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Over the last few decades China has developed a well-earned reputation as the factory of the world. According to figures from 2019, this single country accounted for no less than 28.7% – well over a quarter – of global manufacturing output. But this raises a significant logistical issue: how does all that product get to where it needs to go?
Enter the ePacket shipping system.
ePacket delivery is one of the most popular shipping methods offered by sellers from China and Hong Kong. The ePacket system was designed to meet the ever-increasing need of online retailers and drop shippers to ship small items around the globe – something that it does in an incredibly efficient and effective way.
What is ePacket shipping? How does it work? And is it a service you should be taking advantage of? The answers to all these questions and more can be found below.
What is ePacket shipping?
It used to be that all Chinese goods were delivered to their destination on cargo ships – a process that saw delivery times often measured in months, and that meant that a single t-shirt had the same delivery time as a fleet of new cars.
In 2011 the arrival of the ePacket system changed all that. Initially established as a partnership between the US Postal Service, eBay China and Hong Kong Post, ePacket shipping is offered by Chinese and Hong Kong merchants, and allows small items to be sent via air freight at a reasonable cost.
The ePacket system has since expanded to dozens of countries around the globe, including Australia, and has driven the rise of dropshipping and other forms of international eCommerce.
The rise of ePacket shipping
On its establishment in 2011 the ePacket shipping system proved instantly successful in both China and the US. The speed and affordability proved an alluring combination, which meant that the system was introduced to a wealth of other countries (including Australia) in the years that followed.
Perhaps the key to the success of the ePacket system is in the fact that it is subsidised. The Chinese and US governments saw the potential of such a system to improve the economy, so decided to subsidise each shipment in order to bring the costs down for the users. Other governments have since followed suit.
The benefits of ePacket shipping
The benefits of choosing ePacket for your shipping method are many and varied:
- Faster: Trade delivery times of months for weeks or even days.
- More affordable: Subsidised ePacket rates are incredibly cheap for the service you get.
- Trackable: Track your items door-to-door for no additional cost.
- Fees included: Taxes, customs, duties and fees are all taken care of.
- Undeliverable returns: If an item isn’t deliverable, it’s returned to the seller at no extra cost.
How long do ePacket shipments take?
ePacket shipping times vary from country to country. For many countries, including the US, items take around 7-10 days to be delivered, but Australia’s strict customs laws means that we can wait slightly longer.
While not guaranteed, almost all ePacket shipments are delivered to Australia within 30 days, and take an average of around 20 days to arrive. That said, some packages arrive within two weeks. These timeframes understandably grow during times of high demand, such as Christmas. The travel portion of the delivery time is usually quite small – it’s the processes on either end that soak up most of this time.
Who should consider using ePacket shipping?
Dropshippers are generally considered the main market for ePacket shipping. We go into more detail here, but in basic terms, a drop shipper is an online retailer who sells products that are ultimately delivered to the customer direct from a supplier. An Australian drop shipper takes orders, then passes them onto the supplier for fulfilment.
ePacket shipping is ideal for this situation, as it offers a drop shipper a fast, cheap, secure and trackable way to send small items direct from China.
What are the requirements of ePacket shipping?
Only items that meet certain criteria are able to be sent via the ePacket shipping system:
- Weight: <2kg.
- Size: Minimum 11x14cm, maximum 90cm for the sum of the package’s length, width and height (slightly different rules apply to tubes.)
- Value: The value of the product being shipped must not exceed US$400.
What countries accept ePacket shipments?
Currently, over 40 countries accept ePacket shipments, including all of North America and most of Europe. A complete list of ePacket-approved countries can be found here.
How are ePacket shipments handled?
What does the ePacket journey look like from the package’s point of view? Something like this:
The order is taken by the merchant, who packages up the delivery and puts an ePacket sticker on it. It enters the local postal system of either China or Hong Kong before being delivered to an international air freight company.
The package is processed through an airport and placed on a plane, which is flown to the destination country, in our case Australia.
Once it arrives in Australia the package is processed by customs. This may involve a security check if there is sufficient reason to do so.
Once the package clears customs it is handed over to a local carrier, usually Australia Post, which processes it through its own systems and ultimately delivers it to the final destination.
The fact that an ePacket delivery passes through the hands of so many stakeholders makes it all the more remarkable that a) the price is so low, and b) that the entire process can be tracked. Speaking of which…
How to track ePacket shipments
When you look at an ePacket label it can feel a little overwhelming – no fewer than 13 different codes greet your eye, a consequence of the parcel needing to pass through so many sets of hands. But the only one that matters to you is the tracking code.
This code can be used to track your shipment via the Australia Post website, or by any number of third-party providers, many of whom can be integrated into a dropshipper’s website.
Square can help navigate ePacket shipments
Square Online has been designed for anyone looking to make the most of the opportunity that ePacket shipping represents. Trusted by drop shippers and online retailers the world over, Square makes maintaining online eCommerce orders easy, particularly when they’re fulfilled through ePacket shipments.
Getting started with Square shipping is as easy as one, two, three:
Go to your Square Online Overview page.
Select Fulfilment > Shipping.
Confirm the Shipping from address. This address is used to determine the shipping rates and carriers (including ePacket) available in your location. If you’re shipping from a different location, click Edit Address to make changes.
ePacket is a modern shipping system for our modern world and offers digital entrepreneurs a fast, affordable, secure and ultra-reliable way to deliver goods around the globe. If you’re ready to make the most of the ePacket opportunity, Square is ready to help.