Best Practices For Selecting International Shipping

We were asked very often on how to select shipping method and which one is the best. We are listing the best practices here for all user's reference with our experience. 


First of all, you need to learn the following concepts/knowledge of the shipping options:

China Post- EMS, Air Parcel, SAL, Airmail small package, E-packet: 
China Post includes several different shipping methods: EMS, Air Parcel( parcel above 2kg), SAL( parcel above 2kg), Airmail small package(package under 2kg), Epacket(package under 2kg). The average speeds of these shipping methods from fastest to lowest are in the following order: EMS, E-packet, Airmail, Air Parcel, SAL.  Usually we suggest users to use EMS if speed is needed as it's top priority shipping in postal office systems and we do offer 45% discount. Airmail, Air Parcel, SAL are flat shipping without priority.

Be Aware: We don't paste commercial invoice on the China Post parcels/packages by default. Users can download the invoice in "My Parcels" page and send to destination custom if needed. Alternatively, user can remark in shipping request when making 2nd payment if the invoice with real declaring value needs to be attached on the carton. But this may cause higher custom taxes in some countries.

Advantages:
a.) Easy and safe. The parcels are shipped by post offices all over the world and treated as personal parcels by default and post office will help handle the clearance with simple steps in most countries. Usually customs are checking less strictly on these parcels and it's best option for complex items which are hard for custom declaring if users buy a lot of different items. In another word, China Post shipping methods are easier and safer shipping methods comparing to other channels;
b.) Price is good for small and middle size parcels;
c.) Air Parcel, SAL, Airmail, E-packet are not calculating volumetric weight. They are good options to ship light but big items. EMS usually doesn't calculate the volumetric weight either, but in busy season, it may also calculate volumetric weight;
d.) EMS and E-packet are fast shipping. Others are flat shipping with slower speed.

Disadvantages:
a.) For big parcels above 10kgs, especially above 20kgs, the price is no longer cheaper comparing to other commercial shipping methods;
b.) Parcel sizes and weight are limited. For EMS, Air Parcel and SAL, usually the weight is limited to be under 20kgs(Some countries may also limit the weight to be under 15kgs), single length less than 1.2 meter. For Airmail and E-packet, the weight should be under 2kgs and single length under 60cm;
c.) When parcels are shipped to South America and Africa, it's too slow and hard to track except EMS is selected. So we don't suggest users to ship to South America and Africa countries via Air Parcel, SAL or airmail. Only EMS is suggested. Shipping to other countries are all right;
d.) In busy season, Air Parcel, SAL, Airmail are slow as they are flat shipping without priority. If EMS is possible, please select EMS instead to avoid timing issue.


Famous Commercial Shipping: 
DHL/FEDX/TNT/UPS/ARAMEX are famous commercial shipping methods. As commercial shipping methods, they will be more strictly checked by customs(either China side or destination side). Sensitive and complex items are not suggested to be shipped in these methods. Very importantly, volumetric weight will always be calculated and compared with real weight. The higher one will be adopted for calculating shipping cost. The way to calculate the volumetric weight is: Volumetric Weight(kg)= Length(cm) x Width(cm) x Height(cm)/5000.

Advantages:
a.) One ticket of these commercial shipping methods can carry several cartons, which means using one general tracking number, you can ship several cartons together as a whole; 
b.) They are of cheaper price(comparing to China Post) when parcels are above 20kgs shipped to many countries;
c.) Shipping speed is fast.

Disadvantages:
a.) It's not good option to ship large but light items as the volumetric weight will be much bigger than real weight which causes high shipping cost;
b.) Sensitive items are not accepted at all. It's with zero tolerance to ship sensitive items as they are checked strictly by customs;
c.) Complex items are not suitable for these shipping methods as the commercial invoice needs to be as accurate as possible, while complex items will make the invoice too long and difficult to handle, which increases the problems in custom;
d.) Extra fee will be charged if the delivery address is in remote district;
e.) Price is changing time to time. There will be a big price raise in busy season.


Commercial Special Line:
FSC do offer some special lines to some countries with better prices(comparing to the China Post and Famous Commercial Shipping methods). Usually these special lines are developed by some other ordinary companies but well tested as stable lines in most time. Be aware: These special lines are also commercial shipping methods so they are also with zero tolerance to sensitive items. Volumetric weight will always be calculated, too.

Currently FSC are offering the following Special Lines: GATI India Special Line(Tax Free), JCFSC Malaysia Special Line(Tax Free), JCFSC Singapore Special Line and other etc.  

Advantages:
a.) Much Cheaper Price;
b.) Fast.

Disadvantages:
a.) Not good option to ship large but light items;
b.) Sensitive items are not accepted at all; 
c.) Complex items are not suitable;
d.) There may be tracking info gap. Tracking info sometimes is not accurate;
e.) Price is changing time to time. 


Other channels:
There are other shipping channels like Korea E-packet, EMS Hongkong, Singpost Airmail, etc. They are all for solutions for shipping sensitive items or other purposes like avoiding heavy traffic in busy season when many shipping methods are too busy and slow. As there will be tracking info delays and gaps, usually FSC don't suggest users to use.  

Advantages:
a.) Some of them can accept small sensitive items like small battery;
b.) Some can be faster(comparing to China Post) in busy season.

Disadvantages:
a.) There is tracking info delay and gaps;
b.) Higher rate of parcel missing, especially for small packages.


Sensitive Item Channel:
Currently FSC don't offer sensitive item channel. However, there do exist some sensitive channels from some shipping/forwarder companies. Usually they charge higher price and can accept sensitive items. However, it's not stable and very risky and FSC is not offering these methods due to our current business model to avoid unnecessary complaints. Users who want to try these sensitive channels should find them on their own as third party shipping forwarder and undertake all the risks on their own.

Advantages:
a.) Sensitive items are accepted.

Disadvantages:
a.) Unstable;
b.) Risky; 
c.) Higher price.


Third Party Shipping Forwarders:
Some users are having their own shipping forwarders for better shipping price especially when sea freight(LCL or FCL) is needed. FSC can purchase the items and later hand over to users' shipping forwarders. Third party forwarder means other shipping agent/forwarder company who is having no cooperation with FSC. Users need to find the third party shipping forwarder first and check the prices before using them and deal with them directly for shipping. FSC side will hand over the parcels to these forwarders after purchasing per user's instruction to complete the job. 

Advantages:
a.) Cheap shipping price, especially for large volume purchase;
b.) Some of them can help users handle formal custom declaring and clearance besides shipping.
c.) Some forwarders can also ship sensitive items. But users need to confirm with the forwarder first.

Disadvantages:
a.) Small orders are usually not accepted by third party shipping forwarder or the cost is not worth;
b.) Slower speed;
c.) A little bit complex with more steps.



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As you can see from the above, different shipping methods are having different advantages and disadvantages. Usually users need to considering both the shipping cost and convenience when selecting a shipping method. And we do suggest users to check the goods you are going to ship first and follow the best practices below: 

Sensitive Items:
You must have seen too many times of this keyword "Sensitive Items" above and you must wonder what it means. Basically, the "sensitive item" means the following items or items including: liquid, powder, cream, battery, chemicals, strong magnet, famous international branded items or replica/copy/fakes, knives(including scissor), gun related items and other items prohibited by customs and shipping companies.

Depending on the different sensitive item types, we are having the following best practices:
a.) Small quantity of items with small battery: If the battery quantity is under 2 pcs and the items' weight is under 2kgs, they can be shipped via Singpost Airmail. Pure battery item like laptop battery is not accepted. Also the battery should not be too big.

b.) Small magnet items: As long as the quantity is not large, usually we can ship via China Post shipping methods(EMS, Airmail, Air Parcel, SAL).

c.) Chemicals, big knives, gun related items: They are completely not accepted for purchasing or shipping. Don't buy them.

d.) Famous branded items: Except they are purchased from Tmall.com, we don't accept purchasing request or shipping request for famous branded items as there are many fakes. China custom and destination customs are also checking strictly for replica/fakes. FSC is not going to be engaged in the risk of fakes/replicas/copies so we are having a restricted list. As long as the brand is in the restricted list, the purchasing request will be declined.

e.) Large quantity of items with battery, small knives, liquid, powder, big magnet: You need to find your third party shipping forwarder who can ship these sensitive items. FSC's listed methods are not accepting them.


Non Sensitive Items:
If the items are not in the sensitive item list, they are non-sensitive items. However, we suggest users to select the shipping option by considering the timing, convenience and cost. 

The following are best practice for non-sensitive items:
Complex Items: If there are too many kinds of items in one carton, we suggest users to use China Post(EMS, Airmail, Air Parcel, SAL). If EMS price is good comparing others, EMS should be the first choice. The "too many kinds" here means different types of items(like clothes, shoes, fashion jewellery, electronic items, toys, tools and many other strange things together), especially those for personal use. If the items are all clothes, they can be treated as one kind of items as simple items instead of complex items even though each of them are different.

Small High Value Items: If the items are small and of high value, we suggest you use China Post EMS only to ship them. Other shipping methods are with higher risk so we don't recommend. Don't use Airmail to ship high value small items as it's slow flat shipping and there is no instant customer service from Airmail to help you when you found the package is missing. 

Personal Items: China Post(EMS, Airmail, Air Parcel, SAL, E-packet) are suggested as the custom clearance is easier. By considering the prices and timing, you can select appropriate one.

Light and Big Items:  China Post(EMS, Airmail, Air Parcel, SAL) are suggested. China Post EMS may also calculate volumetric weight in busy season so if the volumetric weight is calculated, avoid using EMS as well.

Wholesale Simple Items above 10kgs: You can start to consider DHL Hongkong to lower down the cost. Especially when the weight is above 20kgs, the DHL Hongkong and some Commercial Economic Special Line price will become much cheaper than China Post EMS. However, don't ship complex items with DHL and Commercial Special Line as they will cause unexpected troubles. Also, we only offer DHL Hongkong for saving cost purpose when DHL is selected. It will take extra 3-7 days for the parcels to be shipped to Hongkong before they enter into DHL system, so there will be an expected trace gap at the very beginning in the shipping process. Usually it is not big problem considering the cheaper price. For Commercial Special Line, you can see the trace in our system, which usually takes about 2 weeks to get delivered.

Large Wholesale Items: If the items are large and of low value, third party shipping forwarder can be used, especially for sea freight. For some heavy items, FSC can also have the suppliers ship to third party forwarder's warehouse directly to save domestic shipping cost.

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