What You Need to Know About Shipping Internationally

May 21, 2013 at 11:01 AMLeah Palnik

Going global with your business is a great opportunity for growth. Whether you've already taken your business overseas or have just started to dip your toes in the international waters, simplifying your shipping is essential for keeping your business afloat. Here's what you need to know about shipping internationally:

Find your markets
When you're selecting your international markets, there are several factors to consider. You may start off by selecting markets where you have local distribution connections or markets that have signed free trade agreements with the U.S. You may also think about staying within markets with a common language to avoid any cultural or language barrier issues.

As you continue to expand it's also important to be aware of the requirements and restrictions you will encounter. Each country has different restrictions or prohibitions that affect what commodities are allowed to be important and exported.

Some countries also have standards you must adhere to. For example, China uses the China Compulsory Certification Mark (CCC), whereas European countries conform to the Conformite Europeenne (CE). Products not meeting the particular standards in these markets may be held up by customs and will be subject to other penalties. Make sure you are aware of these restrictions and standards to avoid any unwanted hassles down the road.

As a helpful tool for researching your markets, FedEx provides Country Profiles that can give you detailed information on import and export restrictions, trade group information, prohibitions, standards, and more.

Prepare your documents
There is a great deal of documentation involved with shipping and selling a product internationally. The U.S. government requires export documentation and each importing country will have different requirements for import documentation.

What documentation you have to submit with your shipment depends mostly on where you are shipping to and what you are shipping. The primary shipping document for most international shipments is the International Air Waybill (IAWB). Other documents you may need will vary. Some other common documents include the Commercial Invoice, Certificate of Origin, and Electronic Export Information (EEI).

To help you determine what international documents you will need to complete, check out the FedEx International Document Assistance page.

Ship your products
When you have selected your markets, completed the necessary paperwork, and are finally ready to ship, it's important to select the right service at a low cost. It's also important to remember that things like duties, taxes, port handling fees and other customs charges will affect your costSaving money on your international shipments with a reliable carrier can make a world of difference. 

FedEx offers a number of services to fit all of your international shipping needs. Through an association shipping program, managed by PartnerShip, you can receive discounts on your international shipments with select FedEx services. PartnerShip works with over a hundred major trade associations, across many industries to provide their members with the money-saving tools to help them be successful. If you belong to an association we work with, take advantage of our free shipping benefits today - and save on your international shipping. If you're not sure if you qualify for one of our shipping programs contact us and we'll find the solution that's right for you.

2013 Small Package Rate and Accessorial Increases Report

January 2, 2013 at 8:45 AMLeah Palnik

2013 Small Package Rate IncreasesNear the beginning of every New Year, the shipping experts at PartnerShip dig into the small package carriers' annual rate increase announcements. We like to read between the lines for our customers, digest the tables and charts, see what information is out there that FedEx and UPS didn't say, or maybe just hinted at. As always, how much more expensive your particular small package shipments will be in the New Year largely depends on many factors, including shipment volumes, sizes, weights, and modes.

Here are some quick facts regarding this year's small package rate increases:

  • UPS rate increases in effect December 31, 2012
    » 4.9% average rate increase for UPS Ground (5.9% average increase -1% reduction in the fuel surcharge)
    » 4.5% average rate increase for UPS Air (6.5% average increase -2% reduction in the fuel surcharge)
  • FedEx rate increases in effect January 7, 2013
    » 4.9% average rate increase for FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery services (5.9% rate increase -1% reduction in the fuel surcharge)
    » 3.9% average rate increase for FedEx Express services (5.9% average increase -2% reduction in the fuel surcharge)
  • UPS will enjoy an extra week of the rate increases by beginning 12/31/12 to FedEx's 1/7/13

Interested in learning more? Our exlcusive report includes detailed tables and insights. Click the button below to read on ...

Learn More



Ground Delivery Small Package Shipping Options

November 8, 2012 at 10:08 AMLeah Palnik

Ground Delivery OptionsPartnerShip helps thousands of customers save on their ground delivery small package shipments (i.e., generally those under 200 pounds). Through our unique alliance with FedEx®, we help ensure our customers get access to fast and reliable small package shipping services, while maximizing their savings.

Last week we talked about the various small package shipping options for U.S. Express and International Express services. This week, we'd like to point out the discounted ground delivery small package shipping options that are available through one of our association shipping programs:

  • FedEx Ground® Choose this service for economical ground delivery to U.S. businesses. You get day-definite delivery in 1—5 business days (3—7 business days to and from Alaska and Hawaii) based on the distance to your destination. Delivery is by the end of the business day. Available to every business address throughout all 50 states (service for remote Alaskan locations and the Hawaiian islands of Lanai and Molokai is inbound only). For more information, go to fedex.com/ground.
  • FedEx Home Delivery® Get residential day-definite delivery in 1—5 business days (3—7 business days to and from Alaska and Hawaii) based on the distance to your destination. Delivery is between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Available to every U.S. residential address, for packages up to 70 lbs. Convenient delivery
    options are available for recipients with appointment and evening requirements. For more information, go to fedex.com/homedelivery.
  • FedEx International Ground® Get economical day-definite ground delivery to Canada typically in 2—7 business days, based on the distance to your destination. Delivery is by the end of the business day. Customs clearance is included through this brokerage inclusive service (a fee applies).

Small Package Solutions

Our discounted small package shipping services are completely free to eligible businesses participating in one of our association shipping programs. If you are currently a member of a professional association or trade group, ask them if they have a discounted small package shipping program through PartnerShip. You can also give us a call at 800-599-2902, or send an email to sales@PartnerShip.com, and we'll find out for you. If not, we'd love to talk to your association leadership team to see if we can build a program for you and your fellow members.

To learn more about our other services, click the button below.

Small Package versus LTL Freight

September 6, 2012 at 7:03 AMScott Frederick

A common dilemma for businesses is deciding the appropriate shipping mode to use for their important shipments. Shipping mode choices include LTL freight, small package, ground, air, ocean, rail, intermodal, and others. When deciding whether to use a small package or LTL freight carrier, for example, shippers must take into consideration the weight and characteristics of the shipment, including delivery urgency. The old —150-pound' rule is not an absolute guideline anymore, but obviously the weight of the shipment must be a major consideration in choosing a shipping mode.

Shipment Characteristics

The size, weight, and shape of the materials you are shipping can also impact your decision making. Are your boxes big and bulky, small and compact, unitized or loose? LTL often is a preferable choice when the shipment's boxes are oddly shaped, as in furniture. LTL is also the way to go when your shipment is palletized, as small package carriers only handle individual boxes. Being less automated than the small package shippers, the LTL carrier will often use forklifts instead of conveyor belts. Strange as it may seem, moving odd-shaped boxes and pallets with a forklift produces fewer damages than moving them on a conveyor belt with thousands of other packages. The shape of the carton may cause it to fall off the belt or at least be tumbled around a good deal. Also, when you ship multiple loose boxes, the chances of losing one or two them are greater than had you shipped them together on a pallet.

Shipment Destination

Another area to consider is the receiving facilities for the shipment. Is there a dock? Does the shipment need to be delivered to the tenth floor of a building with no freight elevator? Is inside delivery even necessary? LTL freight carriers will generally be better delivering dock-to-dock and business-to-business, while small package carriers are better able to handle inside and residential deliveries.  

Service Needs

Service must also be taken into account. If your shipment must travel 2,000 miles and be delivered the next-day, you're going to have to consider an air express service (unless it's Friday, in which case some ground carriers can use the weekend to get your shipment across the country). Generally, if you don't need your shipment delivered within one or two days, LTL freight is going to be less expensive than small package carriers who have more urgent delivery capabilities built into their systems — particularly as your shipment weight increases. LTL freight may also be a good option for shipments moving less than 500 miles, because you can often get next-day delivery on those distances.  

Pricing and Fees

Of course, the primary consideration is quite often price. Most of you are painfully aware of the charges small package carriers assess for services such as rural delivery, address correction and Saturday delivery. LTL carriers have similar charges as well, especially for inside delivery or delivery to a recipient who has no loading dock. Carriers in both industries continue to charge fuel surcharges, which also have a material effect on your shipping price. On a percentage basis, LTL carriers generally charge higher fuel surcharges (about double that of small package carriers) but, in the end, it's the total price you need to look at, since LTL is often less expense on the —line haul' portion of the invoice.

Loss and Damage Concerns

The risk of loss or damage to your precious shipment is always a concern, regardless of what type of carrier you use.  Small package carriers have a higher loss and damage ratio than LTL carriers, but neither is altogether immune to the issue.  LTL carriers provide the advantage of providing significantly more liability coverage than small package carriers (which are often capped at $100 per package). So a small package carrier will have only $300 worth of liability on that 3 package, 300 pound shipment; whereas, an LTL carrier would provide liability coverage of $750. That's more than double the protection of the small package carrier.

Making the Decision

Sometimes the best course of action is to seek help from transportation professionals (like those at PartnerShip) to help you make the right decision. There is no set formula for the best service-price ratio, but as a general rule of thumb, shipments over 200 pounds that don't require urgent delivery are best handled by LTL carriers. Shipments less than 200 pounds, those that can't be placed on a pallet, or those that require urgent delivery over longer distances, are often best handled by small package carriers.

Interested in learning more?                                             

Let PartnerShip help you to determine when and where you should be using small package and LTL freight carriers. Contact us today.

No matter the package size or shipment mode, it's important to be using the proper techniques for your packaging. Learn how to prevent costly and time-consuming mistakes by downloading our ultimate guide to proper packaging

Free white paper! The Ultimate Guide to Packaging Your Shipments

Consolidate Orders to Save on Shipping

August 13, 2012 at 9:40 AMScott Frederick

As a general rule of thumb, one big order ships for less than three smaller orders. That means consolidating multiple orders into a single shipment whenever possible, and always striving to minimize the number of packages you send. All too often, shipments are arranged as they come in from sales or order processing. However, a little planning and visibility goes along ways towards shipping savings.

As the example below shows, one 30 pound small package shipped via FedEx produces a 27% expense reduction over shipping two separate small packages, netting almost $6 in savings.

Small Shipment Consolidation

When it comes to small package shipping, these savings - although seemingly small at times - definitely add up over time. However, when you consolidate LTL freight shipments, the savings become immediately more impressive. As the example below shows, by consolidating three 300 pound shipments into one 900 pound freight shipment, the shippers was able to save 25% - or $454.24 - on their freight shipping expense.

Freight Consolidation


Consolidating orders provides additional benefits to both shippers and receivers (consignees) of small package and LTL freight shipments, including:

  • Reduced shipping supply expenses
  • Greater fuel efficiency (better on the environment)
  • Less time needed to receive, handle, and restock orders

One strategy for shipment consolidation is to create a simple shipping guide that takes into consideration all of your business rules for carriers, weight breaks, orders, and shipping contacts. Distribute this guide to your vendors and discuss it with your customers. A little communication can often go a long way towards small business savings. If you need a partner to help you through the process, you can always call on PartnerShip ... we're here to help.

Three Steps to Take Control of Inbound Shipping

May 8, 2012 at 2:44 PMScott Frederick

Like many small businesses, you may not currently have control over the shipments coming into your business. It is common for small businesses to let the vendor shipping the product to you arrange the carrier, select the mode of transportation, and manage the actual pickup and delivery times. In some cases, the convenience of this sort of arrangement may work well for your situation. However, that convenience comes with a cost: you may find that you are paying significantly more for inbound shipping than if you had arranged for it on your own.

Reducing inbound shipping costs is one of the easiest, yet most overlooked ways to reduce your overall transportation expenses. Since you are the buyer of the goods, you can and should determine how those goods are shipped to you. When you control and route your own inbound shipments, you have an excellent opportunity to lower your costs.

Here is a quick, three-step process for getting control of your inbound shipping expenses:

  1. Look at one or two invoices from your major suppliers. See what dollar amount they allocate for “shipping and handling.”

  2. Compare your suppliers’ freight shipping rates with the rates you have in place with your preferred shipping provider. If you’re a PartnerShip customer, you can easily log into our website and perform a couple rate quotes to see how your freight rates compare (or just give us a call – we’ll do it for you).

  3. If you find your rates are lower, draw up a letter for your purchasing department to forward to your suppliers providing details on how you want your products shipped, your small package carrier account number, and your preferred LTL freight carriers (again, PartnerShip can do all of this for you if you’d prefer). The letter also acts as an insurance policy if your supplier mistakenly ships by a carrier not on your routing letter. Having a signed letter allows you to charge vendors back for their mistakes.

Updating your routing instructions with all of your suppliers is the first important step in gaining control of your inbound shipping costs. Ensure your products are delivered to you via your preferred carriers and at your known rates. This takes the unpredictability out of inbound shipping costs, and can save you money in the process.

Small Businesses Cope With Rising Shipping Costs

April 20, 2012 at 2:35 PMScott Frederick

Manage Shipping CostsWith ever-soaring fuel costs and the resulting rise in shipping rates, many businesses may find their profit margins shrinking even as production increases. Many small businesses use e-commerce in the start-up stages, but with the recent rise in shipping rates, owners are looking for ways to reduce shipping costs.  

In-House Strategies

  • Postage meters are an inexpensive way to save time and money for companies that either ship very small light weight products or for which shipping is a smaller portion of their overall product delivery.  A Postage meter will weigh packages accurately, assess precise postage charges and print the shipping label. By taking the guessing out of shipping estimates, both your company and your customer will be satisfied, and shipping overages will be eliminated.

  • Compare services and pricing for each carrier on common shipping requirements. Factor in delivery time as well as shipping costs; customers satisfaction is higher when delivery times are shorter.  Eventually you'll gain a picture of what shipping criteria is best serviced by which service. For example FedEx Express has overnight and 2-day delivery options for small packages, but if your shipment is heavier (more than 10 pounds) and isn't under strict time constraints, it might be more cost-effective to use FedEx Ground service.

Outbound Shipping Solutions for Larger Volumes

  • Consolidate your orders into less-than-truckload (LTL) freight shipments (more than 200 pounds) could save you even more on shipping. If your company has multiple products going to the same customer, it might make sense to consolidate them into one shipment and use an LTL freight carrier like UPS Freight or YRC Freight. You'll pay quite a bit less than parcel or express service and your liability coverage will be much better as well should there be any loss or damage in transit. 

  • Work with a third party logistics (3PL) company. If you don't have the time or resources to figure out which carriers and services would be best for your shipping volumes, a company like PartnerShip can handle the logistics for you and often negotiate a better overall shipping rate for you.

Inbound Shipping Costs

  • Small business owners may lump their inbound freight costs into the cost of goods, but poor inbound freight management can severely impact your gross profit margin.  Be sure every vendor invoice is reviewed for hidden fees. Vendors can inflate "Shipping and Handling" fees to compensate for lower priced items. 

  • Send routing instructions to your vendors specifying which carriers you want them to use when shipping you your products. You can also set up a direct billing account for vendors that ship to you via FedEx or LTL freight carriers through your 3PL partner. With a direct relationship, you'll be able to track shipping volume putting you in a place to negotiate a better overall rate. 

Small businesses must continually adjust their practices to survive and grow in today's economic climate. Adapting to rising shipping costs is something your company can't afford not to do.