The Beginner’s Guide to Cross Border Shipping

Author: Jennifer Dunn  |  December 12, 2018
cross-border-shipping

As an online merchant, shipping products outside your home country and region can be a little terrifying. What’s up with customs? Why is shipping across a border so expensive? Where did these zillions of shipping carriers come from?

It can be tempting to stick to shipping to customers within your own borders and call it a day. But if you’re not shipping cross-border, you’re likely missing out.

Not long ago, we went over a whole slew of reasons why you should be shipping internationally. This includes all the usual suspects like “the market is out there,” and “your competitors are doing it,” but we think the whole list is worth a read.

And now if you’re sold on shipping cross border, but have no idea where to start, we’re here to help.

Choosing Your Products and Market

Much of your cross-border shipping experience is going to depend on where you are shipping and what products you are sending to customers. It’s a good idea to test your international shipping strategy by dipping a toe in the water before diving in.

Choose your market
Chances are you already know where your products are in-demand. Online shoppers are not always shy about attempting to have an order shipped internationally or writing into support to ask you to support their country.

Take a look at your store’s analytics. Do you get a lot of traffic from a certain country? Is your support team constantly fielding queries asking why you don’t ship to Region X? Then start there, where you know your products are already in demand.

Offerings like ShipperHQ can provide you with detailed analytics on the conversions you are not making internationally, which can give you some insights into the size of the opportunity.

Alternatively, you can choose to test the waters with a close market with long established cross-border shipping routes. In the U.S., that could mean Canada or Mexico. In the UK, that might mean the EU/Continental Europe.

Choose your products
Once you’ve chosen your market, your next step is to pick the products you want to ship internationally. We recommend starting with small, light and durable items. These types of items are less likely to run into snafus when making stops in the international shipping process.

But before you pack up a shipment of lithium ion batteries wrapped in U.S. postage stamps and send them on their way, there are a few things you need to know.

  • Country or Territory Regulations – International shipping between countries is highly regulated, and for all kinds of reasons.  Before you lovingly plaster a label on your first international shipment, read up on the rule. UPS has a handy resource where you can look up shipping regulations and restrictions based on point of origin and shipping destination. Some countries may require that you obtain a license or other special provision before importing goods. For example, you need extra permits to ship meat to Mexico, so they probably aren’t the ideal market to test out your new Steak o’ the Month subscription box.
  • Restricted items – Like the aforementioned lithium ion batteries, some items are universally restricted and/or require a lot of extra hoop jumping to ship internationally. This is because they can be dangerous, like high-powered magnets on an airplane, or illegal, like ivory. ( …Or because they’re postage stamps. UPS will not ship U.S. postage stamps outside the U.S.) But never fear, some restrictions are carrier-specific. So if one carrier won’t ship your product, another may answer the call. Don’t give up!
  • Keep it Simple – Cross-border shipping is more involved than domestic shipping, we suggest you start with high profit margin items that you can afford to lose if your first experiment doesn’t work out. In other words, consider testing the international shipping waters by sending books, not hot tubs.

Once you’ve chosen your products and market, don’t be surprised when things change up on you. Tariffs and treaties and other changes may suddenly mean that a new market opens up, or something that you happily shipped to your customers in Country X yesterday is suddenly prohibited today.

It can be extremely difficult to keep an eye on changes, especially with the current tariff unease worldwide. It’s essential that merchants use software to help them keep an eye on changes, not only  to the cost of shipping, but changes in what can and can’t be shipped.

Nail Down Shipping Logistics

Choose your carrier(s) – You have a ton of options when it comes to shipping items cross-border. Postal mail, like the United States Postal Service (USPS) or Canada Post is cost-effective, but often excruciatingly slow. Express carriers cost more, but can be much faster and offer perks like insurance and tracking that will give you and your customers peace of mind that the purchase is on it’s way.

Understand customs and duties – Think of customs and duties as taxes or tariffs on the items you import. Depending on things like what the product is, what it’s made of, it’s value and quantity, where you’re shipping from and the origin point of your products, you (or your customer) are likely going to have to pay extra as a cost of doing business for importing goods into a country.

You have a couple of options here:

  • Delivery Duty Paid (DDP) – This means you, the merchant, pay all the taxes and fees associated with shipping internationally. You are generally billed by your carrier for these fees. In some cases you may not know the fees until after the order is delivered.
  • Delivery Duty Unpaid (DDU) – This means that the customer is on the hook to pay all taxes and fees associated on the package. If you choose this route, be sure to let the customer know up front that they will be responsible for duties, otherwise you could end up with an angry customer.

The other option is to use a 3rd party custom and duties calculator to do all the work for you, and then choose to either pass all, some or none of that cost onto the customer.

ShipperHQ is releasing a solution in Q1 2019 which will handle all your customs & duties. Contact us for early access.

Optimize your Customers’ Experience

Offer varied delivery options – Some of your customers will want their purchase immediately. Others may be more price-conscious and defect to a competitor if the total price climbs too high. One way you can please everybody is by offering up choices. The price-conscious customers can save some money with slower shipping options, while the people who forgot their mom’s birthday can shell out extra for express shipping.

These days, many online shoppers have come to expect free shipping, even on international orders. Check out our guide to offering free shipping without busting your budget here.

Be transparent about shipping costs – The last thing you want to do is surprise your customers with an enormous grand total when they’re about to hit “Buy Now.”  Or worse, shipping something around the world only for the customer to refuse to accept the shipment because of the high duties.

Shipping management software can help you give customers the whole shipping price story up front so you don’t end up with a bunch of products sitting in abandoned carts.  

Are you ready to ship internationally? Do you have any international shipping questions? Tips & tricks? Horror stories?

Let us know in the comments!

 

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Here’s Why You Should Be Shipping Internationally

Author: Jennifer Dunn  |  December 7, 2018
shipping-internationally

When it comes to the problems with shipping internationally, we’ve heard it all – it’s expensive, international customers are demanding, our products are restricted, we can’t figure out customs.

Simply put, those are not good enough reasons to avoid shipping your products cross-border. Here’s why:

Your customers are out there

You have the supply, but is there demand? Survey says: Yes.

The Pitney Bowes 2017 Global eCommerce Study found that 70% of online shoppers shop internationally. And DHL found that every 7th online purchase is now a cross-border transaction.

Demand is only growing. Forrester reports that cross-border shipping will make up 20% of eCommerce by 2022, with sales equaling $627 billion. This is in part because eCommerce giants like Rakuten in Asia, Flipkart in India, and Amazon all over the place are rapidly introducing new populations and markets to online shopping. Familiarity with eCommerce, along with streamlined payments processes, mean more and more consumers all over the world feel comfortable shopping online.

If you’re curious about expanding into a new international market, you can first head over to Export.gov and see a frequently-updated overview of economic conditions in the country or region where you’re planning to sell.

Your competitors are doing it

DHL surveyed 1,800 retailers and 71% of those expected their cross-border sales share to increase.

Pitney Bowes also found that a third of the 1,200 online retailers surveyed considered international selling their top growth lever. In the same report, 93% percent of online merchants either already offered cross-border shipping or planned to by 2019.

For U.S. merchants, going international only makes sense because the U.S. share of global eCommerce sales is steadily decreasing as new markets emerge.

You have the data

The key to your first cross-border market may be hiding out in your website’s analytics right now.

According to the same DHL report, a large-scale analysis run in cooperation with SimilarWeb of the top 1,000 shopping websites in each European country showed that more than 1 in 4 of them had significant international traffic, even in smaller, less-connected markets such as Ireland or Croatia.

Fashion and electronics were the top cross-border sellers, but up-and-coming product categories included beauty and cosmetics, pet care, food and beverage, and sporting goods. Tools like ShipperHQ can provide analytics showing you where your customers and potential customers are located.

It’s getting cheaper and easier

When we talk to eCommerce merchants about international shipping two major concerns crop up over and over again: the cost and the hassle.

When in the U.S. you may be accustomed to shipping a parcel from Massachusetts to California for a few bucks, international shipping costs can appear staggering. And that’s without the addition of customs and duties. Further, unless you’ve nailed down relationships with carriers and set up shipping methods, your items can slip into a sort of a transit black box, with neither you nor your customer knowing exactly where the parcel is nor when it will arrive. Further, online shoppers now demand that their packages arrive quickly after they click “Buy Now.”

Fortunately, as cross-border commerce becomes more common, carriers are meeting the needs of both eCommerce sellers and customers. For example, premium or express shipping solves both the problem of parcel tracking and delivering the order to the customer within the expected time frame after the purchase.

Or, to let numbers do the talking, DHL’s survey found that online retailers offering premium cross-border shipping were growing 1.6 times faster than those who did not.

…And more profitable

According to Statista, the average order value of an international sale is $147 USD, which is 17% higher than an average domestic sale.  Further, DHL’s survey found that around 20% of cross-border purchases were worth over $200 USD. Perhaps savviness around shipping charges has your international customers demanding more bang from their buck (or Euro or yen) in each transaction.

Are you exploring cross-border shipping? ShipperHQ has over 10 years experience with thousands of merchants large and small in the international space. Contact us to discuss your needs, or to start a 30-day free ShipperHQ trial today.

 

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How to Offer Free Shipping (Without Busting Your Bottom Line)

Author: Jennifer Dunn  |  December 4, 2018
Free Shipping with ShipperHQ

More and more, online buyers have come to expect perks like free shipping. And many will shop around if your store doesn’t offer it. In fact, a PayPal study found that 43% of shoppers abandon carts because they feel shipping charges are too high.

On the other hand, offering free shipping can eat into your already slim retail profit margins.

Thankfully, there are clever ways to configuring your eCommerce shipping strategy to alleviate the cost of free shipping. You can get all the benefits – and the competitive advantage – of offering free shipping to your customers, without jackhammering your profits.

Here’s how:

1. Limit Free Shipping to Certain Locations

Limit your free shipping by geography. Shipping to Alaska, Hawaii and across borders for example, is generally more costly than shipping to the contiguous 48 states, so you may want to save your free shipping offer for the people in your country or region.

How to limit free shipping to a certain zone: You can easily set a Carrier Rule in ShipperHQ to limit free shipping.

Read our guide on “How to Set Free Shipping for a Specific Zone” here.

2. Set Promotional Thresholds

As shoppers, we’ve all run into online stores offering “Free shipping on purchases over $50.” Why not be that store? The threshold persuades shoppers who may have visited your store for one thing to add extra items to their carts, and ensures you make enough profit on the sale to cover the cost of free shipping.

How set promotional shipping thresholds: In ShipperHQ, you can set promotional thresholds in just a couple minutes by adding a new Filter and Carrier Rule.

Find out how either by checking out our step-by-step guide on “How to Offer Free UPS Ground Shipping on Orders Over $X” or by watching this quick walkthrough.

3. Limit Free Shipping to Certain Products

Offering free shipping on a refrigerator is likely going to cut into your margin on said refrigerator, and on other sales besides. Be sure to limit free shipping to lightweight products.

How to limit free shipping to certain products: Login to ShipperHQ and create a “Shipping Group.” From here, you can exclude any product(s) you want from any free shipping promotions your store offers.

Read all about “How to Exclude Certain Products from Free Shipping on Orders Over $X” here.

4. Offer Free Shipping to Certain Customer Groups

They say you’re not supposed to pick favorites. But honestly, segmenting customers can be a great way to reward frequent buyers, long-time customers, big spenders, customers in a certain geographic location, or any other customer group to whom you’d like to offer free shipping.

How to offer free shipping by customer group: Most eCommerce platforms allow you to segment customers into Customer Groups.  Once you’ve segmented your customers in the backend of your preferred platform, you can then set up a Carrier Rule in ShipperHQ.

Find our step-by-step guide on “How to Set Free Shipping for a Specific Customer Group” here.

5. Delay Free Shipping and Incentivize Faster Shipping

Chances are your customer wants their order yesterday. One strategy to keep shipping costs from getting out of hand is to offer free shipping on slow and low cost methods like economy and ground (and even delay the dispatch on these goods), but charge as usual or even add a surcharge for two-day or next day shipping.

Why a surcharge? Keep in mind that many customers need their item as quickly as possible, and adding a surcharge to faster shipping will help defray the cost of offering free shipping to customers who don’t mind receiving their items at a snail’s pace.

How to add a surcharge to certain shipping methods: ShipperHQ allows you to easily set surcharges on certain shipping methods.

Find out how in our “Use a Carrier Rule to Mark Up a Specific Shipping Method” guide.

6. Pay Attention to Dimensional Shipping

Size matters. The size of the box you ship your product in, that is. To save money on dimensional shipping, instruct your pickers and packers to use the smallest box or packaging unit available for the order. And try to pack multi-item orders into one package whenever possible. You’ll automatically save on shipping when you use the smallest size boxes and the least amount of cartons.

How to maximize savings with dimensional shipping: ShipperHQ’s Dimensional Shipping Advanced Feature can guide your pickers and packers to the right box for every shipment, a feature that most eCommerce carts built-in shipping lacks. Turn on Dimensional Shipping in your ShipperHQ account to achieve more accurate shipping rates especially when getting rates from carriers like UPS and FedEx or when using USPS Flat Rate boxes.

Read our “Setup Dimensional Shipping/Box Packing” guide to find out more.

Are free shipping costs battering your margins?

Try a 30-day free trial of ShipperHQ and let us get you back in the black.

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2018 Holiday Shipping Cutoff Dates

Author: Jennifer Dunn  |  November 29, 2018
2018 Holiday Shipping Cutoff Dates

For online retailers, ’tis the season of good cheer and record profits, but also of stressed out gift-givers who want to make doubly sure their packages arrive by December 24th.

To help you plan your holiday shipping strategy, we’ve compiled this list of holiday shipping cut off dates to ensure that Santa’s gifts don’t accidentally show up on December 27th.

Please note: This blog post should be used as a guideline. Shipping cutoff dates and transit may vary depending on factors like origin, destination and product mix. These dates apply to U.S. to U.S. shipments only. Delays may apply to shipments to Alaska or Hawaii.

UPS

UPS recommends shipping by these dates for your shipment to arrive by December 24th.

Service Shipping Cutoff Date
UPS Ground Monday, December 17- December 21 (depending on shipping zone)
UPS 2nd Day Air Thursday, December 20
UPS Next Day Air Friday, December 21

You can download the full UPS holiday shipping schedule here.

USPS

The USPS recommends shipping by these dates for your shipment to arrive by December 24th.

Service Shipping Cutoff Date
USPS Retail Ground Friday, December 14
USPS Priority Mail Service Thursday, December 20
USPS First-Class Mail Service Thursday, December 20
USPS Priority Mail Express Service Saturday, December 22

For shipments to Alaska and Hawaii, the USPS recommends shipping by December 20th when shipping First-Class Mail Service or Priority Mail Service, and shipping by December 22 when shipping by Priority Mail Service. You can read more about the USPS holiday shipping cutoff dates here.

FedEx

FedEx recommends shipping by these dates for your shipment to arrive by December 24th.

Service Shipping Cutoff Date
FedEx SmartPost Monday, December 10
FedEx Home Delivery Monday, December 17
FedEx Ground Monday, December 17
FedEx Express Saver Wednesday, December 19
FedEx 2Day and FedEx 2Day A.M. Thursday, December 20
FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx Priority Overnight and FedEx First Overnight Friday, December 21

You can find the full list of FedEx shipping cutoff dates here.

Frequently Asked Questions about 2018 Shipping Cutoff Dates

Will UPS, the USPS or FedEx deliver packages on Christmas Day 2018?

UPS Express Critical Service is available on December 25th. FedEx SameDay City Direct, FedEx SameDay City Priority and FedEx SameDay are available on December 25th. The USPS will deliver Priority Mail Express on Christmas Day.

What are the 2018 holiday cutoff dates when shipping internationally?

This depends on factors like carrier availability and the country or region to where you are shipping.

What are the 2018 holiday cutoff dates to ship to someone in the military/an APO address?

Dates vary, but the latest cutoff date listed by the USPS is December 18. See the USPS page on military shipments for a full list of 2018 holiday shipping cutoff dates to APO, FPO and DPO addresses.

Need shipping help?

ShipperHQ calculates dispatch and delivery dates right in checkout, so your customers will always know which shipping option to choose to ensure their delivery arrives on time. This cuts down on abandoned carts and anxious customer service requests from shoppers who want to create the right holiday memory. Try a 30-day no-risk free trial of ShipperHQ today.

We wish you good luck and swift shipping speeds this holiday season. Do you have any other questions about the 2018 holiday shipping cutoff dates? Let us know in the comments.

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The UPS Freight Strike and Its Potential Impact on Shipping

Author: Karen Baker  |  November 5, 2018

UPS LTL Freight to Resume Pickups 11/11

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Update from the Wall Street Journal on November 11, 2018:

“United Parcel Service Inc.’s UPS -0.07% freight workers ratified a final contract offer, averting a work stoppage that prompted the carrier to clear its network ahead of the vote.

The final offer cleared with 77% of votes cast approving the five-year contract, the Teamsters union said Sunday. The agreement covers 11,600 workers.

UPS said it would immediately resume pickups for its freight customers, which primarily ship heavier goods and bulk shipments that move on pallets.”

 

Previous blog content:

UPS LTL Freight to Stop Pickups on 11/7

UPS Ground Freight (LTL) has announced that they will stop pickups on Wednesday, November 7th to ensure customers do not have LTL shipments stranded in the UPS Freight network in the event of a work stoppage.

If you need to ensure you can have your LTL shipments picked up, ShipperHQ is recommending that you switch to a different LTL carrier until UPS Freight is able to once again pick up and deliver LTL shipments.

NOTE: This does not affect UPS Small Package or UPS Ground with Freight pricing (GFP).

Details

UPS Freight is planning on emptying their network of freight within their system by Friday, November 9th. They are also only guaranteeing delivery of ground freight (LTL) shipments through Thursday, November 8th.

According to UPS’s official update on the service outages, the last days for ground freight (LTL) pickup will be as follows:

  • Thursday, November 1 for 5-day shipping commitments
  • Friday, November 2 for 4-day shipping commitments
  • Monday, November 5 for 3-day shipping commitments
  • Tuesday, November 6 for 2-day shipping commitments
  • Wednesday, November 7 for 1-day shipping commitments

ShipperHQ/WebShopApps Customers

If you are using UPS Freight you will continue to get rate estimates for all shipments, including shipments that have estimated delivery dates after November 8.

If you attempt to have a shipment scheduled to be delivered after November 8, you will not be able to schedule a pickup.  To ensure that your LTL shipments will be picked up, we recommend you switch to an alternative carrier during this time. If you need assistance with selecting a carrier at short notice, please contact us.

We also recommend switching on a backup carrier in ShipperHQ. Although we have been informed rating will still work, we cannot guarantee this functionality.

Other Merchants/Retailers

Please check with your software provider to ensure that you will still be able to do rating throughout this period.

ShipperHQ will continue to monitor the news regarding UPS Freight’s ability to support LTL shipping and provide more details as they are announced. We expect UPS to release more information about how and when services will be resuming by Monday morning.

 

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Introducing ShipperHQ Enhanced Checkout for Magento 2

Author: Daniel Ziegler  |  October 8, 2018
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When we launched ShipperHQ in 2013, it was a huge leap forward in both functionality and flexibility toward conquering some of the most challenging shipping requirements that we hear from our merchants every day. As we continue to push forward with innovative capabilities within the ShipperHQ platform, we have kept the merchants needs at the heart of everything we do. Now, we’re excited to be taking the biggest step since ShipperHQ launched with the introduction of our new Enhanced Checkout for Magento 2.

Offer shipping options that appeal to each customer's individual preferences with our new Enhanced Checkout for Magento 2.

Offer shipping options that appeal to each customer’s individual preferences with our new Enhanced Checkout for Magento 2.

Enhanced Checkout is a brand new customer experience driven by the ever-increasing demand for additional shipping information and delivery options that cater to individual customer preferences. We wanted to make it possible for retailers to differentiate themselves from ecommerce giants like Amazon without the need for hours of custom development or a massive new load on their servers. We also wanted to maintain the flexibility that’s been at the core of ShipperHQ from the beginning so that merchants can tailor the customer experience to their unique needs.

Offer Click & Collect for customers looking for an alternative delivery option.

Offer Click & Collect for customers looking for an alternative delivery option.

To achieve this goal in our Enhanced Checkout, we’ve employed cutting edge technologies including React JS components and GraphQL APIs to make our merchants’ checkouts more flexible and responsive without added server load. Beyond performance improvements and decreased server load, these new technologies have also made it possible for us to provide out-of-the-box support for brand new versions of some of ShipperHQ’s most unique and significant features including:

  • In-Store Pickup/Click & Collect
  • Alternate Delivery Options i.e. UPS Access Points
  • Delivery Calendar/Estimated Delivery Dates
  • Pickup and Delivery Time-Slots
  • LTL Freight Accessorials
  • Split Shipments

Beyond making it easier for merchants to enable these advanced ShipperHQ features, we’ve also invested time and effort in improving the way our options look and work out of the box.

As with any element of checkout, the goal is to make shipping as seamless and intuitive as possible for the customer. However, in shipping it’s equally important to make sure complexities are taken care of in the background so that any option shown only applies to the given order, products, destination, or specific customer.

Delivery Calendar and Timeslots in ShipperHQ's Enhanced Checkout

Delivery Calendar and Timeslots in ShipperHQ’s Enhanced Checkout

Our Enhanced Checkout is now available on Magento 2 and Deity. We will be launching it across BigCommerce and Shopify as early as Q1 2019. For a demo and more information,  stop by booth S33 at Magento Live Europe in Barcelona October 9-10 or contact us directly at sales@shipperhq.com.

 

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Introducing the New Look for Calendar & Pickup in Magento 2

Author: Alana Twelmeyer  |  August 21, 2018

What’s New:

  • Updated Calendar design compliments the standard Magento 2 checkout
  • Pickup Locations now features location details, such as hours and phone number with an optional map view

New Look Comparison Using Calendar Only


m2-calendar-new-badge
m2-calendar-old-badge

New Look Comparison Using Calendar & Pickup


m2-calendar-pickup-new-badge
m2-calendar-pickup-old-badge


Important

In order to access the new designs for use in Magento 2, you will need to install the newest versions of module-calendar (v22.x) and module-pickup (v22.x). How to Specify a Specific Version of ShipperHQ.

The new design updates are not supported on Magento 1.x.

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Deliver Security & Convenience to Your Customers by Offering Ship to a UPS Access Point TM Location

Author: Ashley Overton  |  July 10, 2018

shq-ups-access-pointConvenience is one of the key factors turning customers to online shopping. As a way to expand that same convenience and positive experience to delivery, we have teamed up with UPS® to make it simple for retailers to offer the option to ship to a UPS Access Point location to their customers. The UPS Access PointTM program allows these retailers to ship orders to nearby retail locations, so customers have a secure location to hold and pickup orders.

UPS launched their UPS Access Point program in New York City and Chicago in 2014. At that time, the program proved to be a great option for those living in large cities filled with apartments and hard working individuals. It then expanded to additional cities in 2015. And, due to its success, there are now nearly 9,000 UPS Access Point locations in the United States alone.

A Convenient Alternative to In-Store Pickup

45% of millennials prefer to have packages shipped somewhere other than their home.

UPS Access Point locations take the convenience of In-Store pickup to the next level. It allows customers to avoid the rush in the store while giving them the option to pick up their order at a closer location with extended evening and weekend hours. Offering extended pickup hours is a huge plus for those who work and have busy schedules, it allows them to pick up their packages on their own time without hassle.

And, to add to the fun, customers are normally faced with lower shipping costs when choosing the option. Shipping costs are a determining factor for many online shoppers. If faced with high shipping costs, many will abandon cart and move on to a competitor.  By shipping to a commercial location within the UPS Access PointTM network, you will be presented with lower costs which opens the option of enhancing customer experience and beating out the competition with lower rates at checkout.

Make sure the delivery reaches the customer

The ship to UPS Access Point option is also becoming increasingly popular due to the security it offers.

We’ve all seen videos showing individuals snatching packages from doorsteps, leaving customers frustrated not only at the thief, but the retailer as well. The retailer is then faced with a tough decision: Do you replace and resend the item for free? Or risk your customer leaving a bad review due to an extremely negative delivery experience although you have done your part in getting the item to its destination?

With UPS Access PointTM delivery, both the retailer and their customer can be rest assured that the delivery will be safely held until the customer is ready to pick it up. Which means you aren’t left with the cost of sending the item again and will have greater visibility on who is picking up the delivery. In turn, you should see an increase in customer satisfaction.

How you can offer UPS Access Point delivery

Both ShipperHQ and UPS work to help our merchants stay ahead of the curve by giving them the tools they need to easily move their businesses forward.  Both companies understand that an excellent shopping experience has to include great shipping options, so we have come together to offer retailers a Free ShipperHQ Plan for Ship to UPS Access Point.

You can easily sign up for your Free Ship to UPS Access Point Plan and activate UPS Access Point option in your checkout by signing up for a UPS account and setting up Ship to a UPS Access Point location information as a carrier in ShipperHQ.

If you already have a ShipperHQ account, or would like to upgrade your ShipperHQ account so you have access to all the bells and whistles, you’re in luck! Every ShipperHQ plan offers UPS Access Point delivery as a small package option. You will have the option to customize your UPS carriers with restrictions, discounts, surcharges and much more.

Contact us to learn more about how you can upgrade to a Standard, Pro or Enterprise ShipperHQ plan for free through the UPS Customer Technology Program (CTP).

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Sales Tax on Shipping Charges, Demystified

Author: Jennifer Dunn  |  July 2, 2018

As an online seller, when you think of “shipping issues,” your first thought probably has something to do with finding the lowest rate or fastest route from your warehouse to your taxes-646511_640customer. But another shipping issue many sellers don’t consider is whether or not the shipping fees you charge your customers are taxable.

This post will explain when shipping is taxable, when it isn’t, and how to handle shipping taxability in your online business.

Shipping Taxability 101

As an online seller, you’re likely already aware that, in the US, you are required to collect sales tax from buyers in states where you have sales tax nexus. And, as an online seller, chances are you ship all, or at least most, of your products to your customers. But did you know that many states consider shipping charges to be taxable, too?

Depending on a state’s sales tax laws, the price you charge to actually ship a product to your customer may be subject to sales tax, just like the price of the item. Here’s a list of states where shipping is taxable.

In practical application, this means that if you are required to collect sales tax on a product, you are often required to collect sales tax on shipping charges, too. Let’s look at some examples.

Example transaction where shipping is taxable:

Jane sells a $100 lamp and charges $10 in shipping fees to a buyer in a state where shipping is taxable.  The sales tax rate is 5%. In this case, Jane is required to charge the 5% sales tax rate on $110 (the price of the lamp plus the shipping fee.) She’d charge a total of $115.50 to her buyer.

Example transaction where shipping is not taxable:

In this case, Jane sells the same $100 lamp and charges $10 in shipping fees to a buyer in a state where shipping is NOT taxable. The sales tax rate is, again, 5%. In this case, Jane is only required to charge the 5% sales tax rate on the $100 price of the lamp, but not on the $10 shipping fee. So, to this buyer, she would charge only $115.00.

Seems simple enough, right? Well, there are a few caveats we should warn you about.

Exceptions to the Shipping Taxability Rules

State laws were written before eCommerce – You can read what each state’s tax laws say about sales tax on shipping charges here. But you might notice that some of these laws don’t seem to make a lot of sense from the point of view of an eCommerce seller. That’s because many state sales tax laws were written before eCommerce became as prevalent as it is today. Fortunately, most states have re-interpreted their laws to apply to online sales, and you can generally find guidance either by visiting a state’s website or by giving your state’s taxing authority a call.

You are delivering products in your own vehicle – Most of the state sales tax laws referred to above are specific to sellers who use a “common carrier” to deliver products. A common carrier is a service like FedEx, UPS or the USPS which anybody can use to ship products. Many states have different laws for sellers who deliver products in their own trucks or other delivery vehicles, so double check with your state’s taxing authority if this sounds like your situation.

Where shipping is not taxable, delivery charges must be separately stated – Another important thing to note is that most states who do not require sellers to charge sales tax on shipping fees require that those fees be separately stated on the invoice. To curtail any problems with taxing authorities, just be sure that you always state the cost of shipping separately from the price of the item.

Sometimes shipping and handling is taxable – In at least two states, Virginia and Maryland, shipping is not taxable, but handling is.  And if those two charges are combined into one “shipping & handling” charge, then the entire charge is taxable. Confusing, right?

Be careful how you treat mixed taxability shipments – In some states, items like clothing, groceries and medicine are not taxable. And in general, if an item is not taxable, then the shipping charge to ship that item is not taxable either. However, you may run into a situation where a buyer has bought a mix of taxable and non-taxable items from you. In most cases, you can simply either weigh or value the items, and only charge sales tax on the shipping charges for the taxable items. But you always want to double check with the state, because sometimes their laws on how to tax mixed taxability shipments differ.

I hope this blog post has helped you determine when (and when not) to collect sales tax on shipping charges. For a whole lot more about sales tax, check out our Sales Tax 101 for Online Sellers guide.

TaxJar is a service that makes sales tax reporting and filing simple for more than 10,000 online sellers.  Try a 30-day-free trial of TaxJar today and eliminate sales tax compliance headaches from your life!


About the Author

Jennifer Dunn is the Chief of Content at TaxJar, the leading sales tax compliance software for online sellers. Try a 30-day free trial of TaxJar and put a lid on sales tax!

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ShipperHQ and GDPR: Important Information for ShipperHQ Customers

Author: Daniel Ziegler  |  June 4, 2018

If you do or your company operate in the EU or European Economic Area (EEA) or if you do business with anyone located there you’ve likely already heard about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that goes into effect today. In essence, GDPR is a set of laws and regulations backed by stiff penalties that apply to all organizations worldwide who collect, store, or process information about individuals in the EU. Since GDPR is a far-reaching and complex set of laws and regulations it’s important to seek other resources to understand GDPR and your obligations under it. For example, IAPP and DMA provide useful resources and companies like MailChimp and DotMailer have done an excellent job of compiling important information you should know.

We’ve always placed a high value on the privacy of the information shared with us by merchants using ShipperHQ. Because of this and by keeping the personal information we gather to the minimum required for ShipperHQ’s functionality, we’ve been compliant with many of the requirements of GDPR for a long time and nothing changes in how ShipperHQ functions. In the past few months, we’ve undergone an extensive review of our policies and procedures and can confirm that effective May 25th, 2018 we are compliant with GDPR.

We’ve taken a number of steps to ensure compliance:

  • Updated our User Agreement to make privacy and data handling much more clearly defined for ShipperHQ customers
  • Updated our Privacy Policy with additional tools and safeguards for your data and your customers’ data
  • Provide an optional Data Processing Addendum (DPA) providing additional protection to our customers who need it
  • Compiled a list of sub-processors we use which is available to our customers
  • Established training for current and future employees in data privacy

To help you understand how these changes impact you and your customers, we’ve also compiled this summary. This summary is not legal advice but we hope it serves as a useful outline for you. If you have a ShipperHQ account and are impacted by GDPR it’s important that you understand what we’re doing to be compliant by reading our updated Privacy Policy and User Agreement and contacting us if you have any questions.

For Retailers Using ShipperHQ

We collect some information from you when you set up your ShipperHQ account or as you set up additional features and functionality. This information can include:

  1. Your name and contact info so that we can get in touch with you about your account or, if you allow us to, send product updates and messages about new features from us or our partners.
  2. Billing information which might include credit or debit card details, billing addresses, or bank details. This information is only used to pay for your ShipperHQ account.
  3. Information you provide while setting up your ShipperHQ account which may include warehouse addresses, account details for your service providers, etc. This information is only ever used to allow ShipperHQ to do what you tell it to do.
  4. Information from shipping quote requests you send to ShipperHQ while using our system. See the section for Customers of Retailers below for more information on what information is collected and how we use it. 

If you’re using ShipperHQ, you’re also providing us with some information about your customers. This information and how it’s used is explained more fully below but it’s important to understand that it is your responsibility to ensure that you have the right to collect this information from your customers and protect this information while it is in any system you control and while it’s being sent to us.

Your data is your own

All of the configuration and usage information in your ShipperHQ account is your data. For personal information contained in configuration and usage data, you can ask us at any time to remove this information from our system and we will do that within a reasonable timeframe. Since this data is used to enable specific functionality in ShipperHQ, if you ask us to delete some or all of your data we may inform you that this will mean you can not use certain functionality or would need to cancel your ShipperHQ account entirely. If this is the case, the decision is always yours under the terms of our User Agreement.

We are required by law to keep a record of some information for a certain amount of time even if you cancel your ShipperHQ account. We will only keep the information required by law and let you know exactly what we will keep and for how long if requested. It may not be possible to delete some information immediately (for example, when stored in a backup system) even if we’re allowed to by law but if so this information will be prevented from being used until it can be deleted.

In order to provide our team with additional information to ensure that ShipperHQ operates correctly or to improve the operation of ShipperHQ we aggregate some data from all of our customers. We also may use aggregated data for marketing purposes, for example to describe the number of shipping quote requests processed by ShipperHQ. When used for any of these purposes, the data is fully anonymized and extremely limited so that no one can identify data originating from you or your customers. You can request that we do not use your data in this way or a full explanation of exactly what data may be used and how by contacting us.

We safeguard your data

We employ industry-standard best practices to keep your data safe including a variety of security practices and tools internally to make sure that members of the ShipperHQ team only have access to the information they need to do their job.

If we identify any data breaches which may expose personal information, we will notify you as appropriate and work with you to take whatever steps are necessary to address the issue.

ShipperHQ uses some third party applications or services (sub-processors) in order to operate correctly and your data may pass through or be stored by these applications as described in our Privacy Policy and User Agreement. These may include providers of application hosting or storage, payment processors, or analytics tools. All sub-processors used by ShipperHQ agree to protect your data with the same or greater security practices used by ShipperHQ and no sub-processor is permitted to access your data except for the specific purpose of ShipperHQ’s operational needs. You can contact us at any time for a list of sub-processors used by ShipperHQ.

For Customers of Retailers Using ShipperHQ

If you shop on a website which uses ShipperHQ, we may collect some information that you provide to that website in order to give you shipping information on behalf of the retailer. This information may include: your name, your company name, contact information such as telephone number or email address, the address you are shipping to, or other pieces of data required to provide you with shipping information.

We limit our use of your data

We store all of the information we collect about a shipping information request for up to 90 days in order to allow us to support the retailers using our system. This information is only used by our technical support team to identify issues when necessary and access is limited to only those members of our team who need access to do their job.

We also store a very limited set of information indefinitely. This information may include the city, state or region, post or ZIP code, and country that you enter as well as the total weight, price, and quantity of the products in your order. This information is used to give the retailer you are buying from analytical information about shipping information requests. This information may also be anonymized in such a way that no one can reasonably identify you and used by ShipperHQ to track performance of our system or for marketing purposes.

Your data is your own

At any time you can ask the retailer using ShipperHQ to request that all of your data is deleted. They can request that ShipperHQ deletes your information and we will do so as described in our User Agreement with that retailer.

For All Visitors to Our Websites

We use standard tools for tracking visitors to our website. This is in the form of cookies that are stored on the device you use to browse our website. This information is used so that we can see how visitors are interacting with our website and measure the success of our online marketing. You can use your web browser settings to stop us from creating or using these cookies at any time but if you do so you may not be able to use certain features or functionality of our websites.

If You Have Questions

We want you to know how we use your information and what your rights are with respect to your data. You can find full details in our Privacy Policy and User Agreement or contact us if you have any questions.

If you expect to collect and send to us information which is more sensitive than usual, operate in or work with companies or individuals within the European Economic Area or EU, or if you otherwise need additional safeguards than those provided by our standard policies, please contact us to discuss an additional Data Processing Addendum (DPA).

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