When you own an eCommerce store, the vast majority of the time, you will be buying your stock from Chinese wholesalers. And if you run a dropshipping store, then most likely, your products will be sent directly to your customer also from China.
China is at the forefront of making and selling most of the products and trinkets that people use on a daily basis. There is no country in the world that can produce such a huge volume of goods so quickly or so cheaply. Therefore, buying from China is almost unavoidable. Especially if you want to make as much profit as you can from your online store.
The biggest upside to using Chinese-made goods is the price. You can bulk buy and pay pennies for your store’s stock. However, the biggest downside you and your customers will experience is shipping times. As good as airmail and sea shipping is, it’s still not good enough to produce the kinds of shipping times that a lot of customers are looking for – namely, next day, or two-day delivery.
However, because the prices are so low, frequently, online shoppers are willing to overlook longer delivery times if it means they can get their hands on a new pair of shoes or brand new earphones for a fraction of the price that their local store is selling them at.
So, just what can you expect in terms of delivery times when you and your customers are buying from China? In this article, we will focus on the shipping times between China and the U.S due to its popularity, but you will be able to find your own country’s shipping expectations by searching online.
The Main Options
Any shipping that isn’t by air, such as the regular post or sea mail will take far longer. Sometimes you can specifically choose air mail, but you won’t always be given the choice. Especially, if you are working with a dropshipping supplier. They tend to choose the method of their preference from their end.
However, fortunately, China Post delivers via air mail and is the most common choice for suppliers and buyers, particularly if the package is small or contains a small quantity. If this type of regular post is used, then the package can go from China to the U.S within one to two weeks. These are pretty standard times and should be closer to one week than two.
One important thing to note is that you must ensure your supplier has the correct information for their shipping forms. U.S Customs will delay or not prioritize items that don’t have the correct paperwork and this could cause weeks of unnecessary delays.
Express Shipping Options
If you need a package sending from China urgently and it doesn’t have to go by sea then you can choose an express shipping option. This option evokes an international courier and is the quickest way to get a delivery coming in at just three days. Of course, for such a fast turn around you should expect to pay a higher price for such a luxury. But depending on the parcel and your need for it, the price might be worth it in the end.
If your package is lucky enough to end up on a cargo plane then you can expect a turnaround time of eight to ten days, that’s not even with the express option. While eight to ten days may still seem like a lot, there is unfortunately just a lot of paperwork and processes involved. In fact, if people saw how many processes were involved in air shipping then they’d be impressed rather than disappointed. If you want a quicker service, then express air mail will end up being two or three days faster.
Sea Freight from China to the US
Coming in at the slowest time frame is sea freight shipping. If your parcel ends up traveling by sea, you can expect to wait realistically between thirty and forty days. Unfortunately, there is no quicker way when it comes to the sea, and it doesn’t look that that’s going to improve any time soon either. There are just too many processes and potential delays involved. For example, US Customs requires importers using a single entry bond, and going by ocean freight, to also take out an ISF bond. In addition to this, you have port congestion, customs delays, and bad weather conditions. The weather especially affects sea freights to a much greater level than it affects planes.
According to Freightos, the general rule for lead times are 1-2 weeks for regular post, 3 days for air express freight, 8-10 days for air freight, and 30-40 days for ocean freight. These times may seem long, especially for an ocean freight but when you consider the amount of work involved in shipping goods to the other side of the world on the ocean, it’s actually a marvellous feat.
Freightos also provides a shipping calculator so you can get real time estimates based on current shipments. Their calculator is the most accurate way to know beforehand how long your future parcel is going to take. You can find their calculator by clicking here.
At the time of writing his article, Covid-19 is still an ongoing issue and is affecting shipping just like it’s affecting most industries in various ways. However, while international shipping has slowed down or experienced delays here and there over the past year, most packages are still finding their way to the owner on time. The delays, if any, will depend on your location as different countries currently have different rules when it comes to accepting freights and shipments from abroad.
The good news is, though, that things are slowly falling back into place, and your eCommerce store shouldn’t notice much difference than normal with shipping – so keep on selling and make those sales!