Sunday, January 6, 2013

International shipping

Shopping online at overseas sites is not really something that is foreign to me (pun intended) but most of the time, the shipments are arranged by the seller and I just need to pay accordingly.

However this is the first time that I actually did quite a bit of research on how to ship something back home and it was educational.

For one, shipping with well known couriers like DHL Express, UPS and FedEx can be very expensive as they provide a premium service, starting from picking the item up and delivering them right to the door. The items can also be tracked online with a tracking number assigned to each delivery. 

They are also expensive because they charge base not just by weight but also volumetric weight, whichever is higher. Volumetric weight is a weight calculation base on the size of the item using a certain formula. Therefore, shipping in a bulky item can be costly even if it do not weigh much.

One thing I learnt today is that DHL Express is a subsidiary of Deutsche Post (German Post). While DHL Express is a premium service hence expensive, there is another DHL service called DHL Paket.

DHL Paket however is handled by Deutsche Post directly (not by DHL Express) and is much cheaper. The reason is because they will not be involved every single step of the way. Instead, they handle the shipment within Germany and when the shipment reaches the destination country, they pass the responsibility to the local postal company. So for example, if the destination is Singapore, it will then be handled by, for example, SpeedPost once it reaches our shores. You will be provided with a tracking number and the items can be tracked by both postal service depending on where the items are currently.

The good thing about DHL Paket is that they do not based the shipping cost on volumetric weight but on a flat  maximum actual size and weight rate so long as your item can fit within the limits.

You can also opt for premium service that includes insurance for your item for up to 500 EUR (about 750 SGD) for an additional sum.

You can view the details of DHL Paket service to Singapore here. (Use Google translate)

The catch here is, DHL Paket only delivers from Germany. There are also other postal service that has similar arrangement, such as USPS which ships item from the US.

Also, it depends a lot on who is the local postal company that will be handling the item. With so many complaints about SpeedPost lately, shipping with DHL Paket and the like requires a serious consideration.

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