Guide to Cross-Border Shipping

Does it seem as if your local customer base has stagnated? If so, you are not alone. In the past, there was little that a company could do to grow outside of its local area and even less was possible for international shipping unless you charged exorbitant shipping fees. However, as we experience an increasingly global economy there are incredible growth opportunities with the right shipping options.

In particular, if you are a Canadian or United States based company, one of the best ways to expand your audience is to incorporate cross-border shipping from Canada and the United States. Both countries enjoy the benefits of a long, undefended border where nearly anything can be delivered by freight truck, one of the most cost effective shipping methods.

Here, we’ll look at what cross-border shipping entails, its benefits for your company, and barriers to entry along with how to find the best cross-border carrier for your needs.

Ways to Sell Internationally: Cross-Border Shipping Vs. Warehousing

Cross-border shipping is the term used to describe the process of transporting goods from one country to another. It can involve any mode of transport including shipping by truck, plane, train, or boat. However, some companies choose the warehousing option where they ship a large quantity of product to be stored in a warehouse in another country. Products then ship locally from that warehouse when an order is placed.

Each method has certain advantages and disadvantages. With warehousing, your customers in other countries will benefit from having a faster, local shipping option. However, successful warehousing depends on how quickly products will sell in that market. Costs for storing items may not be justified if they do not sell quickly enough. Additionally, even shelf stable food items can become stale if in storage too long, so the type of product is also a consideration.


Other Cross-Border Selling and Shipping Considerations

While coordinating ways to ship items is the main concern of cross-border shipping, to be successful you will also need to consider the market you are selling in. This includes choosing the right carriers and payment options along with employing localized SEO and marketing.  When beginning to sell in a new country and market, consider these points:

  • Local Market Prices: Are you under or over pricing your products? The only way to know is to research what local competitors are charging. This step may be necessary before you even decide to sell in a certain market place since you might not be able to beat local prices on certain things.
  • Currency Conversion and Payment Options: No matter how you sell your products, you need to consider how to make it easy for your customers to buy them. One of the most important and easiest ways to do this is to ensure your website is updated with the local currency conversion and has payment options that work in that area.
  • Local SEO Content: Consider making a version of your website for the country you are selling in. You can then tailor this version to include keywords that will appeal to customers in this market and will also be more likely for search engines to find your site as well.
  • Inform Customers of Shipping Times: If you plan to use cross-border shipping and not warehousing, it is important that customers know that shipping will take longer. If possible, offer an expedited or express shipping option but the most important thing is being honest and upfront about how long shipping can take.
  • Consider Last Mile Carrier Services: If you are shipping to residential customers, you should consider what last mile delivery options exist in this area. While you may find a carrier that can get your items from your home country to the next country, you may need another carrier entirely to get items to their final destination. Look into this first before committing to a delivery plan.

Choosing the Right Cross-Border Carrier for Your Needs

When choosing a carrier for cross-border shipping, there are several things you need to take into account to make sure they can serve your customers’ needs. While cost tends to be the first and most important consideration, you should also look at speed and the exact services they offer, such as last mile delivery and expedited services.  Look at these items when choosing your cross-border carrier:

  • Experience in the Marketplace: A carrier who might have a great track record in shipping to the United States may not be able to fulfill your needs when expanding to Europe. Before committing to a carrier, look for reviews that are for the specific area you intend to expand to. Look for complaints about slow delivery or customer service issues since these are important factors in retaining your customers.
  • Customs Fees and Experience: Check to see if your carrier offers Deliver Duty Paid (DDP) or Deliver Duty Unpaid (DDU). Each has advantages and disadvantages for you and your customers in terms of who pays which fees. Similarly, you want a carrier who is experienced with navigating customs in your chosen country since policies can vary greatly.
  • Speed Vs. Cost: When shipping across oceans, a freight boat is typically the cheapest means to do this. However, it is also the slowest. Take into consideration the types of items you are selling and if they can survive a boat trip that could take weeks. Shipping by plane is the other mode of transportation and is much faster but also much more expensive.
  • Multiple Modes of Shipping: Often the best policy is to offer several shipping modes including a cheap option and a fast option. For this, you may need multiple carriers though some may be able to offer both.

cross border

Partner with RoadLINX

Cross-border shipping is an important part of expanding your business but it can be a difficult process to navigate as you get started. At RoadLINX, we offer cross-border shipping between Canada and the United States and globally. Our network of experienced carriers has the services you need to serve your customers with cost effective and time sensitive shipping.

To receive a free quote on cross-border shipping, fill out our shipping rates form  and our experienced team will provide a custom quote.

Get a quote today!

What Are the Size and Weight Limitations for Air Freight from Toronto to Chicago?
Air vs Ground Shipping: What’s the Best Way to Ship Goods from Toronto to Chicago?
Navigating Import Taxes: Understanding the Cost of Bringing Cars into Canada
The Best Options for Car Shipping in Canada: A Comprehensive Guide to Safe and Efficient Vehicle Transportation

Top Freight Trucking & International Shipping Services in North America

Office Address
501 Rowntree Dairy Road, Unit #4, Woodbridge, ON L4L 8H1
Warehouse Address
6221 Highway 7 West, Unit #3, Vaughan, ON L4H 0K8

Sign up for industry alerts, insights & news from RoadLINX