This page provides considerations and best practices for cross-border ecommerce sales channel shipments.
Last Published: 10/30/2018

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Once your product has been purchased online, you must determine the best way to get the product to the consumer. Many small and new businesses choose the “do it yourself” (DIY) method when it comes to shipping and fulfillment. This tends to be more work, and errors or oversight can occur.

Here are some of the key components outlined:

  • Shipping Price. Not surprisingly, the more your site users are charged for shipping, the less likely they are to want to purchase your product. Online “shopping cart abandonment” is often caused by unexpectedly high shipping prices. In a study done by United Parcel Service (UPS,) 55 percent of shoppers abandoned their shopping carts before purchasing because shipping and handling costs were too high.

  • Warehousing. Where you will store your product? If you currently have a warehouse or storage facility you use for brick-and-mortar sales, then the same facility may work. However, keep in mind that B2B transactions often involve bulk quantities, so once you are involved in B2B ecommerce, you may need to expand your space or look for other options.

  • Packaging Cost. Another way to minimize shipping costs is to use the correct packaging. In general, smaller and lighter packaging is better, because shipments are most often paid for by size or weight. 

  • Tracking and Insuring. Insurance is often offered by a third party, so make sure to do your research on the insurer and to inform the customer about the insurer. Major carriers also include some form of shipping insurance with their service as a guarantee.

  • Selecting a Carrier. The major carriers used for cross-border ecommerce tend to be FedEx, UPS, and USPS.  Along with selecting a suitable carrier, you should be sure to include on your checkout page what carrier you are using and when the customer or business can expect the package.

  • Shipping Internationally. Tariffs, taxes, or duties may need to be paid for items to enter or leave a country. A good website to find accurate estimates on international duties and taxes is, or simply contact your nearest U.S. Commercial Service Office to receive personal assistance from an international trade specialist. The customer or business that purchases the product will be responsible for paying those fees upon delivery, and it is a good idea to give customers notice of the fees, and include the proper forms and documents with the shipment to ensure that shipment will clear customs in the destination country. 

  •  Integrating Software. eCommerce software service providers such as shopping carts and payment gateways can seamlessly integrate into your ecommerce sofware platform and can provide you a one-stop shop for all of your shipping needs. They will track, invoice, label, document, integrate with multiple carriers for postage printing, and even generate data reports on shipments for your business. Those services usually charge a flat monthly rate (usually $25–$300 depending on the number of shipments your business makes) and can be accessed from your ecommerce platform’s list of plugins and extensions. Be sure to shop around the various services offered as many have special features, pros, and cons.

Have you considered international fulfillment and shipping tools & services?

fulfillment service provider is something you may want to look into to help you with managing your online order shipments.  When an order is made on your website, your fulfillment service provider with either pick up the product from your business or will have it already stored in its warehouse.  From there the fulfillment service provider will then pack, complete shipping paperwork, and works with the shipping provider to deliver it to your customer.  Shipping cross-border ecommerce goods is the same process as international shipments and export shipments.  

Would your customers wait an extra week or more for your product to be delivered?

You need to provide shipping terms and conditions on your website for your international clients, so that they know there may be additional costs and shipping times due to the cross-border nature of the transaction.

Are you familiar with Incoterms?

You should be familiar with Incoterms  (International Commercial Terms) as they will play a direct role in the landed cost your consumer pays.  Incoterms are the same for traditional exporting as they are for cross-border ecommerce.

Who is your shipping service provider, and are they suitable for your specific needs?

Each shipping service provider has their own set of strengths, specialty service offerings, and levels of service that sets them apart from their competition.  It is up to you to decide which services and specialties you require to make cross-border ecommerce an enjoyable experience for your clients. 

Are your shipping terms and costs clearly explained and identified?  

You need to clearly state the shipping terms, conditions, options, timelines and costs associated with international shipping to leave no surprises for your customer. 


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