1) An overview of international eCommerce from India to USA
India shares a positive trade relationship with USA. Trading figures in the financial year 2021-22 indicate that USA is India's foremost trading partner, with a record bilateral trade worth $119.42 billion in the same FY.
eCommerce takes up a modest space in bilateral trade. India has secured a place among the top ten countries in cross-border eCommerce trade. With a flourishing eCommerce sector in India, it is expected that Indian eCommerce businesses will likely spread across the US market.
Indian merchants have four possible ways to enter the US market. They can sell from their domestic website, create a US website, partner with a third-party marketplace, or ally with US distributors. Marketplaces like Amazon and eBay take up the majority of all online retail sales in the US.
Whichever option you choose to sell your products, it is essential to note how eCommerce shipping from India to USA work. International shipping has many more factors to consider than domestic shipping, especially if you plan to ship to a competitive marketplace like USA.
So, let’s take an in-depth look at how eCommerce shipping operates from India to USA, starting with the different stages involved in international shipping.
2) Stages of eCommerce Shipping from India to USA
International shipping of ocean freight involves four key stakeholders: the merchant or 3PL (the shipper), the customers who will receive the shipment (consignee), the freight forwarder who tackles international logistics shipping, and the owner company of shipping vessels that ultimately transport the goods (shipping line). Apart from these, there are booking agents and brokers of the customs house. Together, they hold up the entire process of eCommerce shipping from India to USA.
2.1) Hauling Cargo to Export
Cargo for exports is usually taken to an origin warehouse either maintained by a freight forwarder or connected with one. The journey is made by trucks or railways or both. Typically this part of the journey is carried out by the shipper.
2.2) Export Clearing Customs
In this stage, the flow of cargo from India to USA is recorded and authorized by customs house brokers who have valid customs licenses before it leaves the origin country. This clearance is either done by an agent appointed by the freight forwarder or an agent set by the shipper.
2.3) Origin Handling
After the cargo is authorized to be exported, then comes the process of inspecting the shipment, planning for its loading, consolidating it with other freight, stuffing it into the shipping container and moving to the port for its final journey on a ship.
2.4) Air or Ocean Freight
After loading the cargo on the ship, the ocean freight embarks on the waters for the destination port. The shipping line in contract solely with the freight forwarder monitors and regulates this stage. The cost of transporting with various surcharges is levied on the shipper or the consignee.
2.5) Import Custom Clearance
Import customs clearance occurs before the cargo reaches the destination country and is secured in a customs bonded area. A freight forwarding company can also handle this secured warehouse in the destination country. Import customs clearance involves the submission and authorisation of various documents like purchase orders, license for importing, list of shipments and origin certificate, bill of entry, etc.
2.6) Handling Haulage for Imports
This stage involves the transport of the containers from the port to a destination warehouse, including unloading cargo from the container. Thereafter the cargo is handled by either a truck company appointed by the shipper or is carried by the freight forwarder on the shipper’s behalf.
3) The Two eCommerce Shipping Methods from India to USA
eCommerce shipping for international trade has two routes. Let’s take a brief look at both of them.
3.1) Ocean Freight
So far, the most popular option of international shipping is ocean freight and carriage of cargo in a container. For more oversized shipments, ocean freight is ideal for lowering costs. However, ocean freight is slower than air freight and usually takes around six to nine weeks.
Within container shipping, there is a further division between FCL and LCL. This division is based on container storage, where a container’s total capacity is used in FCL, and the storage space is shared with other shippers in LCL.
3.2) Air Freight
Though relatively more expensive than cargo, air freight or the movement of goods with an air carrier drastically cuts down shipping time by at least 2o days.
Air freight usually has two modes: International and Express air weight. The former is used for larger shipments and moves through various carriers, while the latter involves the shipment of smaller parcels (below 1 cubic meter and 200 kgs) handled by a single carrier.
4) Why use Courier Services for eCommerce Shipping from India to USA
The value of courier services for eCommerce shipping can’t be underrated. While the shipments land in the destination country via ocean or door, the door-to-door service is provided by a courier company. Here are a few reasons why you should consider involving a courier company, especially for the last-mile delivery.
4.1) Door-to-Door Delivery Service
Courier services complete the last leg of the eCommerce shipping journey- handling your product to your customers. Two crucial factors for your business, customer satisfaction and time of delivery are accomplished by courier service.
4.2) Tracking Shipment
With the shipment tracking features embedded with most carriers, you don’t have to worry about the location and state of your cargo during the in-transit journey.
4.3) Accessible Pricing
It is convenient to handle the cost of shipping and determine the price of your product by incorporating courier services. You can then make important decisions about free shipping, discounts and promotions etc.
4.4) Flexible Payment Choices
Courier services also provide flexible payment options for you and your customers, especially online payment methods.
Getting insurance for international eCommerce shipping is critical. Insurance provided by courier companies insures you from theft and damage and is relatively easier to include in your budget.
5) Couriers offering eCommerce Shipping from India to USA
Don’t you agree that having the right shipping partner is the easiest way to manage eCommerce shipping from India to USA? Yes, it is! This is why we have curated a list of shipping couriers best suited to facilitate the eCommerce journey to the USA.
DHL Parcel International Direct (E) is the flagship program for eCommerce shipping from India to USA. DHL is already known for its reliable, fast and affordable shipping.
DHL has a complete end-to-end solution for tackling the entire eCommerce shipping process, from warehousing to last-mile deliveries. DHL Terminal and Direct Line Haul takes care of the processing of parcels, consolidation of shipments and transportation by air to USA.
They also provide commercial clearance and levy no import duties on orders below $800. The DHL eCommerce Service then handles the last-mile delivery.
More added advantages include shipment tracking and visibility, market research, complete management of customs clearance, and customer service.
FedEx is a name that always comes up in conversations whenever one talks about shipping from India to USA, and for good reasons. FedEx International shipping service has four categories:
- FedEx International Priority with a transit time of 2 business days.
- FedEx International Priority Freight with a transit time of 4 business days.
- FedEx International Economy with a transit time of 4 business days
- FedEx International Economy Freight with a transit time of 5 business days.
The transit time increases by two or three more days if the parcel is more than 68 kgs.
FedEx is well equipped to handle customs clearance with 16 facilities located in India and fast shipping with the largest number of cargo flights to USA, Europe and Asia.
FedEx also provides services tackling freight collection and storage at FedEx locations, delivery after invoice acceptance, customs clearance, and on-time door to door delivery to US customers.
The Export Express by Aramex is another popular option for eCommerce shipping from India to USA. The Export Express has real-time tracking, handles delivery notifications, and multivariate customs clearance features. If you plan to ship from India to USA, you can avail of the following service: Priority Parcel Express, Economy Parcel Express, Ground Parcel Express and Value Express Parcel.
UPS keeps recurring whenever eCommerce shipping is mentioned. USP has a vast collection of freight services, including international and North American air freight, ocean freight, ground freight and UPS critical service called UPS Express Critical for time-sensitive deliveries.
With UPS Import control program, managing shipping costs and delays becomes a breeze. They offer various services like creating personalised shipping labels, commercial invoices, complete visibility of the entire in-bound supply chair, preventing fraud, and protecting confidentiality.
UPS offers the following international shipping services:
- Expedited shipping within 3 business days with economical rates and in-house customs clearance.
- Worldwide Express shipping within 2 business days with three attempted deliveries and money-back guarantee subject to certain conditions.
- Express Plus has a shipping speed of two business days and similar benefits as express delivery.
- Worldwide Express Saver shipping within 3 business days with free UPS packaging and an economical option for fast delivery.
BlueDart works with DHL for international eCommerce shipping and delivery of parcels and documents. It offers origin handling for exports, clearing customs, real-time tracking, packaging options and door-to-door delivery service.
Let’s look at the four most popular shipping options of BlueDart:
i) DHL Express Worldwide
This service is further divided into delivering documents and durable goods like garments, electronics etc., for fast, reliable and secure delivery.
ii) The Express Easy Box 8 and 6
This service offers a flat international shipping rate for shipments between 10 and 25 kgs. It also comes with a packaging option.
iii) DHL Import Express Worldwide
A representative of the largest express network for international shipping, this service opens the door to 214 countries. With a single account, you get multiple benefits of affordable pricings, shipment visibility, an invoice in domestic currency and in-house customs clearance.
iv) Express Pallet
This unique packaging box is suitable for shipments between 50 and 100 kgs. It is weather-resistant and has the door-to-door delivery feature.
6) Rules to follow when shipping from India to USA
6.1) Know the prohibited items
There are several prohibited items that you cannot ship. Some are hazardous items like explosives, firearms, narcotics, gases, poisons and toxins. Others include perfume, aerosols, dairy, plants and fresh foods.
6.2) Documents required for shipping
There are a number of legal documents related to the products, duties and customs that have to be produced during export and import in customs respective customs clearance houses. Starting with a commercial invoice, a shipping document including your essential information about your business and shipment like sender’s and customer’s address, airway bill, the purpose of export, HS code, package weight etc.
Thereafter you have a packing list, certificate of origin, bills of lading, shipper’s letter of instructions, bank draft and dangerous goods forms.
6.3) Certificates Needed for Quality Checks
Certificates such as FDA, ISO, and ACM quality certifications and Customer Satisfaction Quality Certifications are vital to guarantee the quality and safety of your products for the consumers use in USA. These certificates also issue trust and confidence in customers to use your products.
6.4) Import Duties
To estimate the import duties, you have to consider your product’s corresponding HTS (Harmonized Tariff System) rate available in the Tariff Database of the U.S. International Trade Commission.
6.5) Calculating Landed Cost
Total landed cost is the sum of all the expenditures you make when shipping your product to USA. Essentially you can add your product and shipping price with customs duties paid, overhead costs and risk costs (if any).
You can also use any international shipping calculators to arrive at your landed cost.
eCommerce shipping from India to the USA is a complex journey, but it can be simplified if you are well aware of all the elements that make the shipping process. From choosing freight forwarders to collecting all necessary documents, there are plenty of decisions to be made. But, with the right information and correct courier partners, your eCommerce shipping journey to USA can be a fulfilling, fun and positive experience.