Ready to move past ePacket? We explain our top choice for shipping products from China!
During the COVID19 pandemic, we received a lot of questions about how to solve ePacket China shipping problems. Large numbers of e-commerce stores were faced with trying to navigate weeks-long delays, searching for missing products, and fielding an avalanche of customer complaints. It was an especially difficult time for dropshippers, who lacked access to alternative shipping options.
It surprised many to hear that we rarely use ePacket and that we instead use a service called YunExpress for China shipping. We have found it to be an excellent alternative to ePacket, generally offering faster shipping, more consistent shipping times, and overall increased profits.
Prefer to watch the video? We have our in-depth discussion posted here on our YouTube channel.
Brief History of ePacket
To really understand why YunExpress is able to be so much better than ePacket, it helps to understand the history of how ePacket came to be. Its origins can be traced back to 1874 to the Universal Postal Union, which was a shipping treaty between several countries to adopt a standard international postage rate. Eventually, more than 190 nations would come to accept this standard. This allowed for much cheaper cross border mail delivery, and in particular for China.
It was from the Universal Postal Union that ePacket was able to emerge.
Psst, if you’re interested in a thorough history of China fulfillment, check out our blog post.
What ePacket Offers Today
While we primarily use YunExpress because of the benefits it offers for e-commerce shipping, you should understand that ePacket is not all bad. It still offers a lot of benefits, which e-commerce stores and dropshippers can take advantage of. Some of those benefits include:
- 9-15 day shipping (usually)
- Used by more than 35 different countries
- Decent tracking (kind of)
- Enabled the dropshipping industry to take off
Problems with ePacket
Though ePacket does have a lot of benefits, it also has some significant drawbacks, especially if you are trying to establish a reliable brand or otherwise set the foundation for long-term business. The major problems with ePacket arise from the fact that it is not designed for e-commerce shipping. It was originally designed for cross-border shipping, which leads us to our first major problem:
ePacket depends on passenger flights for shipping
When order delivery supply chains are healthy and shipping demand is low, ePacket usually performs well. However, if there is any kind of a shock to your supply chain, ePacket does not have the flexibility to adapt. It can’t increase passenger flights for when demand is heavy and should passenger flights become disrupted (especially with the COVID-19 pandemic), ePacket simply has no recourse.
This is why dropshippers struggle with the high demand for Q4 shipping (holiday shopping season), and why many dropshipping businesses simply shutdown when COVID-19 hit. Delays like this can also be non-transparent, so you and your customers may have no idea that shipping has been delayed. Unreliable delivery times are a major barrier when it comes to building customer loyalty.
ePacket has little to no control of the shipping process once it reaches the destination country.
Once the product reaches the destination country, it is transferred to the local postal system. That means if there is a shipping problem beyond that point, ePacket will have little, if any, information to give you. This can create a very poor customer experience which can impact your future profits.
Packages sent with ePacket use separate custom clearance.
This is one of the biggest factors that can impact shipping times. Each package has to be cleared by the customs office of each destination country and depending on how stringent a country’s customs process might be, it can cause unreliable shipping times.
Using Sweden as an example, anywhere from 20-30% of packages get stuck in customs because their process is so strict. This can cause huge, unexpected delays which will hurt the trustworthiness of your brand.
ePacket labeling can make establishing a private label brand difficult.
When packages arrive to your customers from ePacket, you can expect at least two things to almost always be present:
- Lots of Chinese writing (in addition to the language of the country of origin)
- A declared value for customs printed on the shipping label.
While the presence of Chinese writing isn’t inherently bad, if your customers are buying from a western-branded store, they may be surprised to see anything other than English on the label. Most of your customers also aren’t familiar with the customs process for international goods. Whereas you know that a low declared value works to the benefit of your customers, they may be confused to see their $20 product having a declared value of $2. Both of these problems create a poor customer experience that can impact their willingness to purchase from you again in the future.
If you are testing products or building your first store, ePacket can be a great option and resource. However, if you are focused on long-term growth or brand building, you need to be willing to invest in service that provides the best customer experience.
YunExpress: Top ePacket Alternative
As we have said, we almost exclusively use YunExpress for our shipping purposes. It is affordable, reliable, and consistent. It also directly addresses the major concerns from using ePacket.
YunExpress: A Brief History
To really understand how YunExpress is able to offer better service than ePacket, it is helpful to understand where exactly it came from. Unlike ePacket, which originates from cross-border shipping in general, YunExpress was developed specifically for cross-border e-commerce shipping. In fact, YunExpress was started by entrepreneurs who were dissatisfied with the shipping experience ePacket provided.
The Benefits of Using YunExpress:
There are huge benefits to using YunExpress, especially if you are serious about brand development or private labeling in a western market:
- YuneExpress is fast, consistent, and reliable
- Clearer labeling
- Optimized routing and customs
- Made for e-commerce
Shipping is much faster and more reliable.
While shipping can vary, it is faster and more consistent through YunExpress. Even during Q4, you can expect the following shipping times to be consistent:
- Express Shipping – 4-8 days to the US, UK, SP, IT, FR, and DE
- Regular Line Shipping – 7-12 days to more than 30 countries
Those are fantastic shipping times, but that isn’t what makes YunExpress our go-to. It is because of how consistent the shipping times are. Even in Q4, the Express Shipping option delivers 98% of packages before Christmas for orders sent out as late as Dec 14th. The customer experience this creates is incredible.
The simple truth is: You can’t plan your business around the best shipping times possible. Instead, you need to plan around worst-case scenarios, which is where YunExpress really shines–and where ePacket really struggles.
How is YunExpress able to offer such reliable shipping?
This is the big question, right? As we mentioned, YunExpress was founded by entrepreneurs who wanted to streamline cross-border e-commerce shipping. They have put several things in place that create consistent shipping that ePacket simply can’t match.
YunExpress uses freight shipping, not commercial planes.
This means they can be flexible in how they can respond to customer demand. They also avoid restrictions that would impact shipping done by commercial flights (for example, the numerous restrictions set in place due to COVID-19).
YunExpress bids higher for shipping room during busy shipping times.
YunExpress will increase prices during busy shipping times (like Q4) in order to bid higher on limited space on cargo planes. In doing so, they are able to keep their shipping times consistent. It’s also why you can ship orders well into December and still have them arrive by Christmas.
YunExpress increases warehouse space during busy shipping times.
Since YunExpress owns their warehouses all around the world, they are able to increase their warehouse capacity in order to be ready for the busy holiday shopping season. Most recently, they increased their warehouse capacity by 6x to accommodate the flood of extra products during Q4.
Customs and shipping processes have been optimized for e-commerce.
YunExpress uses bulk shipping to streamline the customs process. For example, when shipping to Europe, they do not send each individual package to its destination country. Instead, the orders are shipped in bulk to the Netherlands, which has one of the easiest and fastest customs processes in Europe. Once packages pass customs, they are then shipped to the final destination country, never having to worry about customs again. This also means that the label will be completely in English and will not have a customs declaration.
You may have already noticed another significant benefit already. YunExpress has a hand in shipping from the time the product enters its facility from the manufacturer all the way to when it gets into your customers’ hands. The customer is able to track their product for its entire journey, reducing customer frustration as well as questions they may send to you.
This translates to consistent shipping times that will largely be unaffected by customs, which in turn creates an ideal customer experience.
ePacket vs YunExpress Cost Comparison
Even if the benefits are clearly evident, knowing that YunExpress offers a much better shipping experience won’t do you much good if it’s too expensive. You may be surprised to hear that YunExpress will generally only cost $.15 – $.30 per package more when compared to ePacket. When comparing the Express Service offered by YunExpress, it could be only a couple of dollars more expensive.
While no business wants to increase the cost of operating, you should consider using YunExpress as an investment in long-term growth and brand building. It is a comparatively low-cost way to vastly improve the customer experience and to build brand loyalty. This is especially true if you are interested in developing a private label brand, where consistency and trustworthiness are key to gaining customers.
How to use YunExpress
As an eCommerce store owner, or as a dropshipper, you can’t just jump in and start using YunExpress. There are key steps you need to follow to be sure that you are able to the full benefit of using Yunexpress.
- Get an agent. AliExpress does not support YunExpress, so having an agent will be paramount.
- The agent you choose should have a direct relationship with YunExpress. For example, you need to be sure that there is a courier truck going from your manufacturer to the YunExpress warehouse every day. Consistent shipping times from YunExpress won’t do you much good if your products are getting delivered to their warehouse days late.
- The agent you choose should be located in Shenzhen. This is where YunExpress HQ is located, so having an agent located here will ensure the fastest shipping times.
Ready to Upgrade Your Supply Chain?
If you feel that YunExpress is the missing piece of the puzzle, and you have 50 daily orders or more, we would love to talk to you about becoming your China-based 3PL. We are located in Shenzhen and already have a dedicated relationship with YunExpress.
EcommOps is ready to chat! Many of our clients are former dropshippers who decided they were ready to massively scale up their business. Contact us, and our experts will be ready to review your fulfillment needs and to determine which of our services will be a great match.