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Becoming a Non-Resident Importer to Canada

August 17th, 2018 Comments off

Canada, our familiar neighbors to the north. When looking to grow globally, Canada is easily the first place to look for e-commerce merchants in the U.S. It’s only natural. We’re close to our Canadian neighbors in proximity, language and culture. Yet, exporting goods to Canada isn’t as easy as it may look.

U.S.-based retailers face a number of obstacles to selling in Canada. American retailers can’t collect Canadian sales tax at the time of purchase, only at the time of delivery. It can be a complicated process for Canadian buyers too. When Canadian customers buy from the U.S., they may be forced to go to their local customs office to pick up their purchase.

The result? A poor experience for the customer who may have to pay additional taxes or even visit a customs office just to pick up their online purchase. Luckily, there’s a way for U.S. online retailers to get around these issues in Canada: Become a non-resident importer.

What is a Non-Resident Importer?

A “non-resident importer” (or NRI) is defined as a business registered outside of Canada that assumes responsibility for customs clearance and other import-related requirements for bringing goods into Canada. Americans can register to become an NRI through the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

As a non-resident importer, you can pay Canadian duties and taxes before delivery. Saving customers the hassle of paying taxes after you deliver to them makes you more competitive in the Canadian market.

Competitive Advantages of Becoming a Non-Resident Importer

Once you become a non-resident importer, the process of buying becomes much more simple for your Canadian customers. The advantages of becoming an NRI for you and your customers are clear:

  • There’s no need for your Canadian customers to go all the way to a customs house to pick up a purchase, you can ship directly to their door
  • Tracking shipments to Canada from the U.S. becomes an entirely visible process, a package goes from the USPS to Canada Post
  • Your Canadian customers aren’t hit with additional taxes upon delivery
  • Because you can pay taxes to the Canadian government, you can give your customers clear product prices that include Canadian taxes

Responsibilities of Non-Resident Importers

When you become a non-resident importer, you must fulfill certain responsibilities. You also open yourself up to regulations and fines for not complying with those regulations. Plus, you’ll be dealing with more than one level of taxation. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is charged throughout Canada, while Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is charged in Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland/Labrador, New Brunswick, and Ontario.

Here are some of the issues you’ll need to navigate as a non-resident importer:

  • Canadian regulations require you to meet additional rules, such as having a Business Number and an Importer Number (or RM)
  • You’ll be responsible for collecting and paying both the Goods and Services Tax and Harmonized Sales Tax
  • File GST/HST sales tax returns on time, or be charged penalties
  • Provide customs documentation and pay customs duties to the correct Canadian government authorities
  • Make sure labeling and marketing follows Canadian laws
  • Once you get an income tax number, you’ll be subject to investigations of your books and records by Canadian tax authorities

Ready to Become a Non-Resident Importer?

Clearly, there are hurdles to becoming a non-resident importer. But the rewards are huge. You can be competitive with other Canada companies – without having a physical office, warehouse or retail location in Canada. Ready to get started? Learn more about the ins and outs of becoming a non-resident importer.

Categories: International Shipping, Shipping Tags:

Gearing Up For Back-to-School Season: 5 Tips to Increase Revenue

August 6th, 2018 Comments off

Back-to-school season is the second biggest shopping season of the year – both for e-commerce as well as retail. The only season that doesn’t beat back-to-school is the Christmas and Holiday season. The average back-to-school shopper spends more per household (estimated $510 per child) than the average shopper spends on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day COMBINED!

Pretty amazing, right? That’s why we thought it’s the perfect opportunity to delve a little deeper into Deloitte’s recent 2018 Back-to-School Survey. The report closely examines the shopping habits of 1,200 parents of school-aged kids (in grades K-12). Let’s take a look at major insights you can use to win the back-to-school season!

#1 Pull Out Your Best Promotions

Parents will be spending about $510 per child this year. Pull out all the stops to make the most of the season. Use your most effective promotions and incentives on these big spenders. Back-to-school shoppers tend to love the hassle-free convenience of free shipping. It’s also the perfect time for that once-a-year BOGO (Buy One, Get One) that makes your products irresistible to shoppers!  Added Benefit:  having these valuable customers make a purchase will keep your store fresh in their mind for the holiday season!

#2 Don’t Ignore Mobile

More back-to-school shoppers are going mobile. In 2018, 49% of shoppers will use a desktop computer to purchase school goods, down from 57% in 2017. Conversely, the number of mobile shoppers is rising year-over-year, with 53% of shoppers planning to use their mobile phones to make purchases in 2018 vs. only 49% of shoppers in 2017. If you’ve been waiting to gear up for mobile e-commerce, now’s the time to kick your mobile presence into high gear! Don’t forget to increase your mobile bid modifiers in your paid search campaigns and test your mobile landing page experience to make sure the customer can easily find what they are looking for.

#3 Get the Timing Right

Parents spend more than 50% of the entire school-related budget for the whole year within the back-to-school season. Don’t let shoppers who will be spending half their budget within a small window of time slip through your fingers. Build urgency into your offers to make the most of the season. Then plan to take a final run at late shoppers who might have been late to make purchases. Let them know there’s not much time left!

#4 Back-to-School Means It’s Computer Buying Season

Back-to-school used to mean buying new clothes, some pencils and notebooks. For today’s students, heading back-to-school in the fall means having a new computer for their schoolwork. 23% of shoppers with school-aged kids plan to buy a computer or other hardware device. The average spend for these shoppers was $299. That’s great to know for computer manufacturers. It’s also important for sellers of laptop cases, computer backpacks, and all the essential accessories that go along with computers.

#5 Pens, Pencils, Plus So Much More

According to Deloitte, more than $27.6 billion will be spent in 29 Million households on 54 million children in 2018. The biggest categories for these back-to-school shoppers are school supplies, but there are a number of related important items they’ll be buying. They’re also looking for apparel, sporting goods, electronics, books, music, plus other related items. The key here is looking broadly enough at what back-to-school shoppers want and thinking about it from their point of view. Yes, that’s notebooks and pencils. But it’s so much more!

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

USPS Proposes Changes to Liquid Shipping Guidelines

July 31st, 2018 Comments off

Currently, the USPS has specific guidelines for shipping liquids, creams and pastes. In addition to the existing guidelines the USPS has proposed additional requirements that aim to reduce the amount of damage caused by leaking or ruptured liquid containers. The Postal Service anticipates that, if passed, the proposed revision will decrease the amount of time spent on spill response, mail decontamination, and site cleanup, along with providing an improved customer experience. After all, no one wants to receive a package drenched in someone else’s leaking water.

 

Current Guidelines for Shipping Liquids

  • Liquids must be nonhazardous
  • Any item that is the source of an obnoxious odor is nonbailable
  • Containers with friction top containers are not mailable by themselves
  • Glass with more than 4 fluid ounces must be cushioned with a sealed waterproof bag and packed within sealed outer packaging
  • Containers over 32 fluid ounces must be cushioned with a sealed waterproof bag and packed within sealed outer packaging

 

Proposed Changes to Guidelines

The new proposed guidelines would require all liquids in nonmetal containers, regardless of volume, to be triple packed. Packing must include cushioning materials capable of absorbing all liquid, a sealed, waterproof secondary packaging, and a strong, sealed outer mailing container. Additionally, these changes would also apply to metal containers with friction-top closures (push-down tops).

There is currently no timetable for when these guidelines would go into effect if passed. We will continue to keep you updated as news develops.

 

Shipping Liquids with Stamps.com

Stamps.com can even be configured to add order tags based on the products in your orders so you can flag any orders that contain liquids and be sure to package them correctly. In addition to automatic order tags, Stamps.com features domestic address cleansing so you can be sure that your liquids are shipped to a valid address. From automation features to package insurance, Stamps.com offers customers everything they need to ship liquids and more.

Categories: USPS News Tags:

Ecommerce Trends to Watch

July 20th, 2018 Comments off

Ecommerce is experiencing a new wave of innovation. While buying products online is now commonplace, the technology supporting e-commerce is evolving to eliminate any remaining friction in the purchase process. This article will examine some of the most exciting developments in e-commerce and how they are changing the retail experience.

  1. Mobile-First Shopping Takes Hold

The first era of e-commerce took place using desktop computers. The next will take place in the palm of your hand. At the end of 2017 two-thirds of e-commerce transactions were completed on a mobile device. Retailers are responding by partnering with social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to drive sales. Consumers can now enjoy the entire retail experience on a smartphone and innovations such as fingerprint authentication remove even more friction from the purchase process.

  1. The Growing Prevalence of Voice Search

Another innovation that is removing friction from retail is the growth of voice search. Voice search using Alexa, Google Home, or other smart devices allows consumers to make a purchase verbally, sometimes without even seeing the product. Purchases through Amazon or Google can be authenticated using a credit card and shipping address on file. Voice search adds greater convenience for consumers and new challenges for retailers. As one business school professor noted, voice search using Amazon’s Alexa favors the company’s own brands at the expense of competitors. Brands depend on visual marketing to communicate with consumers and as voice search takes off will need to completely rethink their marketing efforts.

  1. Customers Expect Faster Shipping Times

It used to be that goods were shipped in a week and the customer was entirely satisfied. Amazon changed the game when it gave Prime members free expedited shipping. Now ecommerce sellers are racing to offer faster and faster delivery. Ecommerce sellers can simply go to Stamps.com to print shipping labels with the fastest delivery times USPS has available. Online shoppers have become accustomed to quick shipping and easy returns and retailers that refuse to play will lose sales competitors.

In a few years’ time, shoppers will expect to be able to order a product out loud and have it delivered quickly, safely and securely. The next wave of e-commerce eliminates many of the common frictions and pain points in making a purchase. Companies that do not embrace this trend will be left b

Categories: Marketing for Ecommerce, Shipping Tags:

Impact of Bad Addresses on USPS Parcel Delivery

July 13th, 2018 Comments off

In May 2018, there were 23 million packages shipped by the USPS that had issues with address quality on the shipping label. Sometimes this inaccurate info is very minor, such as a missing apartment number and the package can still be delivered on time.  Other times the incorrect address info can be a major problem, causing a long delay in delivery or even require the package to be sent back to the sender.

23,600,524 USPS Packages had missing address info in May 2018

Most online retailers understand the importance of fast delivery. The “Amazon Effect” has created a whole generation of buyers that expect fast (and free) delivery within 2 days of ordering their product.   If there are delays, the customer can become unhappy quickly, which can snowball into negative reviews and the customer never buying from your store again.  Plus, an unhappy customer brings additional labor costs for Customer Support and extra shipping costs for those packages that are sent back.  Removing any obstacles for fast package delivery is a huge benefit for any online seller.

Stamps.com Automatically Verifies All U.S. Addresses

The good news is that Stamps.com can catch these incorrect addresses before your shipping labels are ever printed.  Stamps.com matches all label addresses against the USPS Address Matching System, an up-to-date database that verifies all deliverable mailing addresses in the U.S. This process is completed automatically – whether you are manually inputting an address on the “Packages” tab or automatically importing retail orders using one of our ecommerce integrations.  The system also adjusts addresses to the preferred USPS addressing standards. For example, if you write “Suite 100” in an address, the Stamps.com address cleansing process will abbreviate “Suite” to “STE”, the preferred USPS format. During address cleansing, Stamps.com will also add the proper ZIP + 4 Code to your address.

Avoid delays in package delivery.  Get addresses validated automatically by printing all of your USPS shipping labels with Stamps.com.

 

Source: Mailers Technical Advisory Committee June 2018

Categories: USPS News Tags:

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