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International Shipping: What are Customs, Duties and Taxes?

October 17th, 2014 Comments off

blog_globeIf you are selling products online and you are not yet selling to international markets, you are missing out on an easy opportunity to grow sales. eMarketer estimates that global e-commerce sales will reach $1.5 trillion in 2014! And they expect the international sales to grow at least 15% EACH YEAR through 2017.

International buyers want U.S. products and buying directly from the source is usually much cheaper than buying from a retailer in their own country. 68% of ALL E-COMMERCE SALES in 2014 will occur outside of the U.S.!

And while many sellers think selling to international markets is hard due to Customs Forms, language barriers and longer shipping delivery periods, sellers are usually surprised to see how easy shipping overseas is.

Check out the recently published articles on how to get started:

In this week’s article, we discuss some other important topics to be aware of when selling to international markets.

blog_customs-clearance Customs Fees:
Customs Fees are a cost that the host country charges to manage the flow of goods in and out of the country. All products go through Customs before going to the buyer, and there is a fee associated to manage this process. For e-commerce sales, the BUYER typically is aware of this fee and is the responsible party for paying the fee.
blog_tariff_big Duties/Tariffs:
Similar to Customs Fees, Duties/Tariffs are a type of tax placed on value of item, plus freight and insurance by country. Duties/Tariffs are designed to protect local businesses and industries in the host country. While there are some exceptions, the BUYER is the responsible party to pay the Duties/Customs fees.
blog_taxes-due_big Taxes:
Taxes are not charged by every country, and they can vary based on the value of the product. This is an additional fee that a local government such as state, province or city, charges for delivering the package into their region. Similar to Customs Fees and Duties/Tariffs, the BUYER typically pays the fee.
blog_us-census-bureau International Transaction Number (ITN):
The ITN is a requirement from the U.S. Postal Service if the product you are shipping is over $2,500 in value. You can get the ITN number for your product at the US Census site. In order to get the ITN, you must first file a document using the Electronic Export Information (EEI) form. Once the EEI form is processed and approved, you will receive your ITN which should be included with your shipping documents.
blog_harmonized-codes_big Harmonized Codes:
Harmonized codes are another important issue. These are a standardized set of numbers developed by the World Customs Organization to process customs quicker. They are built for commercial shippers that send a lot of the same product. HS codes can speed up the customs processing time, so it’s a good idea to use them. Get more info on Harmonized Codes.

Happy Customer Service Week!

October 8th, 2014 Comments off

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Every year Stamps.com is thrilled to participate in National Customer Service Week, an annual week-long celebration where we honor our Customer Care agents for all their hard work throughout the year. Our dedicated customer care agents represent the voice of Stamps.com to our customer. They represent our company and our products. It’s a lot of responsibility but they are more than up to the task.

This year, our Customer Service Week will last 8 days to coincide with our new “Great 8 Customer Care Core Values”, a list of values that guide our customer care representatives every day.

#1 Be Passionate:  Our Customer Care agents are excited about our company and our products. That enthusiasm should be conveyed to our customers on every call!

#2 Be of Service:  We’re here to help inform and service our customers, making their use of Stamps.com as easy as possible.

#3 Be Resolutionary:  In order to help, we must solve issues and challenges that our customers bring to us each day.  We don’t allow service calls to go unanswered – our goal is to make sure all customer’s concerns are resolved to their satisfaction.

#4 Cultivate Great Relationships:  We love customer feedback!  Your suggestions help make Stamps.com the best mailing and shipping software in the market.

#5 Listen Generously:  We understand the art of active listening – when our customers talk, we listen!  It’s impossible to solve a customer’s issue unless we have listened attentively.

#6 Evolve:  Our customer care agents are always learning and growing, and that includes how we help our customers.  We accept customer suggestions and move to implement features as soon as possible.

#7 Celebrate: We all support each other and celebrate our accomplishments individually and as a team

#8 Have Fun:  You need to have fun at work to really enjoy it, and our Customer Care agents have fun and share that joy with our fellow team members and most importantly, with our customers.

We try our best to live and work by these values and our customers seem to really appreciate it. Take a look at some of the kind words our customers have shared about our team.

“Stamps.com has great customer service! Best way to retain customers is to fix problems quickly when things go wrong! :-)” Leighann on Facebook

“Hands down, Stamps.com has some of the best customer service I’ve ever (heard)” Menachem on Facebook

“@StampsCom Your excellent phone customer service just saved me like $300. THANK YOU”   Glenn, Meg and Dan on Twitter

“@StampsCom has some great customer service. #ThankYouThursday” Giselle on Twitter

“WOW!  Customer service is not a thing of the past with Stamps.com.  I was amazed and impressed with the support staff.  I called with many questions and my agent was patient, caring, helpful and made sure I was comfortable with each question I had.  If I have any questions or issues I WILL NOT hesitate to call customer service.  Thank you for being there! “  Nancy on Yelp

These are just a few of hundreds of amazing comments we receive from our customers every month. We’d like to thank our customers for taking the time to share these comments. It means a lot to us and to our Customer Care team.

Happy Customer Care week to our team! We are so grateful to have you!

How to Fill Out a USPS Customs Form

October 1st, 2014 Comments off

Expanding your e-commerce sales into international markets is a great way to grow revenue.  And when shipping to international destinations, you must declare the contents of your package on a Customs Form so the destination country can inspect the product and determine if a duty or tax is required.

While some people think the process of completing a Custom Form is complicated, it really is a very simple process. And Stamps.com has made the process easy by AUTOMATICALLY filling out most of the required fields in the custom form!

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There are four main section on a U.S. Postal Service Customs Form that require attention (example above is CN 22/PS Form 2976, commonly referred to as “1 page form”):

#1 Merchandise Info:  This is the area that you state the product description and value. If you use Stamps.com, the data can be automatically imported from your data source such eBay, Amazon.com, Etsy or your Shopping Cart.

#2 Address Info: This is the “from” address stating where the package is coming from, and the “to” or delivery address for where the package is traveling to.  Stamps.com automatically imports this info from the original data source (eBay, Carts, etc.) into the Customs Form

#3 Signature and Date: The USPS requires all international shippers to sign and date the Customs Form.  But with Stamps.com, you are a known shipper” and no signature is required.  Stamps.com automatically includes your name and date on form.

#4 Electronic Round Stamp: The USPS requires all Customs Forms to be stamped at the Post Office, providing an official “proof of mailing.”  But Stamps.com automatically prints an “electronic round stamp” on the Customs Form.  This allows you to

The USPS has three separate Customs Forms to use, depending on the type of mail class used, the value of the product and the destination country.  Generally speaking, all the three forms contain similar info.  It comes down to the number of copies that are included on the package.

Get more info on USPS Customs Forms.

Free! Ultimate Guide to Sept 2014 Priority Mail Rate Changes

September 7th, 2014 Comments off

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Need more info about the Priority Mail rate changes that are starting on Sunday, September 7, 2014?

Stamps.com has released a Complete Guide to the September 2014 USPS Priority Mail Rate Changes. The FREE downloadable PDF includes:

  • New rates by weight and zone for postage purchased at the Post Office (Retail Rates)
  • New rates by weight and zone for Commercial Base (Online Postage) pricing
  • New rates by weight and zone for Commercial Plus pricing
  • Includes Priority Mail, Priority Mail Flat Rate and Regional Rates

DOWNLOAD THE FREE GUIDE NOW!

USPS Lowers Priority Mail Rates – Starts Sunday, September 7

September 4th, 2014 Comments off

Free Download! The Ultimate Guide to the September 2014 Priority Mail Rate Change. Download this PDF file now.

blog_pm-rate-decrease-sep7

On Sunday, September 7, 2014, the U.S. Postal Service will adjust shipping rates for Priority Mail.  This rate adjustment will both increase and decrease “Retail Rates” at the Post Office, but will only DECREASE rates for postage purchased online via Stamps.com (Commercial Base and Commercial Plus pricing).

For regular Priority Mail purchased online (weight and zone based pricing) , the decrease in rates is focused on package weights over 5 lbs. and traveling to Zones 1 through 5.

The table below shows the NEW September 2014 prices (along with the savings compared to the January 2014 prices listed in red) by package weight and shipping zone.

 

For Priority Mail Flat Rate products (envelopes and boxes), there is no rate adjustment.   Get all the info on the USPS Postage Rate adjustments.

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