January 23, 2018

What is ePacket?

For those who wish to learn what is ePacket shipping we're going to answer the following questions (click to navigate):

If you still have questions in the end, please comment below and we'll give you an answer.

What ePacket Delivery Means

ePacket is a shipping method designed specifically for merchants in China that sell their products online. This postal service is popular as it's affordable and relatively fast (usually takes about 2 weeks). ePacket provides tracking numbers, so dropshippers and their customers may easily track shipping.
What is ePacket Shipping? - Dropwow dropshipping marketplace
ePacket Shipping on Dropwow marketplace
You may be suspicious how cheaply China-based merchants are selling products for all with postage included. ePacket rates are cheaper than United States Postal Service (USPS) First Class Rate with delivery confirmation.

Please keep in mind that Dropwow marketplace preliminary notifies about final shipping costs, as ePacket delivery costs are already negotiated. You may find shipping costs right on the product pages as it's given in the screenshot. For now, shipping cost is fixed and it's equal to $1.9.
“The cost to ship a one-pound package from South Carolina to New York City would run nearly $6; from Beijing to NYC: $3.66."
— Paul Misener, Amazon's Vice President of Global Policy

How does ePacket Shipping Work

In 2011, the U.S. Postal Service made special agreements with the national postal carriers of China and Hong Kong (and subsequently South Korea and Singapore) to allow tracking-enabled packages not exceeding 36" or weighing over 4.4 pounds to be sent to the U.S. for extremely low rates. They called this shipping option the ePacket, and the rates are so low that it's cheaper to ship small parcels from China to an American city than it is to send that same parcel domestically.*

On the territory of China, a parcel shipped via ePacket is sent by EMS China Post. It's delivered pretty fast for further export. Once it arrives at the destination country, the delivery is fulfilled by a local state-owned postal service as First Class Mail (which is USPS First Class Mail, if we say about the USA). Accordingly, an addressee receives a parcel in the nearest postal store.

In general ePacket shipping cost is cheaper than delivery via EMS China Post and a local postal service. In addition, delivery time is shorter. It takes about 15 days to reach the USA via ePacket.
*Source: Forbes
ePacket Delivery: Pros & Cons
Much cheaper than alternatives
Door-to-door tracking

Shipping time is longer than delivery from local merchants
Tip about shipping from China
State on your dropshipping store that your products are shipped from China. Here is the example how you may tell about it to your customers: "Our products are shipped from our (or affiliate's) warehouse from China". In case you cooperate with merchants around the world another example is "Our products are manufactured and shipped from warehouses all around the world".

If you tell about a country of origin and estimated delivery time before orders are placed, customers will not be disappointed.
ePacket Shipping Restrictions
Weight limits: a package should not be heavier than 4.4 lbs or 2 kg (including boxes and filler material). The only exception is a package to Israel. It can be up to 6.6 lbs or 3 kg.

Maximum package size limit:
  • The longest side of a regular package should not be more than 24" or 60 cm. Additionally, the sum of the length, width and height should not be more than 35" or 90 cm (l + w + h <= 35).
  • The longest side of a rolled-up package should not be more than 35" or 90 cm. Additionally, twice the diameter plus the length should not be more than 41" or 104 cm (2d + l <= 41).

Minimum package size limit:
  • Regular packages should not have a length less than 5.5" or 14 cm and width less than 4" or 11 cm.
  • Rolled-up packages should have a minimum length of 4" or 11 cm. Additionally, twice the diameter plus the length should be more than 7" or 17 cm (2d + l >= 7).

If your packages are smaller than this, you may discuss usage of a larger box and adding filler material with a supplier.

If a package exceeds the limits, ePacket shipping service can't be used.

Price limit: order value should be less than $400.
ePacket Shipping Countries
Currently, there are 38 countries on the list. The list was last updated on May 15, 2018:

  1. Australia
  2. Austria
  3. Belgium
  4. Brazil
  5. Canada
  6. Denmark
  7. Finland
  8. France - packages can be shipped to mainland France with zip codes that start with 01 to 95. However, packages cannot currently be shipped to overseas territories, including Corsica, Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, Reunion, St. Pierre and Miquelon and Mayotte
  9. Germany
  10. Greece
  11. Hong Kong
  12. Hungary
  13. Ireland
  14. Israel
  15. Italy
  16. Japan
  17. Kazakhstan - currently in a trial run
  18. Korea
  19. Luxembourg
  20. Malaysia
  21. Mexico
  22. Netherlands
  23. New Zealand
  24. Norway
  25. Poland
  26. Portugal
  27. Russia
  28. Saudi Arabia
  29. Singapore
  30. Spain - currently undergoing a test run and is not available for all the cities yet
  31. Sweden
  32. Switzerland
  33. Thailand - currently in a trial run
  34. Turkey
  35. Ukraine
  36. United Kingdom - packages can be shipped to the UK mainland as well as the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man
  37. United States - packages can be shipped to all states, territories and military addresses within the United States
  38. Vietnam - currently in a trial run
*Source: China Postal Express & Logistics. If you follow the link, you will get to the main page. The point is that China Postal Express & Logistics does not update the list of countries but post a new one. The last list is dated April 28, 2018 (if you see an error, it means the list is no longer valid).
Not sure what country to target? Discover the best and the worst countries for dropshipping.
ePacket Delivery Time
It usually takes 12-20 business days to reach a destination. Shipping takes 25-60 business days in special cases like holidays, remote locations, etc.
ePacket Tracking Number
ePacket tracking number starts with two letters and ends with "CN". There are 13 characters all totaled. A sample number is LW123456789CN.

If you cooperate with Dropwow, the system displays tracking numbers in your Dropwow account in "Orders" within the next 48 hours after the order has been placed.
What is ePacket Shipping? - Dropwow dropshipping marketplace
ePacket tracking numbers in Dropwow account
ePacket Delivery Tracking
Before shipping arrives at a destination country the following services may be used for tracking ePacket:
After shipping arrives to a destination country you may use an official website of the local state-owned postal service:
What is ePacket Shipping? - Dropwow dropshipping marketplace
Tracking ePacket Delivery on USPS.com
ePacket Shipping Customs
Labels on ePacket packages look like this:
What is ePacket Shipping? - Dropwow dropshipping marketplace
Surely there is information about seller and addressee, there is nothing nonordinary here. I'd like to focus your attention on the part called "Value".

Each international shipping is taxed by customs. It doesn't matter if you use ePacket or any other shipping method. This is a must according to customs regulations. Therefore Chinese suppliers print prices on ePacket labels.

As vendors have to do it but they wish to avoid customs charges at the same time, they put lower prices that depend on the value of items.

Being a dropshipper please be aware of this and expect that your consumers may ask you questions regarding the issue.
Final Thoughts
ePacket service is great for dropshipping business, as it allows to ship lightweight, low-cost merchandise internationally.

Products from China can be shipped very cheaply to U.S. consumers with rates that are unavailable to U.S. merchants. If you dropship through platforms like AliExpress, Dropwow and eBay that use ePacket as a shipping method, you put those who work with the U.S. ecommerce merchants at a competitive disadvantage.
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Product Manager at Dropwow
Victor Ikonnikov
Product Manager at Dropwow