Every parcel forwarding company provides a variety of services. From the most common to the unusual ones, we attempt to demystify what they could mean for you.
Parcel Forwarding Companies
The list we have built is divided into three parts:
– Essential Services,
– Good to Have
– Extra Perks
The precise detail for each service vary from one parcel forwarding company to the other.
Every parcel forwarding company gives free warehouse storage (even if it is for a few days only) as part of their service. If there are charges for such a simple thing, and the number of storage days is anything short of a month, look for another company.
Online Account Management
This is another must have feature offered by parcel forwarding companies. You can manage your packages, request consolidation, order pictures and everything else from your account. We suggest signing up with a couple of service providers that meet your criteria and test out their web account management console before sending orders to them.
This service is available in almost all parcel forwarding companies. Instead of sending a plethora of emails to support or opening chat sessions, you can get up to date information on your shipments via their tracking service. And, if for some reason you don’t wish to use their tracking feature for shipments once they have left their facility, then download a parcel tracking app on your smartphone and use that.
Do keep in mind that tracking relies heavily on the shipping carrier responsible for transporting your goods.
Package consolidation can be extremely useful as it allows you to ship multiple items together. For instance, you order three items from Amazon and one from Ebay. Amazon sends your order in 2 shipments, and eBay has its shipment making it a total of 3 parcels. With a consolidation service, the parcel forwarding company will open these three boxes and put them together in one.
With this service, it is necessary to have warehouse storage for 10 – 15 days minimum giving you ample time to receive and consolidate the parcels into one box for shipment. There is usually a fee for this though some forwarders do it for free.
Repacking is when the received items are repacked into another box for shipment. Some services repack automatically while consolidating. However, some may charge a separate fee for it.
Repacking is useful if an order is received in a large box and you want it moved into the smallest possible box to reduce shipping price. So for instance, you have ordered a pair of earphones but Amazon ships it in a box too big for that one item alone and you realize this once the parcel forwarding service sends you pictures of that shipment. This is when you order ‘repackaging’ so the forwarder opens this box and puts your earphones in one which is of the right size.
Some services offer to take pictures of the received items.
This is extremely useful if you wish to know what sort of condition your items arrive in. There is a charge for this service, so do inquire about it and also about how many photos you will get in that quote.
If knowing the condition of your items is important to you, then look for this service when choosing a forwarding company.
Good to Have Services
Personal Shopper Service
If for instance, an online store doesn’t accept your payment method, personal shopper service will fix the situation by shopping on your behalf. by forwarding companies
This is an extremely useful service and requires a full article to explain in great detail the ins and outs of using such services, but essentially the parcel forwarding company charges a certain percentage of fee when they make an online purchase for you.
Remove Catalogues, Price Tags & Invoices
This is self-explanatory. Why pay for the extra weight added by catalogues and invoices? Also for that matter, why would you need price tags when you have the receipt from your online shopping in your email?
Keep in mind, every parcel forwarding company charges for this service. If you want invoices, tags and catalouges removed, pay up.
Vacuum packaging allows you to reduce the volume of your shipment (great for DHL where you are paying for dimensional weight). It is best to vacuum pack plush toys, winter clothes, pillows, and blankets. You can also add expensive valuable and small electronics.
Vacuum packaging also provides 100% protection from moisture.
Return a Purchase
This is usually a chargeable service and allows the warehouse to process a return on your behalf. Especially useful if your bought items are from an online store and the picture did not match your expectation or the item arrived broken, unusable, etc.
Remove an Item From Shipment
What if one of the items you ordered was prohibited? You would want to remove it from a shipment. This service is particularly useful if you need to decrease the weight and/or dimensions of your shipment. This is a chargeable service.
Shipping insurance depends on your chosen shipping service. However, some parcel forwarders go the extra mile and provide coverage up to $100 on all shipments regardless of the shipping method that was selected. For coverage beyond $100, there is a small fee.
Customs Declaration Fee
If you are new to international shipping and want a professional to take care of customs declaration, then why not have the parcel forwarding company do this task for you? For a small fee, many parcel forwarders take care of it.
This is a nice to have feature. The expedited process ensures that your forwarding request will be processed within a few hours (generally under 3) instead of the same day. Very useful if you are located in Asia or anywhere with a 10 hour time difference from your parcel forwarder’s location and cannot wait for the forwarding requests to place on a glacial pace.
Some providers offer gift wrapping service as part of their services. Useful if you won an item from eBay and had it delivered to your free warehouse address and wish to send it to someone as a gift.
Some services offer removal of shoe boxes that reduce dimensional weight at the time of shipping. There may be an additional fee for shoebox removal service. Where some services actively refuse to deal with this; if you are a frequent shoe shopper, then you’ll need this service.
Some forwarders are willing to fold shoeboxes as well so if you want the boxes, then perhaps ask the forwarding company to fold them.
Often, removing shoeboxes comes under repackaging, so be sure to ask the forwarding team.
Not all parcel forwarding companies offer packaging and shipping of dangerous goods such as perfumes, batteries, aerosols and other flammable items. Some provide shipping of these to select countries but keep in mind those who do ship dangerous goods often have an additional fee for doing so.
This is another unique service though it has certain (and very obvious) limitations. If you are in the EU and want tea and biscuits from a neighbouring country, then you will be interested in this service.
Useful when dealing within EU, business service gives you VAT off if you are a VAT registered company/person.
Document scanning is another service that only some parcel forwarding companies provide. Usually charged per scan and applies to only those forwarders who accept to open your mail.
Additional Names on Account
For an extra fee, parcel forwarding companies add another name to the same address or account. This way, two people from the same family can use the address offered.
Make sure you inquire about this service before signing up because, at times, this luxurious perk is given for free.
Most parcel forwarding companies do not accept any postal mail. There are a few exceptions though and wherever this service is available, it comes at an extra cost. We are saying a monthly fee + setup fee.
A security tape on the outside of your package prevents unauthorised people from opening your package. Customs duty office has a right to open/break the seal but once broken, there is no telling who takes out what and when.
Yes, there are charges for having it put in the warehouse.
The Electronic Export Information (EEI) is a mandatory document filed for all international shipments containing contents, from one category (i.e. shoes, phones, clothes, etc.), valued over $2,499 USD. If you are using this service for business purposes or foresee such an event taking place, choose a service that facilitates EEI completion.
When used, this is a chargeable service.
Some parcel forwarding companies allow you to order a custom request. It could be anything short of illegal and impossible and they will provide you with the charges for it.
Delivery Duty Paid
This is one thing that can be very beneficial to those living in countries with corrupt Customs offices.
Short for DDP, this is the amount which the forwarding company will pay for the total cost associated with your shipping amount. It is difficult to put this in place for multiple reasons which is why, most parcel forwarding companies don’t offer it.