USPS ePacket – love it or hate it ?
By Tony Lam
ePacket Service is a trilateral agreement between US Postal Service, eBay China and Hong Kong Post office to offer China and Hong Kong eBay sellers a fast but low cost shipping option. This service offers local pick-up service, label printing, online tracking and pre-customs declaration for a 7 to 10-day guaranteed delivery period at a 30 to 50% discounted price compared with many equivalent.
Using this service, China sellers can now ship small packages weighing up to 2 KG with co-branded shipping labels marked with China/HK post and USPS. Upon arrival in United States, these packages received USPS First Class Mail service with delivery confirmation service. To let you have a clear picture of this special post office shipping rates, I searched for a long time and finally find the latest price information in a Hong Kong Post Office Webpage. To view the English version, you can open the webpage with Google Chrome and translate it to English. Below is the comparison of ePacket rate with domestic post office shipping rates.
In the table, you can see that ePacket provides better shipping rates for light weight packages from 1oz to 4 oz and 1 lb when comparing with USPS domestic shipping rate. With ePacket, China sellers can offer incredible low selling price at eBay; for example, an iphone case is selling at US$1.99 with free shipping, a guitar strings set of 6 at $1.51 with free shipping. Regarding to this low cost shipping option, buyers and sellers on eBay have different reactions and raised a lot of discussions.
US Buyers and China/ Hong Kong Sellers
US buyers and China sellers are the direct beneficion of ePacket shipping service. Because of ePacket, US Buyers buy more items at very low prices. China and Hong Kong sellers really love ePacket since they can sell light weight items directly from manufacturing sites in China with tracking information and delivery confirmation notifications. According to a EcommerceBuytes article, in 2011, nearly 40% of China eBay sellers are using the ePacket Service to U.S. with over 80% of items delivered in 5 to 10 days.
In almost all discussion forums, you can find a lot of frustrations among US sellers about ePacket. Many US sellers are angry at USPS/eBay and question why they are not offered the same shipping option as the China sellers. Many complain about eBay’s giving China sellers a competitive advantage. As a US seller, I share the feeling of unfairness . I wrote a letter to President Obama and requested him to initiate a talk with US Post office to about offering ePacket service to US sellers too. Seeing my sales continue to drop, I am obliged to rethink my selling strategies. In the process, I learn to accept the reality. In the competitive global ecommerce world, only the species that adapt to changes survive. The ones who embrace difficulties and ride on them will become stronger and stronger. To react the keen competition from items shipping from China/Hong Kong with ePacket, I come up with some directions that I’m going to focus. How about you ? I am looking forward to your comment and ideas.
- Use private labels to differentiate your products with high quality and fancy design
- Offer excellent customer service with and fast and helpful reply
- Focus on marketing the eBay listings for domestic fast delivery time within 3 days
- Explore the market of vintage products or used items
If you are a US seller, I encourage you to adapt to the changes rather than walk away. Think of new objectives and test them out with baby steps and either keep them or dump them and move to the next one. In the long run, you will not only survive but also become stronger and stronger. That’s the idea behind Charles Darwin’s theory of “survival of the fittest”.
Where there’s a will, there is a way. Here is a good news to US Sellers. ePacket is available at certain International Service Centers in US for internet retailers shipping to 14 countries via Postal Qualified Wholesaler (PQW). Details please check the following post.
First USPS Postal Qualified Wholesaler to Offer ePacket for Internet Retailers Shipping Lightweight Low-Value Parcels
More Reading from other sources.
U. S. Postal Service Initiates ePacket Service with Hong Kong Post
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USPS Deal with eBay Helps Expedite Chinese Imports
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USPS Smooths Way for eBay China Imports
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USPS Gives eBay China Sellers Competitive Advantage
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