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1. Understanding the importance of fast international shipping

Top four fast international shipping companies and methods for online businesses

In the dynamic and rapidly evolving world of ecommerce, providing fast international shipping has become a non-negotiable aspect of a successful online business. With customers spread across the globe, the ability to deliver products quickly and efficiently is a critical competitive advantage. However, the diverse range of shipping methods available can be overwhelming. 

This article examines the top international shipping companies, each with their unique features, benefits, and considerations. Understanding these can help ecommerce businesses select the right shipping partner to meet their operational needs and customer expectations.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • Fast international shipping plays a pivotal role in the success of an ecommerce business by directly impacting customer satisfaction, conversion rates, and brand reputation.

  • With the global marketplace's expansion, offering fast domestic and international shipping can give online businesses a competitive edge.

  • Fast international shipping methods include Express Air Freight, Standard Air Freight, Ocean Freight, International courier services, Rail Freight, and Multimodal Transport.

  • The top four international courier services include DHL Parcel International Direct, FedEx International Economy, UPS Worldwide Express, and USPS International Shipping, each catering to different shipping needs and preferences worldwide.

  • Choosing the right shipping provider is crucial for a successful international shipping strategy. Factors to consider include reliability, global reach, cost-effectiveness, and tracking and communication systems.

  • Implementation of fast shipping in an ecommerce business involves seamless integration with the ecommerce platform, clear shipping policy communication, and maintaining transparency with customers.

  • Gelato's approach of printing products closer to the delivery location helps reduce shipping times, supports local businesses, reduces carbon emissions, and improves customer satisfaction.

Understanding the importance of fast international shipping

Eager customer receiving package

Shipping plays a significant role in the success of an ecommerce business. It not only affects customer satisfaction but also impacts your brand's reputation. Fast and reliable shipping has now become a standard expectation for online shoppers. When customers receive their orders promptly, it enhances their overall experience and builds trust in your brand.

Moreover, it has a direct impact on conversion rates. Customers are more likely to complete a purchase if they know they will receive their items quickly. When they have to wait longer for delivery, they may abandon their shopping cart in favor of a competitor offering faster shipping options.

Why speed matters in international shipping

Customers who order products from other countries often have specific needs, such as gifts for special occasions or urgent supplies. Delayed shipping can cause frustration and disappointment, resulting in negative reviews and potential loss of future business.

Fast international shipping not only meets customers' expectations but also exceeds them. It showcases your commitment to providing a seamless shopping experience, regardless of geographical boundaries. Delivering products quickly and efficiently enhances customer satisfaction and increases the likelihood of repeat purchases.

Furthermore, fast shipping opens up new market opportunities and gives more international shipping options. When you can deliver products quickly to customers worldwide, you can expand your target audience and tap into new markets. This can lead to increased sales and revenue for your ecommerce business.

Six methods of fast international shipping

Air, ocean, and rail freight

Shipping goods internationally has become increasingly streamlined, thanks to improved logistics and transport technologies. There are several fast methods for international parcel delivery services, which can vary based on the size of the package, destination, budget, and desired delivery speed. Here are some commonly used methods:

1. Express air freight

Express air freight is one of the fastest methods of shipping internationally. International express shipping companies can deliver packages within one to three days to most locations worldwide. This is typically the most expensive shipping method, but it is ideal for time-sensitive shipments.

2. Standard air freight

Standard air freight is slightly slower than express air freight but is also less expensive. Delivery times can range from three to five days, depending on the destination and customs processes. Many freight forwarding companies offer this service.

3. Ocean freight

Ocean freight is less expensive than air freight but also slower. It can be a viable option for larger shipments that aren't as time-sensitive. Even though it's slower, some premium services can expedite the process to make it faster than regular ocean freight, typically taking one to two weeks.

4. Courier services

International courier services such as DHL, FedEx, UPS, and others offer door-to-door delivery services. They manage the entire process, including customs and paperwork, which can expedite the shipping process. Delivery times depend on the service level chosen, with express options often delivering within one to three days.

5. Rail freight

In some regions, like Europe and Asia, rail freight can be a faster option for international shipping than ocean freight. It's especially useful for landlocked countries where sea shipping isn't an option.

6. Multimodal transport

This method uses a combination of shipping modes (like sea, air, and land) to deliver goods quickly. For instance, goods may be transported by truck to a port, shipped overseas by sea freight, and transported by truck or rail to the final destination. This can often speed up the process compared to using a single mode of transport.

Four best international shipping services

Courier van delivering packages

Let's explore the top four international courier services for 2024, those that have consistently proven to reliably deliver parcels safely and expediently worldwide. Each has its distinct strengths, costs, and unique offerings.

1. DHL Parcel International Direct

This DHL service is designed for straightforward, direct shipping overseas. It's ideal for businesses that require a reliable and efficient method to send parcels to overseas customers.

DHL Parcel International Direct offers comprehensive services that cover over 220 countries, making it a perfect choice for businesses serving international customers. Known for its fast and secure delivery, perks such as package insurance and shipment for bulky items are also available.

Shipping heavier items won't be a problem with DHL because they accept parcels up to 30 kilograms. Nonetheless, these packages could be subject to higher costs. Remember that certain countries may also have rules that could affect your package's size and weight. 

With DHL, you have plenty of shipping choices that cater to diverse business needs. Costs might vary depending on factors like package size, destination, and shipping method. However, generally, economy shipping is the cheapest, express is the fastest, and standard offers a decent balance between speed and cost. The specifics will depend on your unique needs.

2. FedEx International Economy

FedEx offers this cost-effective solution for less time-sensitive international shipments. While it's a slower service than their express options, it provides excellent value for businesses seeking an economical international shipping solution.

FedEx International Economy is a standout choice in the shipping world due to its affordability and wide reach. The service is cost-effective, making it a great pick for businesses that aren't in a rush. However, it may not be the best choice for those needing fast deliveries. This service offers a range of package options and special handling for delicate shipments. With services in over 220 countries and territories, FedEx proves to be accessible worldwide. 

FedEx follows particular weight and size rules based on the destination. Regular shipments must remain under 150 lbs (68 kg) and no longer than 108 inches (274 cm). Businesses working with larger shipments can avail of additional services. Always check out the regulations for your target destination before committing to FedEx International Economy. 

FedEx provides both express shipping for urgent needs and economy service, offering flexibility to match your delivery speed and budget. Prices can vary based on the shipment's specifics, such as size, weight, and end-point. Yet, FedEx International Economy typically offers cheaper rates. For accurate pricing, businesses should check FedEx's detailed rates or use their online calculator.

3. UPS Worldwide Express

This service from UPS focuses on time-definite deliveries around the globe. It's a great choice if you have urgent packages that must be delivered promptly and reliably, regardless of the destination.

UPS stands out for its coverage across 200+ countries, quick and dependable delivery, and careful handling of packages. Special services for sensitive or time-sensitive parcels are also a plus. On the downside, it's essential to note that their pricing, though competitive, might be high for small ecommerce businesses or when sending heavy packages. 

Furthermore, UPS sets guidelines on package size and weight to ensure service efficiency and safety. Businesses must be aware of these to decide if UPS is the right fit for them. While UPS Worldwide Express can manage larger and heavier orders, this service may involve higher expenses. Moreover, UPS offers a range of shipping services, from economy to standard and express, based on various needs and budgets.  

As for expenses, UPS, like other providers, determines prices based on package size, weight, and destination. These factors may vary extensively, so it's suggested to get specific quotes for exact costs. Lastly, UPS’s broad international reach ensures reliable deliveries worldwide. They also provide real-time tracking updates, a feature that builds customer trust and makes the shipping process easier for ecommerce businesses.

4. USPS International Shipping

The United States Postal Service also offers international shipping services. While they may not be as fast as some premium services from other carriers, they often provide a cost-effective solution for smaller or less urgent packages.

USPS is a good choice for cost-effective international shipping, especially for smaller, less urgent packages. While it excels in domestic deliveries, USPS may not be as fast or have as wide a global reach as other couriers like DHL or UPS. Additionally, its tracking features may not be comprehensive for International Standard services. 

In terms of package size and weight limits, USPS accepts international shipments up to 70 lbs. The service offers different box sizes, ranging from small flat-rate boxes to large prepaid envelopes. They provide various shipping services like USPS Priority Mail International, USPS First-Class Package International Service, and USPS Priority Mail Express International. However, these services may not be as wide-ranging or industry-specific as those offered by UPS or FedEx.

USPS is impressive in domestic coverage, though it might fall short in worldwide reach compared to other couriers. It's also important to note some customers have reported issues with delivery time consistency and tracking.

However, the shipping cost is often reasonable, particularly for smaller parcels and envelopes. Businesses should always opt for specific quotes for an accurate cost comparison. A particular advantage of USPS is the provision of unique mail services for the military and diplomatic sectors.

Each of these international shipping carriers caters to different needs and budgets, and the best choice for you will depend on factors like your desired delivery speed, package size and weight, destination, and budget.

Evaluating shipping providers for your online business

Comparing shipping options

When it comes to fast international shipping, choosing the right shipping provider is vital. A reliable service and efficient shipping partner can significantly impact your online business, ensuring that your products reach customers in a timely manner. Here are some key factors to consider when evaluating potential international or even domestic shipping partners:

Key factors to consider:


Look for shipping providers with a proven track record of on-time deliveries and minimal shipping errors. A reliable shipping partner will help you build customer trust and avoid potential setbacks or disappointments.

Global reach

Ensure the shipping provider has a vast network of delivery destinations, especially if you have a global customer base. Having a shipping partner with an extensive reach will enable you to expand your business internationally and cater to customers from different parts of the world.


Compare the cheapest international shipping rates and fees across multiple providers to find the most cost-effective option for your business. While it's essential to consider the price, remember that the cheapest option may not always be the best. Evaluate each shipping provider's overall value, including reliability, speed, and additional services.

Tracking and communication

Opt for a shipping provider that offers robust tracking and communication systems, allowing you and your customers to monitor the progress of shipments. Real-time tracking updates, business day delivery, and clear communication channels will help you provide excellent customer service and promptly address any concerns or inquiries related to international shipments.

Implementing fast shipping in your online business with Gelato

Gelato, the fastest and most reliable print on demand platform, revolutionizes ecommerce growth by offering a sustainable solution for delivering customized products. Our streamlined, programmable, and borderless approach simplifies custom production and delivery, making it an excellent partner for creators, startups, and large enterprises.

Gelato is a global print on demand platform offering the following benefits through fast order fulfillment:

  • Improved shopping experience: Fast shipping times can greatly improve the customer's overall experience, as they don't have to wait long to receive their orders.

  • Increased trust and loyalty: Customers are likely to trust and stay loyal to a company that can deliver their products quickly.

  • Repeat business: If customers have a positive experience with the shipping process, they're more likely to make additional purchases.

  • Boosts word-of-mouth and positive reviews: Satisfied customers will likely leave positive reviews and recommend the service to others.

  • Competitive advantage: In the crowded ecommerce space, fast shipping can provide a significant competitive advantage.

Shipping internationally with Gelato

Are you a creator or ecommerce seller looking to take your business global? Gelato, the world's largest network for on-demand production, is the solution you've been seeking! You can scale your business, reduce waste, and reach customers faster with Gelato's on-demand production and fast international shipping!

Gelato is a worldwide digital printing platform providing print on demand services in 34 countries. Our global alliance of print partners facilitates localized production of various products, including t-shirts, mugs, phone cases, and wall art. This proximity-focused approach empowers ecommerce businesses to manufacture their products nearer to their customers, significantly reducing shipping costs and time.

But it's not just about reaching a wider audience; it's about doing it responsibly. Gelato reduces waste, cuts costs, and minimizes carbon emissions, demonstrating that profitability and sustainability can go hand-in-hand. With Gelato, you're expanding your business and contributing to a greener planet. Experience the game-changing power of local, on-demand production.

Ready to ship internationally faster, scale smarter, and make an impact? Sign up for Gelato today.

International shipping methods FAQs

What are the six fast international shipping methods for online businesses?

The six fast international shipping methods typically include Express courier services (like DHL, FedEx, and UPS), Air freight, Sea freight, Rail freight, Postal services, and Consolidated shipping services. These methods can vary in terms of speed, cost, and reliability.

How fast can I expect my goods to be delivered using express courier services?

Express courier services can deliver packages internationally within one to three business days, depending on the origin and destination.

What factors should I consider when choosing a shipping method for my online business?

Factors to consider when choosing a shipping method for your online business include the size and weight of the items you are shipping, the destination country, the speed of delivery required, the cost of shipping, the reliability of the shipping provider, and the tracking services offered.

Can I track my shipment when using fast international shipping methods?

Yes, most fast international shipping methods offer tracking services. This allows both you and your customers to monitor the shipment's progress and estimated delivery time. The level of detail in tracking information can vary between service providers.

How do I decide whether to use air freight or sea freight for my international shipments?

The choice between air freight and sea freight largely depends on your specific needs. Air freight is faster, but it's typically more expensive and has stricter size and weight limitations. Sea freight is slower, but it's usually more cost-effective for larger and heavier shipments, especially for long distances. You also need to consider factors like the value of your goods, their perishability, and the demand for speed in delivery.

Are there any specific regulations or documentation I need to be aware of when using fast international shipping methods for my online business?

Yes, international shipping involves various customs regulations and documentation that you need to adhere to, such as commercial invoices, export packing lists, and possibly other documents based on the type of goods and the specific import/export laws of the involved countries. Failing to comply with these requirements may result in delays, fines, or seizures of goods. It's recommended to work with experienced freight forwarders, shipping agents, or customs brokers who understand international shipping regulations to ensure the smooth transit of your goods.


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