Earlier this year ePacket shipments from China to the US were so severely delayed many were taking two months to arrive, but the crisis is over now and new e-commerce opportunities may be too big to pass up
If you ordered anything from Aliexpress back between March and July this year then you probably ended up waiting at least a month for it to arrive.
Gone, we thought, were the days of ‘allow 6–8 weeks for shipping’, even when that shipping was from China, due to the use of ePacket. ePacket may have never been rapid, but it was reasonable to expect it to arrive in a week or two. Yet, when the recent lockdowns started confusion and terrible shippings times became a reality both for customers and e-commerce store owners alike.
If you were a direct customer this was a mere annoyance, but if you were running a drop-shipping e-commerce business via Aliexpress then it was a potential catastrophe. The businesses I worked with saw refunds and chargebacks go through the roof, inboxes flooded with complaints and questions and their chances of repeat customers or a good review going up in smoke (all of it, honestly, quite understandable).
It was a bad time for drop-shippers indeed. But it wasn’t only them — all shipping from China was disrupted severely. Premium services like DHL and FedEx were even experiencing delays. Bulk shipments were moving slowly. The only shipping method largely unaffected was sea freight, which usually takes 40–50 days anyway.
I heard that at one point there was a backlog at DHL in Hong Kong of over a week — that’s more than a week before packages could even be processed let alone loaded onto a plane bound for the USA.
Is ePacket faster now?
The good news is that since July delivery times have dropped significantly, and many suppliers from China have found faster shipping methods at comparable prices, the most effective of which seems to be ‘Aliexpress Standard Shipping’.
From high points of as much as two months, ePacket and Aliexpress Standard are now down to 2–3 weeks again, in some cases even faster. Moreover, premium shipping services like DHL, UPS and FedEx are back to normal.
What does this mean for e-commerce?
It’s good news for anyone running an e-commerce business that relies on shipping to the USA from China. While the average speed is not quite what it was at this time last year for services like ePacket (some sites I worked with were getting small packets to the US in as little as 6–8 days in 2019), you can now rely again on cheap shipping from China to the US. Lately most shipments from China arrive in about two weeks, three at most.
Already some sites I worked with that closed in May because of shipping delays are back open and doing well again.
Then there’s the option of going beyond drop-shipping from China — either by buying in bulk and shipping yourself (or using a fulfilment service) or finding US-based drop-shippers instead.
While both these options are expensive, for example, the US-based supplier directory Worldwide Brands costs $299 just for access, for an already successful business they are options worth considering.
Either way, this is a great time to expand if you’re in e-commerce — online shopping has never been more popular with many brick-and-mortar stores closed and some travel still restricted.
The ePacket shipping crisis is now safely over and the opportunities in e-commerce at the moment are too big to let pass by. Now is the time to take action.