Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Saving on International Postal Costs

tags:  international postage costs, international mail, international postal logistics

According to some international mail marketers, postal costs have increased from 15 - 20% of their total mailing costs to 35 - 50% of the total.  Within the last four years, the cost of fulfillment postage for some U.S.A. publishers has increased by approximately 17%.  As international postage has increased as a proportion of costs, achieving savings in postage can make the difference between profit and loss. 

Earlier this year, I compared the cost of mailings through postal consolidation and remailing companies to the postal operators' over-the-counter rates.  Consolidators and remailers offer a lower cost than the postal operators' over-the-counter rates in all countries where these services are available – and I have had access to costs.  These services normally receive a postal discount from the postal operator and that discount is passed on to the mailer with some fee added for the service provider's assistance. 

Saving from using postal logistics firms (consolidators and remailers) compared to postal operators (the “official” post office) ranged from 23% to more than 70%.  The lowest prices were available from remailers.  The estimates for one particular mailing varied from 71% to 52% of the postal operator's over-the-counter rate for apparently equivalent services.  (The mailer providing these estimates has a sufficient volume of international mail to entice postal logistics companies into providing these estimates.)  Items sent through remailers also took the longest time to reach their final destination, unless shipped directly to the country of final destination. 

Most mailing cost estimates are based on the number of pieces per country and the weight of each piece.  If the pieces vary in weight, the logistics company will likely want to know the distribution of pieces by country for each weight, since postage varies by weight and destination country.  In comparing estimates from various postal logistics companies, the same method is not always used by different companies in their price quotations.  The more common methods from those provided by a number of international mailers are

  per piece + per unit of weight

  flat rate per piece

  flat rate per piece + a handling charge per weight unit

  total cost of the mailing with no break out

Fuel surcharges on each unit of weight can be included in many quotations.  If postage is to be paid in a foreign currency, the exchange rate fluctuations will affect the final charges.  Finally, the cost of getting the items to the logistics company may be included in their estimate or it may be a separate cost to you. 

In addition to estimates, determine the answers to the following questions.

  Is there a minimum charge per country?

  Are there surcharges that do not show on the estimate?

  How might the final charges vary from the estimate?

  What are the charges for returned items, if any?

  Is there anything else we should discuss?