If your customers live in Canada, shipping can get expensive for them when buying from shops based in the US. The average price for shipping to Canada is about $25-$30. Shipping to Canada (or even within Canada) is so expensive is because there aren't too many people, and they live too far apart.
It is easier to batch large shipments and save costs when many customers are close to one another. This allows carriers to offer lower rates nationwide. The population density in Canada is 1/8 of that of the US. As a result, USPS can benefit from massive economies of scale, something Canada Post simply cannot achieve yet.
However, recently, both USPS and Canada Post have been making moves to increase their efficiency for delivery to Canada. There are other creative solutions from smaller companies to help reduce shipping. With this in mind, here are some ways you can ship to Canada at an affordable rate. In some cases, it does not cost your shop any extra fees compared to shipping within the US.
The conventional way
USPS Flat Rate Box is one of the most straightforward options because it's among the cheapest option, with flat rates depending on the box size. E.g. $27.10 for envelopes and small boxes up to 4 lbs, medium and large boxes up to 20 lbs. The delivery time is 6-10 business days which is relatively fast, and you're automatically insured up to $200.
If your items are really small (example here), you can use the flat rate envelope option, also known as First-Class Package International Service which starts at $14.25 and allows you to send packages up to 4 lbs. (64 oz.), valued at up to $400. The USPS offers no tracking information on its service, but you can track packages at UPS, FedEx, DHL, and other carriers.
The Package Forwarding Services
This option is more for the customer end, but it's worth recommending to them if:
- They live near the border, as pick up is free
- If they don't live near the border, they are not in a rush to receive the items.
The way it works is that you would sign up to get a US receiving address. When the parcel has been registered into their system, you will be notified that it is ready for pickup. If you live near the border, the only thing you need to pay is the package receiving fee, which is usually under $4 for each package under 20lbs.
Setting up a Shippsy account is easy as 1-2-3
Some examples of these package forwarding services include:
East coast: Cross Border Pickups
The downside of these services is that if you want them to forward the package to you, you will need to pay for the shipping from one of the courier services, which can get quite expensive (~ US$25 to just under $40 for a package around 2lbs). The cheapest option is to ship using Canada Post but even that is around $25. You must pay for this service before your package leaves the US, so be sure to budget accordingly.
Our advice is that if the customer needs package forwarding, it would be better to offer to send to them directly as it might work out to be cheaper, or consider the next option below.
Using Shippsy to pick up packages in Canada
This is by far the cheapest rate and also one of the fastest of all options.
Shippsy is a new service by Stallion Express, one of Canada's largest couriers. They have recently launched a service where you can ship to Canada using the same shipment method and insurance that you use in the US.
Similar to the In Out Parcel, the customer can create an account to get a US receiving address. The difference is that Shippsy will then deliver to one of their locations in Canada for the customer to either pick up or forward to their home address using Canada Post. Since it's domestic shipping within Canada, the shipping fee is much lower.
Their pricing is quite straightforward:
- CAD$6.99 per package under 50 lbs. or $4.99 per package when consolidated
- It covers brokerage and transportation (to Canada) and complimentary storage for up to 30 days.
The shipping process is as follows: Processing time is 1-2 business days to process the item in the US and another 1-2 days to arrive in Canada, which is superfast compared to the international shipping options above.
If your shop has been unable to offer cheap shipping to Canada, this is definitely an option you should consider recommending to your customers. It takes no change on your part and offers a huge benefit to your customers. Most importantly, it opens your shop to a whole new audience in Canada since shipping has always been one of the biggest frictions when buying from the US.
I have put together a page that goes over shipping with Shippsy and some additional information customers should know such as taxes and customs fees so that you can easily link to your website or product listings. Instead of having to write about it, you can simply say “To our Canadian customers: You can consider this option when shopping with us as you can pick up your package locally or have it delivered to you at domestic Canada rate”