What Is DHL eCommerce?
On this site, we often discuss shipping carriers, but most of the time we focus on UPS, USPS, and FedEx. We don’t frequently mention DHL, an alternative shipping carrier specializing in international shipping. It’s time to stop overlooking what may be an affordable option for your eCommerce shipping.
The company was founded in San Francisco in 1969 by three partners: Adrian Dalsey, Larry Hillblom, and Robert Lynn. The name “DHL” is a compilation of the initials of their last names. Since its founding, the company has grown to employ over 380,000 people and serve over 220 countries and territories.
DHL is now based in Bonn, Germany, with regional offices in the US and Singapore. They offer logistics and fulfillment services for some markets in the Americas, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa.
Along with their regular services, DHL includes a specific set of services for online sellers: DHL eCommerce. Keep reading for a quick breakdown of what DHL eCommerce could offer your business.
Table of Contents
What Is DHL eCommerce?
DHL eCommerce is a shipping option for anyone who needs to ship a high volume of eCommerce products. DHL eCommerce offers domestic and international shipping at affordable prices for high volume shippers. Read on to learn if DHL eCommerce is the right shipping option for your eCommerce needs.
- Great international shipping options
- Package tracking
- Easy to use
- Integrates with popular eCommerce software
- Fulfillment services available
- Unsuited for low-volume shippers
- Not transparent about pricing
How Does DHL eCommerce Work?
Take the best eCommerce platform, add the best products and throw in plenty of shoppers who are interested in buying. What’s missing? A reliable shipping partner to put those products into paying customers’ mailboxes. That’s where DHL eCommerce comes in. With a shipping operation networked across the globe and heavily invested in logistics, DHL eCommerce offers domestic and international delivery, at discount costs.
DHL offers services aimed at high-volume domestic and international shippers. Services include pickup, delivery, and return. And it starts with a portal interface that requires no investment and no integration effort on your part. You’ll have an easy way to pull orders from your online marketplaces, create shipping labels, track your packages, and handle returns as needed. In the United States, DHL eCommerce offers day-defined deliveries across the nation as well as same- and next-day delivery in certain areas. For online businesses with a high volume of sales, there’s also a DHL Fulfillment option that allows you to ship merchandise to a DHL fulfillment warehouse, where it’s stored until a customer orders something and the order is picked and delivered for you. DHL makes deliveries six days a week and promises email or SMS status updates on your shipments.
You can integrate DHL eCommerce with some popular eCommerce platforms, including:
- Starship IT
- Desktop Shipper
Should I Use DHL Shipping?
As DHL is a worldwide shipping service, merchants from many different countries around the world can use DHL eCommerce for domestic and international shipments. However, it is important to note that DHL eCommerce is intended only for high volume shippers. In order to use DHL eCommerce, you must meet the minimum shipping requirement. You’ll be asked to show that you have shipped 100 packages per day for at least three months. That can be domestic or overseas shipments, or a combination of the two.
How Long Does DHL Take To Deliver Products?
DHL delivery times vary depending on the relationship between the origin and the destination. For neighboring countries, delivery times are typically two or three days, but that can stretch up to 20 days for countries that are geographically distant. Once your shipment arrives in its destination country, it likely will be delivered by that country’s local postal service.
DHL offers different levels of delivery service. You can choose — and pay for — next day delivery, two- or three-day service, or ground shipment. Delivery times could vary depending on the size of your package, but you can get a good idea using DHL’s online tool to calculate domestic shipping times. A test from my home office of a fictional package, sent from Oregon to New York, indicated that packages marked for one-, two-, or three-day delivery should arrive on time, and that even using the ground shipment option, a theoretical package could travel from Oregon to New York in just four days.
DHL eCommerce Shipping Services & Tools
DHL eCommerce lets you take advantage of a few valuable shipping tools and services. Here’s what you can expect as an online seller:
Affordable International Shipping Options
- Affordable Cross-Border Shipping With Returns
- Choose Your Service Level & Features
- B2C Customs Clearance
- Start-To-Finish Delivery & Returns
- Network Of Drop-Off & Pick-Up Locations
- Global Fulfillment Network
- B2C & B2B Fulfillment
- Connect To Domestic Delivery Networks
- Cash On Delivery (COD)
- E-Wallet Payment Options
- Multiple Delivery Options
- Six Delivery Days Per Week
- Green Delivery Options
Integrate With Your Other Services
- Integrated Tracking From Start To Finish
- Integration Options Include APIs, Web Portals, Major Marketplaces, eCommerce Platforms
- Email & SMS Tracking Updates
DHL Shipping Rates
DHL eCommerce treats information about their shipping prices as a closely held secret. In order to gain any information about shipping prices, you will need to submit an application to join the program. You’ll be asked to submit basic information about your shipping volume, and then you’ll receive a call or email from an eCommerce service rep. If all goes well, you’ll be invited to submit an application to qualify, and if you pass, you’ll be connected with a rep in your local area. The closest thing to a number I could get — and it’s a long way from an actual number — was being told that because DHL eCommerce is exclusively for high-volume shippers, you can expect the prices to be lower than standard DHL shipping pricing. Your final number, should you qualify, will depend on many variables, such as volume, size of packages, distance shipped, and more.
DHL breaks services into two main categories: International and Domestic. Pricing and logistics vary between these two types of shipping. As you might imagine, international shipping typically comes with more fees than domestic shipping. Take a look below at the services that DHL offers within each category.
DHL International Shipping
In order to figure out the cost of shipping for your packages, you’ll need to get a quote from DHL. Take a look at the table below to see which international services you should consider.
International shipping services also include DHL’s ICart Software, which should make processing online shipping expenses a bit easier.
This software integrates with your shopping cart (via APIs) to make shipping calculations simpler. You’ll be able to provide customers with the full cost of delivery in their own currency, including expenses related to taxes, duties, and shipping costs.
DHL Domestic Shipping
DHL partners with local postal services (like the USPS) to offer domestic shipping services. In the States, USPS handles the final mile and return pickups, and DHL manages the initial pickup and sorting of the packages. Take a look at the tables below to view DHL’s domestic options:
As with DHL’s international shipping options, you’ll need to contact a DHL representative to get a quote for your store’s shipping.
Additional Information & DHL Services
For more information on DHL’s additional fees and surcharges, head over to DHL’s site. You’ll find information on DHL eCommerce tracking, calculating chargeable weight (and understanding that pesky dimensional weight), fuel surcharges, and information on what DHL will and will not ship.
You can also view information on shipment insurance, which is available through U-PIC Insurance Services. You can insure up to $100 USD per package, and additional coverage is available.
Here are a few more services you can take advantage of:
DHL Web Portal To Manage Your Shipments
All DHL customers gain access to DHL’s customer web portal. You can use this web-based admin to manage and monitor a variety of important aspects of your shipping. Here’s a quick list of available features:
- View Shipment Data & Reports
- Print Labels & Create Tracking Numbers
- Batch Upload Feature
- Access To Invoice & Shipment Rates
- Delivery Performance Rates
- Advanced Warning Reports
- Package Delay Reports
- Schedule Pickups & Create Bills Of Lading
- Create & Track Return Labels
DHL Warehousing & Fulfillment Options
Outsourcing your fulfillment has huge benefits for merchants. First and most notably, by letting someone else store your products and pick, pack, and ship your orders, you free up loads of time in your day. What’s more, storing products in multiple warehouses across the country will bring your merchandise closer to your customers, shortening delivery times.
DHL currently has three warehouses in the states.
The Final Verdict On DHL eCommerce
If you often deliver packages internationally and you ship more than 100 items per day, DHL may be the way to go.
However, as you consider DHL, you should keep in mind that both UPS and FedEx also offer start-to-finish international shipping options. Take a look at our comparison of USPS, UPS, and FedEx to learn more.
No matter what, you’ll need to contact DHL to get a quote for your business’s shipping needs. Having a dollar estimate in mind will help you greatly as you continue to compare shipping carriers to choose the one that most closely matches your needs and your budget.