How To Become Fluent In Shipping: Understanding Jargon And Shipping Terms

If you’re new to the world of shipping, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the huge array of different shipping terms in popular use. The shipping industry is a complex one, and with so many different domestic and international options on offer, there are quite a few shipping terms that you’ll need to know about.

Learning what’s what in the world of shipping isn’t as tricky as it might first appear, however. It’s just a case of understanding a few key shipping words and phrases and learning what differentiates the many types of shipping and delivery options available.

Don’t be alarmed if you don’t know your expedited delivery from your international shipping, or if the phrase ‘drop shipping’ leaves you a little confused. We’re here to take you through 10 common examples of shipping jargon you might come across, so you can take shipping decisions in your stride. Ready? Let’s begin!

What is Shipping?

The term shipping quite simply means the act of moving something from one place to another. Of course, this process is integral to many of the world’s businesses. Companies all over the planet rely on effective shipping in order to be able to get their products to customers. There are many different types of shipping available, ranging from standard shipping to faster shipping methods. There are also shipping options that offer more detailed tracking information and enhanced security for goods in transit.

What is Standard Shipping?

Standard shipping is a term you’ll likely have come across before, as it’s displayed on the checkout page of almost all online stores. This is the basic option when it comes to shipping. It’s cost effective, although it’s not the fastest type of shipping available. Usually, this option will take between three and five days, and will not require a signature upon delivery.

What is Expedited Shipping and Expedited International Shipping?

The word expedited means ‘to accomplish something more quickly’, so of course expedited shipping is simply a way of shipping goods faster than standard methods. Expedited shipping and expedited international shipping services take between one and three days and tend to come complete with full tracking information for both sender and recipient, throughout.

What is Ground Shipping?

Ground shipping refers to shipments which are sent via land. This shipping method tends to take a little longer than other options, but it’s quite cost effective when compared to speedier shipping services. Usually, items sent via ground shipping will travel in freight shipments via rail. It can take several days to receive goods sent in this way.

What is Domestic Shipping

Domestic shipping options are those which are available in your country. Using domestic shipping limits you to shipping options in your vicinity, and disregards any international shipping methods. It’s most commonly used by small businesses who are just starting out, as calculating international shipping costs can prove time-consuming for fledgeling businesses. In cases like these, businesses tend to opt for domestic sales only, to keep things simple.

What is International Shipping

Unlike domestic shipping, international shipping refers to shipping all over the world. The largest online marketplaces will all offer international shipping options, allowing them to target consumers from any country. The only downside here is the significantly higher cost of shipping internationally when compared with domestic options.

What is Drop Shipping?

Drop shipping is growing in popularity at the moment and is the force behind many of our favourite online marketplaces. It refers to a type of supply chain management, whereby online stores do not stock goods themselves, like a traditional retail store. Instead, they send orders directly to other stores or the original manufacturer, and the products are then sent to the customer directly from there.

What is an HS Code?

The term HS Code isn’t as widely known as some other shipping phrases, but it’s absolutely crucial in terms of international trade. This code is a standardised description of what each shipment contains. It’s a six-digit number, recognisable all over the world, and it’s been in regular use since the Kyoto Convention of 1974. There are currently over 5,000 different HS Codes being used every single day.

What is Freight Shipping?

The term freight shipping refers to the method in which goods are transported. Items sent via freight shipping are transported by land, sea or air, and shipments sent in this way usually travel in trucks, containers on ships, or in railroad cars. There are several different types of freight shipping modes, including full truckload, less than truckload, partial truckload, expedited and intermodal.

What is Table Rate Shipping?

Table rate shipping is part of a plugin made popular by eCommerce platform Woocommerce. It’s a customisable table of rates, created by the user, which allows Woocommerce to easily calculate shipping rates automatically. It’s more complicated than simply using flat rate shipping, however, once it’s set up it saves heaps of time when it comes to shipping calculations.

What is EMS shipping?

EMS refers to the Express Mail Service, which serves customers all over the world. It’s an international postal service, designed to transport merchandise and documents. The company was launched by the Universal Postal Union in 1999, with the specific intention of improving communication between various different global postal services, to make express international delivery faster, and better value.


We hope our quick guide to common shipping terms has helped you to better understand how shipping works, and narrow down the services that best suit your requirements. If you’re still unsure of the most effective and affordable ways to manage your own shipping needs, don’t hesitate to contact our team. We’re on hand to help with any shipping-related queries you may have, just send us a message.