dhl express and dhl ecommerce - blog header

Understanding DHL eCommerce + DHL Express


Written by David Renwick

Last updated: February 2023

What’s the difference between DHL Express and DHL eCommerce? Not sure? Don’t worry – that’s what we’re here to answer.

DHL is a household name – and it has been ever since it was founded back in 1969. Now, decades later, the DHL is still one of the world’s largest couriers, delivering a staggering number of parcels every year. They also haven’t lost a step with the growth of eCommerce. Now, DHL offers a variety of services specifically aimed at eCommerce businesses.

But things can get complicated when it comes to picking your shipping providers – especially when providers like DHL have multiple options. That’s why we’ve written this article. We’re going to cover what DHL is and exactly what you need to know about DHL Express and DHL eCommerce.

DHL deliver over 1.6 billion packages

What is DHL?

DHL is a global shipping giant founded in 1969, with multiple subsidiaries which ship to every corner of the globe.

Here are some key facts about the shipping giant:

  • Delivers over 1.6 billion packages every year.
  • Employs over 400,000 people.
  • Delivers packages to over 220 countries and territories.
  • Headquarters in Bonn, Germany.

A guide to DHL eCommerce and DHL Express

Finding the right shipping provider is always tricky, especially when one company offers multiple sub-brands and services. Let’s look at the differences between DHL eCommerce and DHL Express, and some of the services they offer.

What is DHL eCommerce?

DHL eCommerce is a courier service focused on international shipping services. It’s not as well-suited to deliveries where speed is a requirement. It’s best for shipping lightweight packages where speed isn’t a concern.

Which services are available with DHL eCommerce?

  • DHL Packet International (Economical, low weight shipping)
  • DHL Packet Plus International (Economical, low weight shipping plus milestone tracking events)
  • DHL Parcel International Standard (Shipping up to 20 kg)
  • DHL Parcel International Direct (Direct shipping up to 20 kg to high demand markets)
dhl express logo

What is DHL Express?

DHL Express is a courier service with domestic and international shipping services. DHL Express is aimed at customers who prioritise speed, as it offers a range of speedier delivery options, including same-day. It’s best for shipping time-critical packages and shipping packages internationally.

Which services are available with DHL Express?


  • Urgent, Time-Sensitive (Next Possible Business Day)
  • Same Day (Emergency, Quickest Possible)


  • Urgent, Time-Sensitive (Next Possible Business Day)
  • Less Urgent (1-3 Business Days)
  • Same Day (Emergency, Quickest Possible)


  • Urgent, Time-Sensitive (Next Possible Business Day)
  • Same Day (Emergency, Quickest Possible)

Business solutions

  • Express Breakbulk (Consolidated Clearance)
  • Medical Express (Temperature Sensitive)
  • DHL Globalmail (Sorting and Franking)
Courier checking parcels at the back of delivery truck

What’s the best option for you?

There’s no one right answer when it comes to selecting a courier – both DHL Express and DHL eCommerce are great options to add to your list of couriers.

The best approach is to maintain a network of couriers. Whenever you’re evaluating your courier mix, make sure you’ve got a good spread of options based on time, price and ability to handle your different package types (dangerous goods, for example).

Using a courier management system

Given that you need to offer different shipping options to your customers, you’re probably thinking through the logistics of managing multiple couriers – especially the manual task of going in and out of different courier systems.

Add the process of providing tracking options, returns and customs documentation and you’ve got a recipe for order delays and stressed staff.

This is where courier management software comes into play. It's helpful to think of this software as a superpowered platform that connects your online store (like Shopify) to the different couriers you’ll need. Oh, and a whole lot of other useful functionality.

Next, we'll learn about some of the main shipping challenges our courier management system (Starshipit) can handle.

What challenges can a courier management system resolve?

Managing multiple eCommerce and courier platforms
Manual processes
Managing returns
International shipping

How does a courier management system work with DHL eCommerce and DHL Express?

We’ve already explored the benefits of introducing a courier management system into your retail business. But how do these systems work with DHL eCommerce and DHL Express? Quite easily!

With Starshipit, for example, you can simply integrate the shipping platform into your existing workflow:

  • Create a Starshipit account (there’s also a 30-day free trial).
  • Bring your existing courier account numbers and product codes into Starshipit, using our ready-to-go integrations with DHL eCommerce and DHL Express.
  • Using our integrations or dynamic API, integrate your eCommerce store or inventory management system.
  • Start processing orders and let Starshipit automate the tedious tasks of shipping.

Note: DHL Express is best suited if you need to ship to any country, domestically or internationally, whereas DHL eCommerce is best for international shipments from Australia.

Finding options that work for you

We’ve talked a lot about DHL in this article, but that’s not to say they’re the only option for your retail business.

In fact, given just how important it is to give your customers choice, you should aim for a solid mix of couriers.In turn, this will allow you to cater for every option and every customer, whether that’s someone who wants a package shipped across the globe in 3 days or someone who’s happy to wait a bit longer.

What’s more, with the right courier management system in place, you’ll be able to easily swap couriers out as your business evolves – not to mention negotiate better rates for your shipping!

Get in touch with us today to learn more about how a powerful shipping platform like Starshipit could revolutionise your shipping and fulfilment.

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David Renwick

David Renwick

David is Starshipit's Product Marketing Lead. When he's not whipping up a fresh new product update or chatting to customers for an exciting case study, you'll typically find him scoping out coffee spots and talking about what's on at the movies. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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