How does a package forwarding company provide its customers with a virtual address?
The principle is actually quite simple. In most cases, the virtual address that a package forwarding company gives to customers is actually the main warehouse of the company.
That’s why package forwarding companies have such few options when it comes to the virtual addresses on offer.
A warehouse needs to be on the premises to sort and store packages ready for forwarding.
Let’s take a closer look…
Package Fowarding Services & Virtual Addresses
So we’ve established that the virtual address you are given when you sign up for a package forwarding company, is the address of the warehouse.
However, how does the provider know that the package is meant for you?
Assigned a Customer Number
Each customer is assigned a membership number when they signup for and receive a virtual address with a package forwarder.
The format varies slightly between services, however, generally, your virtual address will be your name, followed by customer number, followed by the physical address of the warehouse, (see example image below).
Package Scanned & Entered into System
When a package arrives at the forwarding warehouse, it will have a barcode attached to it and the outside packaging will be scanned.
The fact your name and customer number forms part of the address means that this scan can be entered into a system and assigned to your customer account.
This is the system that you can log in to using the internet, see the scan and choose options on how you would like the package to be forwarded to you.
- Related Content: First Steps to Using a Package Forwarding Service
In What Locations do Package Forwarders offer Virtual Addresses?
The virtual address locations offered by package forwarders depend on the areas they are based and markets they are looking to service.
For example, a lot of USA-based forwarders have established warehouses in sales tax-free states such as Oregon.
This is because it benefits international shoppers looking to buy products in the USA and ship them to home addresses overseas.
There are also European-based package forwarding companies, providing virtual addresses in countries such as the U.K and Germany.
Not only do these benefit expats of those countries living overseas, but it also enables online shoppers from around the world to buy products easily from those markets.
Online retailers will send items to the local-based virtual address, never knowing that the item will be forwarded overseas.
This chain of events obviously does cost the consumer more in additional forwarding and courier fees, however.
Do any Package Forwarders Offer Multiple Addresses?
Generally, you are assigned one virtual address when you sign up for a package forwarding service.
However, a small number of services do offer more than one address for you to choose from.
In the case of Foward2me, (a package forwarder originating from the U.K), virtual addresses in the U.K, Germany, Turkey, and Japan are available.
You will need to choose one on signup, however, and this will depend on your needs and the market you are looking to ship products from.
USA-based package forwarders such as Shipito, follow a slightly different model.
They offer 2 virtual addresses based in the US. On a free account, customers are provided with access to the Californian warehouse, (and virtual address).
However, on a paid account, subscribers can utilize the Oregon warehouse and virtual address. This offers the aforementioned benefits of sales tax-free shopping.
What about Virtual Mailbox Providers?
As mentioned, due to the need to have warehouse space attached to the virtual address provided, not many services offer a wide range of addresses.
They offer a hybrid approach of being mailbox providers that can also forward packages that are sent to your virtual address.
Both providers have hundreds of addresses available, with mail scanning, forwarding, and other services available.
They are definitely worth a look if you need to do more than forwarding your online shopping purchases.
- Related Content: Top 6 Reasons for Using a Virtual Address [Personal & Business]
Ultimately, package forwarders provide their customers with virtual addresses by using the main warehouse address.
Your customer number is added to the address so that when a package arrives, the recipient can be located.
Some forwarders offer multiple addresses, however, if address choice is what you are really after, a mailbox service that offers package forwarding might be the better option.
I’m a 25 year veteran of USPS. I’m retired now, but as the editor of Mailbox Master, I can’t quite remove myself from the carrier industry just yet. 🙂