As you scale your eCommerce business and begin taking orders from customers in different countries and markets, it’s important to understand which fulfilment strategy is best suited to your business and your goals. Do you opt for cross-border shipping or a more localised approach? What about a mix of both
This is a hard question to answer. Hard enough if you're selling into just one new country, but exponentially tougher if you’re expanding into many different countries. Get it right and it will be a driver of growth. Get it wrong and it could cost dearly. So, how do you decide the best approach? Let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of each strategy.
With both postal authorities and courier companies offering international shipping products it’s common for start-ups to choose to ship cross-border rather than localised fulfilment, simply for ease of use. They don’t need to spend hours upon hours finding a localised warehouse that can store, pick, pack and ship your orders on demand in the one or more countries they are shipping to at a reasonable cost and in a way that’s aligned with their customer experience objectives. They also have direct control over their stock and orders and avoid the inherent challenges there can be with outsourcing to third parties.
However, in recent times cross-border shipping costs have risen dramatically following the Covid-19 pandemic and the rise in oil prices throughout 2022. There is also the challenge of varying customs processes and restrictions in different countries.
Given this, it’s imperative to choose the right cross-border partner for the fulfilment of your international orders. Partners that can offer access to enterprise level pricing not only to the large players, but also to smaller businesses, and those that are well versed in the automation of customs processes should be at the top of the list.
As noted above, localised fulfilment involves warehousing your items in locations closer to your customers, perhaps in several countries, or in some cases several locations within one country, for example East and West coast USA.
The benefits of this are typically much quicker transit times along with reduced shipping costs. Yet there are many extra costs associated with this strategy, so crunching the numbers is essential.
When a company is looking into localised fulfilment options, their operational needs are likely well-understood. Target markets are established and funds are available. Companies often work with local third party logistics providers, sometimes leveraging a number of small fulfilment centres to stock and ship out products. This can add extra layers of complexity with relation to operational management and issue resolution, due to the lack of control when compared to cross-border shipping.
This strategy is a blend of both cross-border shipping as well as localised fulfilment. This is typically adopted by eCommerce businesses that are well established, have a sizable customer base and are looking at ways to optimise their fulfilment and customer experience processes. The big advantage for businesses taking this route is they can benefit from the best of both cross-border and localised fulfilment. But implementation of such a strategy is challenging and often needs the expertise of shipping partners such as the team at ibundle.
There is no right or wrong answer. The correct strategy will depend on many factors, including but not limited to markets, customer base, customer expectations, costs and goals. What is clear is with all three routes choosing the right partners is essential and this is where ibundle can help.
With 120+ carrier options with both domestic and cross-border services, enterprise level pricing, pre-built integrations into customs brokers around the globe, warehouses in four continents and an easy to use web based system that integrates into many marketplaces and webstore platforms including Amazon, Etsy, eBay, Shopify and Woocommerce to name but a few, ibundle is best placed to implement your chosen international eCommerce strategy.
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