Fulfillment centers: shipping trend that drives global ecommerce

The shipping service that you offer to your international buyers must be reliable and work fast. So how can you fulfill shipments to different locations with maximum efficiency?

The good news is that there are international shipping solutions tailored to your business needs.

If you deliver across the globe, consider keeping your stock close to your major consumer markets.

In this article we’ll talk about fulfilment centers – a global shipping trend that revolutionizes selling strategies of many international online retailers.

Want to be a successful ecommerce seller? Shipping counts!

shipping international

Are you one of those growth-minded retailers who are looking to overseas markets for expansion? Perfect, you’ve given yourself a chance to multiply your income. However, you also need to go the extra mile to keep up with local competitors.

Ecommerce fulfillment demands are driven by increasing consumer expectations, the need to enhance customer experience and the continuous strive for speed and efficiency.

The online buyer of today is often happy to shop till they drop. But more often than not they also want instant gratification, expecting parcels to arrive safely and immediately. Or … as immediately as possible.

Thus, a good product price is not enough. If buyers see exorbitant shipping prices or super long delivery times, they will abandon their shopping carts.

The bar has been raised. Your competitors get it. They’re actively monitoring cutting-edge shipping solutions so that their offer stays attractive till the very checkout moment. You can’t turn a blind eye to their vigilance or you’ll be left behind, especially if you sell or want to sell on international markets.

Luckily, there are ways to stay ahead of local competition on global marketplaces. For instance, fulfillment facilities located closer to your international customers are one way of meeting aggressive delivery schedules.

international ecommerce fulfillment centre

The bottom line…

The shipping service that you offer must be reliable and work fast, in the case of both domestic and international customers.

If it works to your customers’ satisfaction, your value proposition is strengthened. Your clients, in turn, feel persuaded to order from you again.

Global ecommerce welcomes local solutions

international ecommerce localized website

Taking a closer look at your delivery strategies and optimizing your shipping should definitely be on your business agenda.

Consider ASOS: an ecommerce giant whose worldwide shipping strategy helped the company rock global ecommerce. Warehousing and delivery solutions have been on ASOS’ priority list. Distribution efficiencies and delivery options enabled the company to ship to many international destinations across the globe within 48 hours.

This only proves the importance of an efficient shipping strategy that involves a reliable and fast service. No wonder that global deliveries are becoming a local practice.

Today outsourcing fulfillment operations to third parties is a common practice among many retailers. The result is fulfilling shipments to different locations with greater efficiency.

In international ecommerce fast and reliable shipping solutions are a true driver of sales growth.

ASOS got it right.

Fulfillment centers in international ecommerce: a good or bad idea?

For starters – definitions.

A fulfilment center is a place where incoming orders are received from affiliated locations or stores. A fulfilment center’s role is to process and fill such orders. It can work independently of specific companies.

So if you sell internationally, you may ask yourself this question:

Should I use a fulfillment warehouse to make shipping less costly for my online store and more attractive for my foreign customers?

First, let’s consider some of the advantages of using a fulfillment center:

  • Better shipping rates: fulfillment warehouses tend to ship large quantities for multiple vendors, which lowers shipping costs.
  • Integration with the main shipping logistics companies should give you better access to various shipping options.
  • Shorter shipping times: especially if your fulfillment center is close to the majority of your customers.

Using a fulfillment warehouse will allow you to store your inventory in a single location. When an order comes in, it will be automatically forwarded to your fulfillment partner who will pick, pack and ship the product for you. Pretty comfy.

Take Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) as an example. It’s cost-effective, simple and allows sellers to delegate a lot, leaving them with more time to focus on the development of their businesses.

The programme is suitable for various types of sellers, e.g. those with limited shipping capabilities or willing to sell internationally.

According to Marcin Wejtko, Project Manager at Webinterpret and expert in international sales on Amazon:

One of the detractors to Cross-Border Trade are international shipping costs, too high for many consumers. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service that revolutionizes global logistics  by empowering even small sellers: this happens thanks to the huge cost efficiency of Amazon fulfillment centers.

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Marcin Wejtko, Project Manager at Webinterpret and an expert on international sales on Amazon

In the case of highly competitive items, it’s usually recommended to use fulfillment solutions offered by marketplaces, e.g. FBA or Rakuten Super Logistics, for a start. In this case they generally offer the best rates for given markets. Additionally, such tools not only allow you to ship goods faster and cheaper, but also help to sell more as items gain visibility.

However, when using such solutions, take into account the extra costs that may apply when selling on external channels.

And how about your own online store?

If you don’t want to do the packaging and dispatch your goods yourself or risk longer shipping times, move part of your stock to a fulfilment center.

If, let’s say, you’re a British online seller trading in the US, keep part of your stock in the US, close to your US customers. Shipping products in-country eliminates the hassle and delays of cross-border commerce.

If you ship a higher volume of merchandise to a given location, you’ll probably be better off having inventory closer to your end customers.

Keep up with online buyers’ delivery expectations

happy ecommerce customer

Increasing consumer expectations are driving the r/evolution of the ecommerce shipping landscape. The bar has been raised.

The result? For instance, due to the need to accommodate last-minute or less patient shoppers, delivery models, such as same-day or next-day delivery, are becoming more and more commonplace.

Today many buyers don’t expect orders to be delivered within a week or two, more and more often within 24 to 48 hours.

What do online buyers expect from delivery?

Among other things:

  • order accuracy
  • multiple delivery options
  • good parcel tracking
  • mobile-site ordering capability
  • fast and free delivery
  • free returns.

ecommerce parcel postbox

What can be the biggest distress for them?

A parcel that arrives too late or has been destroyed in transit. The risk seems much higher when goods have to travel across borders.

Buyers tend to feel distressed when it takes too long for the parcel to arrive. If you ship abroad, it can take even one month for the order to arrive, which can cause your customer a lot of stress!

Fulfillment centers can shorten shipping times. If you stock your products locally, close to your customers, you can handle shipping times and international orders as if they were domestic.

Either way, make some effort to reassure your customers. Tracking the parcel will give a sense of security to the buyer, but also to yourself, e.g. when one of your packages gets damaged or lost.

For this reason, Webinterpret offers a proactive, automated tracking tool for its customers. It allows buyers who have chosen a tracked delivery option to know the exact location of their parcel. The information is automatically sent so it’s hassle-free.

International parcel forwarding: stay ahead of competition!

Online buyers across the globe are expecting quicker and quicker deliveries and … great shipping rates. Is it possible to give them everything, though?

Maybe in the case of my local buyers… you may think. But what if I need to ship to other countries and/or continents?

Fortunately, it’s possible to satisfy many of your customers’ demands as well as offer them … something special.

But first – consider this. Small to medium-sized online retailers rarely have the resources to manage international shipping in the most efficient way. In comparison, companies that regularly ship high volumes are able to negotiate better rates and discounts. This way, they can pass on their own lower costs to their clients.

To offer competitive shipping rates to your buyers AND pay low shipping rates yourself, you can try companies offering parcel forwarding services. You can benefit from their:

  • knowledge of the domestic & international shipping industry
  • co-operation with global couriers
  • ability to leverage volume to reduce cost
  • parcel tracking services
  • other services, e.g. handling shipping documents, consolidating packages to reduce costs or repacking parcels which do not meet international shipping packaging standards.

Check the image below to get an idea of how international parcel forwarding works.

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For more details about how you can use parcel forwarding to boost your ecommerce sales, check out our article Grow your international ecommerce sales with parcel forwarding.

In a nutshell

Fulfilment centers can fulfil a lot of ecommerce delivery needs and provide much of the customer experience.

However, ecommerce buyers of today have huge expectations and their satisfaction must be an absolute priority, especially when it comes to delivery times.

Thinking that international buyers are an exception to this rule is misguided. Sure, a lot of them will be patient and understanding, knowing the order is coming from abroad.

All the same, many will not want to wait for the product too long or risk stress, waiting for the order to arrive.

Thus, fulfilment centers can come to the rescue of international online store owners.

According to Adrien Salvat, the International Shipping Expert at Webinterpret,

Local fulfilment is recommended, but it requires tight inventory management and a strong local partner.

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Adrien Salvat, the Head of the Shipping Department at Webinterpret

Interested in shipping solutions that will rock your international ecommerce sales? Contact us.

Other sources

5 Essential Practices for Ecommerce Distribution Center Fulfillment
How is E-commerce Changing Distribution Center Site Selection?
E-Commerce Trends Driving Distribution Centers’ Need For New Mobile Technology, Voice Applications To Provide Accurate, On-Time Delivery, Honeywell Survey Reveals
International shipping
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