Global e-commerce makes it possible to offer products and win customers worldwide. Alas, in order to benefit sustainably from the booming online trade, companies need more than just a good marketing strategy. A key success factor – and one of the biggest challenges at the same time – is fulfillment. Read here what retailers and logistics managers should bear in mind in order to manage their cross-border logistics efficiently and cost-effectively.
Strong fulfillment leads to satisfied customers
The year 2020 was extremely challenging for many companies. Nevertheless, there were also good news – especially for e-commerce: online retail continued to grow strongly despite or even because of the Corona pandemic. In Germany alone, according to the BEVH industry association, gross sales of goods in e-commerce rose by 14.6 percent – an upward trend..
This is a promising prospect – also for international suppliers who want to tap into new target groups in Europe. However, in practice, there are a number of hurdles to overcome. For example, how can shipping be organized safely and cost-effectively? Where are the goods stored and how do they reach their destination? Customers will only be satisfied if all the processes are properly interlocked right down to the last link in the chain.
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Direct shipping or local fulfillment?
Which fulfillment strategy is best suited to support cross-border business depends, among other things, on a company’s capacities and market knowledge. Especially newcomers to the market should consider the so-called direct shipping model. This involves using resources in the company’s own country as much as possible. At the same time, external logistics service providers take care of cross-border warehousing, customs formalities, transport and last-mile delivery. This approach offers enormous advantages, especially for newcomers to the market: Companies can initially test how their product is received in the target market. If things go well, they can set up their own overseas company and invest in a corresponding distribution infrastructure – with a much better planning reliability at this point.
Cross-border fulfillment: cost efficiency, transparency and flexibility
Whether online stores can handle international shipping “in-house” also depends on the volume of orders. Companies that ship more than 10,000 packages per day are well advised to use external fulfillment support. Manual processing and packaging in the company’s own warehouse is time-consuming and prone to errors. Professional logistics service providers can score points with automated processes and digital tracking solutions. In the event of demand peaks, they can also quickly offer additional capacity.
Another competitive advantage that should not be underestimated is an efficient returns processing. Service providers with the appropriate infrastructure on site can return shipments collectively or, at best, store them in the destination country and resell them. This is more sustainable and more economical than returning individual items to the country of origin. After all, an increasing number of consumers are paying attention to the responsible use of climate and resources. In the area of fulfillment and shipping, this can also mean relying on climate-neutral shipping options or recyclable packaging.
Cross-Border Logistics: Time as a Success Factor
A success factor that is equally important is the time that products take in order to be delivered. Leading marketplaces have long since set new standards in this context, and online shoppers around the world are becoming increasingly demanding with regard to delivery times. Companies should therefore check whether it is possible to use warehouses in the geographical vicinity of the customers? Can shipping routes be shortened? External logistics service providers support companies that want to sell their goods in Europe by closely integrating fulfillment and transport – with significant efficiency benefits.