Orders flooding in from around the world is a dream scenario for fledgling e-commerce businesses. But the downside is having fulfilment capacity stretched to breaking point. Fast-growing brands typically find themselves struggling with parcel sorting, posting arrangements, and shipping orders worldwide. They also face challenges in courier negotiations, customs handling, and warehouse management. When the pressure is mounting, it may be the right time to consider outsourcing e-fulfilment.
Many small and medium-sized e-commerce brands in the UK are seeking stress-free solutions to expand their domestic and international reach. While outsourcing fulfilment is a significant decision, it offers numerous benefits for businesses looking to grow.
Expanding Beyond Borders
Selling to international customers can be a lucrative strategy when the domestic market is slow. According to our survey of 800 global e-commerce brands conducted earlier this year, 78% reported an increase in international shoppers. Moreover, 73% found that international demand was growing faster than domestic growth.
Despite Brexit challenges, UK traders are still targeting markets where their products are in demand. The depreciation of the British pound since the Brexit vote in 2016 has made UK goods and services more affordable to customers in other countries, particularly those in the EU. Furthermore, experts predict that European retailers will continue to experience growth in e-commerce sales in countries such as China, India, Korea, the Middle East, and North and South America in the coming years.
Asendia UK has assisted growing brands like Bali Body and Chilly’s Bottles in entering new markets outside the UK through air freight shipping and our network of partner postal services and couriers. These e-commerce companies reached a point where outsourcing became financially viable, allowing their management teams to focus on their core competencies. By outsourcing sorting, labelling, and returns handling, these brands have streamlined their processes and provided customers around the world with a superior shopping experience.
Outsourcing Your Fulfilment
When outsourcing fulfilment, a specialised logistics business takes responsibility for managing order fulfilment, sourcing labour, sorting and labelling packages, transit to air terminals for air freight, organising overseas postal routes and last-mile delivery, as well as managing warehouse space, customs paperwork planning, and reverse logistics. These firms, experts in international parcel shipping, can also provide advice on the safest and most cost-effective ways to expand internationally.
Can it save you money? In the long-term, yes. Outsourced fulfilment services offer significant cost savings due to the economies of scale achieved by 3PLs (third-party logistics partners), who can share infrastructure and utility costs among multiple clients. They are experts in negotiating with big global carriers to get the very best prices for air freight and last mile delivery, on behalf of their clients. Consequently, businesses often pay less per order than they would when fulfilling orders on their own.
Optimising Delivery Strategies for Success
To ensure prompt delivery, it may be necessary to invest in more expensive shipping methods, which can impact profitability. However, failing to invest in the customer experience could lead to higher cart abandonment rates.
Many in-house fulfilment operations lack the technology to streamline dimensional weight (DIM weight) and effectively compare rates between parcel carriers. Consequently, businesses often end up paying more for shipping than necessary. If you struggle to strike a balance between offering free shipping and protecting profit margins, a 3PL can help lower shipping costs.
SMEs should be cautious about rushing into using express delivery services for all orders. It is better to start with cost-effective basic delivery options for overseas shipments and negotiate shipping rates once order volumes increase. Additionally, it is crucial to consider returns management and ensure that couriers have adequate systems in place to handle returns across international borders. Ideally your chosen partner will have returns hubs in strategic locations so that you can build trust with your new overseas customers.
Leveraging Global Knowledge
No business owner can be an expert in everything, particularly in an ecommerce environment that is constantly evolving. It makes sense for SMEs to support and collaboration in the e-fulfilment community.
A reputable distribution partner can offer valuable insights on the best markets for your products worldwide. For example, at Asendia, our data highlights that France is a hotspot for fast fashion, while Israeli consumers favour British childrenswear brands. By shipping to countries with niche markets for your products, sales can rapidly take off.
Embracing Sustainable Fulfilment
As revealed in Asendia’s research, consumers desire both fast and green delivery options. An overwhelming 88% of brands reported that demand for free delivery persists, while 81% expected growing demand for more sustainable fulfilment. Leading e-commerce shipping providers now offer low-carbon or carbon-neutral delivery services, in our case by offsetting emissions. This allows conscious consumers to choose the type of delivery that aligns with their environmental values.
Flexibility and Efficiency
Maintaining warehouse space can be costly and inflexible. Outsourcing allows businesses to pay for the necessary space and services, providing flexibility during peak seasons like Mother’s Day, Black Friday, and Christmas, as well as slower trading periods. For instance, Asendia’s collaboration with Chilly’s Bottles demonstrates how flexible storage and scalable pick-and-pack services support international growth plans.
As businesses expand beyond Europe, they can tap into Asendia’s fulfilment centres in Asia and the USA, benefiting from local market knowledge and guidance on cost-effective and energy-efficient ways to reach new customers.
Going Global with Logistics Specialists
E-commerce shipping and fulfilment specialists play a crucial role in enabling retailers’ cross-border expansion plans. They invest in international fulfilment networks worldwide to facilitate seamless entry into new countries and ensure long-term resilience. Proactive partners can quickly find alternative routes and solutions when problems arise along traditional supply chains.
If you have ambitious aspirations for your e-commerce business, outsourcing fulfilment to the right partner can expedite your journey to international success. Conduct thorough due diligence, find a 3PL that aligns with your brand’s culture, and take this powerful step forward. After all, customer dissatisfaction with your inability to cope could wreck the business as quickly as it launched.