By: Atikah Hanafi
More e-commerce companies begin to penetrate the international market as business no longer bounded by geographical boundaries. In fact, cross-border e-commerce is set to rise to a whopping US$627 billion in sales by 2022 based on a report made by Forrester.
Indeed, owning a cross border e-commerce store can be a lucrative venture nowadays. According to a report by Accenture, an estimation of 2 billion e-shoppers would be making US$3.4 trillion worth of transaction online by 2020. Nonetheless, whether you run a large or small cross border e-commerce business, it all boils down to your business strategy and that includes choosing the best fulfilment and shipping partner for your company. If you’re thinking of going global, here are 5 tips on choosing the best shipping partner for your business.
- Map out Your Business Strategy
A solid understanding of your own products and shipping requirements is essential before you even begin looking out for the potential shipping partner for your business. Map out a business strategy by clearly specifying your product’s types, sizes, weights and volume as well as where you’ll be shipping them. You’ll also need to set a shipping budget that works for the size of your business.
By knowing your own shipping needs, you’ll be able to narrow down your options easily.
- Delivery Rates
Once you identify your own shipping requirements, look for those offering services that suit your need. Are you willing to work with different partners for freight forwarding and end-mile delivery, therefore, bearing the additional cost that might incurred for working with multiple shippers? Perhaps you would rather opt for one company that can function as both your freight forwarding partner and end-mile delivery partner? Your best bet is to find a shipping partner that provides all-inclusive cross-border solutions which suits all your company need.
Check the rates for all services offered by your potential carriers and compare their prices with the industry standard. Some fulfilment company might offer you cheaper rate but it is not inclusive of insurance coverage in case of accidents and liabilities.
- Reliability & Flexibility
Doing a background check of your potential carrier can provide useful insights. A reliable career must have a great track record and positive user reviews. A company that can offer you cheaper shipping rates might not be as reliable as the more expensive ones. Some countries might have specific rules and regulations in handling import and export. Ensure that your potential shipping partner have the licenses to ship certain products in your intended shipping areas to avoid mishaps during customs clearance.
Check whether they have any records of delaying packages and losing items. Although issues and delays are not entirely avoidable, seeing how the company handles the situation can make or break your business’ reputation. The best shipping partner must be responsive, transparent and flexible in handling emergencies cases and delivery issues.
- Shipping Speed
Another factor that must be considered when evaluating potential shipping partners is timeliness. Hence, you must weight down which factors should be given more priority than others. If you want the quality and time of delivery to be at par, you must be willing to spend more on the shipping cost.
In the e-commerce world, speed is vital. Check how long does it take for your potential carrier to deliver your parcel. Some customers might be more tolerant with longer delivery especially when buying product from cross border e-commerce. Nevertheless, there might be special cases when you are required to deliver faster than usual. Look for partners that can handle special cases like same day delivery, express delivery, etc. should such demand arises. Find out whether there are extra charges and surcharges that might incur for different delivery options.
In the end, what matters most is whether you will be able to deliver the parcel right at your customer’s doorstep. Cross border e-commerce runs the risk of losing potential customers when they are unable to handle shipment to certain countries. Hence, ensure that the potential carriers covers your target market areas before choosing your shipping partner.
Knowing the whereabouts of your parcel during the delivery process can also be a plus point when evaluating potential shipping partners. Choosing one with a transparent tracking service will enable both you and your customers to monitor your package while keeping your shipping partner accountable for the shipment.
As an e-commerce business owner, you have limited control of your parcel’s whereabout once it’s in the hands of a shipping partner, until it is delivered to your customers. Hence, the right shipping partner can either make or break your business as they are the ones responsible during the end-mile delivery before your customer receive their purchase. A smooth delivery experience will undeniably create a positive impressions among your customers.