Savvy eCommerce store owners constantly seek ways to streamline operations, increase sales, and expand their reach. But these goals are out of reach without a foundation of supply chain management processes.
One of the most effective ways to cost-efficiently serve customers across the globe is by partnering with third-party logistics providers (3PLs). Ecommerce companies that work with 3PLs can outsource their supply chain processes, such as warehousing, transportation, and fulfillment. Doing so allows growing businesses to focus on their core competencies.
Many eCommerce companies cannot afford to ship internationally without charging huge additional fees. However, these additional fees often scare off would-be customers. According to Shopify, 50% of shopping cart abandonments are ultimately the result of high additional costs, the vast majority of which are related to shipping.
For eCommerce companies that are just starting out, it makes sense to ship the handful of international orders they may receive through the US Postal Service or a similar carrier. This is a perfectly acceptable stopgap measure for young businesses but it doesn’t scale well.
This is a real shame, too, as the ability to seamlessly deliver products to customers around the world not only helps businesses tap into new markets but also enhances their competitiveness. Given the myriad challenges of managing international shipping and the benefits of going global, it’s no wonder that many eCommerce store owners turn to 3PLs for support.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the top 10 powerful benefits of using 3PLs for international shipping, demonstrating how these partnerships can unlock the full potential of your eCommerce business.
1. Customized shipping solutions
One of the key advantages of partnering with a 3PL provider for international shipping is the ability to access customized shipping solutions. These solutions cater to the unique requirements of different countries and regions, ensuring your eCommerce store remains competitive globally.
One thing you will notice when working with a 3PL in another country is that they are well-versed in the nuances of international trade and have established relationships with carriers and local partners within their region. This knowledge and network allow them to tailor shipping solutions to their service area’s specific regulations, customs processes, and cultural preferences. As a result, your customers can enjoy a seamless and personalized shopping experience, regardless of where they’re located.
For example, your 3PL provider might know specific regulations in the European Union, such as the strict labeling requirements for cosmetics. As a result, they can guide you on the necessary steps to ensure your products are compliant, minimizing the risk of shipment delays or rejection at customs.
In Asia, your 3PL provider could leverage their local partnerships to offer cost-effective shipping solutions, such as consolidating shipments with other businesses to save on transportation costs. They might also help you navigate complex customs processes in countries like China, with unique rules and regulations for importing goods.
These are just a few examples of how 3PLs know the nuances of their service areas. As a business owner, you don’t need to become an expert in international shipping to run your store. You can simply find a partner that is.
2. Freight brokerage services
Another significant benefit of using 3PLs for international shipping is their freight brokerage services. These services can help eCommerce store owners save time and money by negotiating the best freight shipping rates and selecting the most reliable carriers. That way, you don’t have to book freight on your own.
In addition to negotiating favorable rates, 3PLs also prioritize the selection of reliable carriers. They carefully vet and monitor carriers based on performance metrics such as on-time delivery, cargo safety, and customer service. This meticulous approach ensures that your shipments are entrusted to carriers with a proven track record, reducing the likelihood of delays or damaged goods.
By partnering with a 3PL for freight brokerage services, you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing experts are managing your international shipments. Their ability to secure the best rates and work with trustworthy carriers ultimately translates to cost savings, timely deliveries, and satisfied customers for your eCommerce store.
3. Customs clearance expertise
Navigating the complexities of international customs can be daunting for eCommerce store owners. Fortunately, 3PLs have valuable customs clearance expertise, streamlining the customs process and reducing the risk of costly delays and penalties.
Since many 3PL providers also provide customs clearance services, they are also well-versed in the diverse customs regulations and requirements across different countries and regions. As a result, they can efficiently manage the necessary documentation, such as commercial invoices, packing lists, and certificates of origin, ensuring that your shipments comply with the relevant laws and regulations.
By leveraging their customs clearance expertise, 3PLs can identify potential issues and address them proactively, minimizing the likelihood of delays at the border. Even something as innocent as a board game may be subject to strict safety and testing regulations, so you always want to check this. In addition, working with 3PLs can prevent costly penalties or fines that may arise from customs violations.
Furthermore, many 3PLs have established relationships with customs authorities, which can facilitate a smoother clearance process. This rapport enables them to expedite the resolution of any issues that may arise during the customs process, keeping your shipments on track and your customers satisfied.
4. Consolidated shipping and warehousing
A notable advantage of working with a 3PL for international shipping is that some can provide consolidated shipping and warehousing services. These services help eCommerce store owners lower shipping costs and simplify inventory management across multiple countries.
By consolidating shipments, 3PLs enable you to leverage the economies of scale that come with bulk shipping. Instead of sending multiple packages, your shipments can be combined with those of other businesses to fill entire containers or cargo holds. This bulk consolidation results in lower shipping costs per unit, ultimately reducing your overall shipping expenses.
In addition to consolidated shipping, 3PLs also offer multi-country warehousing solutions. These services allow you to store your products in strategic locations close to your target markets, leading to faster delivery times and reduced shipping costs. Moreover, by partnering with a 3PL that operates a network of warehouses, you can centralize and simplify your inventory management, making it easier to monitor stock levels and optimize order fulfillment.
5. Faster delivery times
Among the multitude of advantages offered by 3PLs for international shipping, faster delivery times stand out as a particularly appealing benefit. By leveraging their extensive logistics networks and expertise, 3PLs can optimize routing and transit to expedite shipments, ultimately boosting customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Well-managed 3PLs excel at identifying the most efficient routes and methods for transporting goods, considering factors such as transit times, costs, and carrier performance. This routing and transit optimization ensures that your shipments reach their destinations swiftly without sacrificing reliability or incurring high costs.
Lastly, if you are working with international 3PLs, shipping will be faster for one straightforward reason. The warehouse will be located closer to your customer!
The impact of faster delivery times on customer satisfaction and loyalty cannot be overstated. As many as 42% of shoppers expect 2-day delivery for free on every single purchase they make online, regardless of the retailer’s size. (Blame Amazon, if you must). By meeting or exceeding these expectations, your store can cultivate a reputation for exceptional service, which in turn drives customer loyalty and increases all-important customer retention.
6. Improved order tracking and visibility
A key advantage of partnering with a 3PL for international shipping is the enhancement of order tracking and visibility. This improvement allows your eCommerce store to provide customers with real-time updates and proactively handle shipping issues and delays, resulting in a superior customer experience.
Suppose you handle orders on your own for international shipping. In that case, there is a good chance that tracking information will not be available past a certain point, depending on the destination and the type of postage purchased. With 3PLs, this issue doesn’t come up as often simply because they work with local carriers or negotiate favorable rates on postage prices that include tracking.
As a result, you can more consistently offer customers up-to-the-minute updates on their order status, fostering transparency and trust in your brand. In addition, this proactive approach helps maintain customer satisfaction and loyalty, as potential issues are handled efficiently and effectively.
7. Capacity to handle growing order volumes
Working with one or more 3PLs for international shipping also provides eCommerce store owners with the capacity to handle growing order volumes. This capability enables businesses to adapt to seasonal fluctuations and scale seamlessly as they expand, ensuring customer demands are consistently met.
Compared to eCommerce businesses that run their fulfillment operations in-house, 3PL providers possess the infrastructure and resources needed to accommodate varying order volumes. So whether your business experiences a surge in orders during peak seasons or promotions, 3PLs can swiftly adjust their operations to fulfill these increased demands, maintaining timely and reliable deliveries.
The ability to scale as your business grows is vital to sustaining long-term success. As your eCommerce store expands and enters new markets, a 3PL partner can support this growth by providing additional logistics services, such as warehousing and distribution, in the regions where you operate. This scalability ensures that your supply chain remains efficient and cost-effective even as your business evolves.
8. Access to a global network of partners
Most 3PL providers have established relationships with a diverse array of carriers, freight forwarders, and regional logistics providers, which are essential for successful international shipping. This vast network of partners allows your eCommerce store to quickly enter new markets and reach customers in various regions, promoting business growth and expansion. That means you don’t have to cultivate all these essential relationships alone.
Plus, 3PLs can expertly navigate the complexities of regional logistics, ensuring that your shipments are handled by the most suitable and reliable carriers in each destination. This seamless integration with regional partners streamlines your supply chain and ensures that your goods are delivered promptly and cost-effectively, regardless of their destination.
9. Outsourcing non-core tasks to focus on core business
As an eCommerce store owner, your primary focus should be on your core business, such as product development, marketing, and customer experience. By outsourcing non-core tasks, like international shipping, to third-party logistics providers (3PLs), you can streamline your operations and dedicate more time to your primary responsibilities.
It’s a simple point, but that doesn’t make it any less true. By entrusting your logistics to a 3PL, you can focus on what you do best – growing your eCommerce business and delivering exceptional customer experiences.
10. Cost-effective postage for international shipping
One of the most compelling reasons to partner with a 3PL for international shipping is the access to cost-effective postage. By pooling the shipments of multiple businesses, 3PLs can take advantage of economies of scale to lower shipping costs, particularly when it comes to postage. In addition, this approach enables them to negotiate better rates with carriers and offer more affordable shipping solutions to their clients, ultimately reducing your overall logistics expenses.
Consider this – 3PLs often have substantial buying power due to their extensive network of partners and the volume of shipments they manage. This clout allows them to secure preferential rates and discounts with carriers, which can then be passed on to your business. As a result, you can access more competitive shipping options without sacrificing the quality or reliability of the service.
Choosing to work with a 3PL for international shipping offers a myriad of benefits for eCommerce store owners. From customized shipping solutions and freight brokerage services to customs clearance expertise and consolidated shipping, 3PLs provide an extensive range of services that streamline your supply chain operations.
Additionally, 3PLs enable faster delivery times, improved order tracking and visibility, and the capacity to handle growing order volumes. With access to a global network of partners and cost-effective shipping solutions, your eCommerce store can expand its reach and remain competitive in the global market.
By making good use of the expertise and resources of a 3PL, your business can enjoy enhanced efficiency, reduced costs, and improved customer satisfaction. Taken together, this positions you and your business for growth and, ultimately, long-term prosperity in the ever-evolving world of online retail.
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