The effectiveness of an e-commerce company’s international order fulfillment may determine its success in the near future. By 2022, it’s estimated that cross-border e-commerce will account for one-fifth of online retail sales. As e-commerce growth begins to flatten in North America and Europe, companies will need to look to international markets to find new opportunities.
This means mastering international order fulfillment will be a crucial adaptation in the coming years. In this article, we’ll cover how fulfillment centers can benefit your company’s international e-commerce aspirations and how to choose the right third-party fulfillment partner.
The Benefits of Third-Party International Order Fulfillment
Often, e-commerce companies start out by fulfilling orders in-house. But, as Shopify notes, there comes a time when the logistics of in-house order fulfillment become too costly or cumbersome to manage:
When shipping over 10 orders per day
When in-house storage runs out or gets too expensive
When facing a growth or seasonal spike
To that list, we would add when your business begins to receive international orders. International order fulfillment, without the right plan, can make your logistics too costly and shipping times too long for your customers. That’s where third-party international order fulfillment comes to the rescue.
A third-party logistics company allows you to bring your products closer to your international customers by strategically choosing where you warehouse them. For an e-commerce company with customers in Brazil, stocking items in a fulfillment center in Panama, for example, would dramatically reduce shipping times and costs for your customers.
Besides increasing shipping times and costs, international order fulfillment comes with other challenges. Chief among those challenges are the unique documentation requirements for cross-border shipments. An experienced third-party logistics company can sort out all of the documentation, customs, and duties that accompany each order and remove that burden from your team.
If you choose to use a third-party logistics company to process your order fulfillment, it will require a commitment to strategic planning. Stocking a fulfillment center near your international customers allows you to ship items to the location by the cheapest transportation option. But the cheaper—and often slower—transportation methods often mean planning ahead to ensure there’s just enough product in stock to meet demand.
As Shopify notes, there are two types of businesses who should probably avoid third-party logistics: startups and other companies with limited cash, and businesses that have highly specialized needs for shipping.
Choosing a Partner for International Order Fulfillment
If you’re looking to find a third-party logistics company to manage your international order fulfillment, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that 90% of Fortune 500 companies use third-party logistics to meet their order fulfillment demands. Third-party logistics and order fulfillment services are a huge industry, and it’s important to do your research to find the right fit for your needs.
Before choosing a third-party logistics partner, there are some questions to answer about your business:
What sort of international order fulfillment capacity will you need?
Do you require special packaging or other customizations when shipping to customers?
What are your short-term goals (e.g., lower costs, better order accuracy) and long-term goals (e.g., devoting resources to other business functions instead of logistics)?
Understanding your logistics needs before you choose a third-party logistics partner will help ensure you pick the right partner. When vetting potential third-party logistics companies, you should figure out whether:
They specialize in working with the products your company produces.
They have fulfillment centers near your international markets.
They have experience handling the documentation required to export to each country where you do business.
On top of that, you’ll of course want to know the costs for inventory receiving, storage, pick & pack, and shipping.
Choosing the right partner for international order fulfillment takes work. One way to know whether you’ve found a good match for your company, according to Shopify, is to see if their current clients resemble your business. That’s a good indication that they can handle your fulfillment needs.
Let SkyPostal Handle Your Latin American Order Fulfillment Needs
With fulfillment centers in Florida, California, Panama, and elsewhere across the globe, SkyPostal can help you cut shipping times and costs for your Latin American customers. Plus, you’ll benefit from our decades of experience managing Latin American customs clearance and final mile delivery challenges.
Learn more about how SkyPostal can meet your international fulfillment needs by contacting us today.