Producers, e-commerce platforms, shipping services, and logistics companies are all working to satisfy the last link in the chain - consumers. This is because their experiences translate into an assessment of the entire logistical process underneath. Whether we’re talking about cargo or small, single-package shipments and short distances or sent halfway around the world, three factors are the most important: time, price, and delivery condition.
What is cross-border logistics?
Cross-border logistics is a whole section of knowledge based on transport connections between countries around the globe. It’s a type of network helping with supply chain management and efficient flow of products in compliance with international legal and tax regulations.
There are four basic forms of logistic transportation - road, rail, maritime, and air shipments - and all of them can have a significant impact on the delivery process. A lot depends on the type of product – is it spoilable and difficult to store or pack? Such information will be necessary to choose the right mode of transport, estimate the value, secure the shipment, and deliver it internationally.
Understanding cross-border logistics
Cross-border transportation is not only about transferring products from one place to another. In addition to this basic activity, there are a few more aspects that are equally important as duties, border crossing hours, track record, and proper transport documentation. The number of potential obstacles or unforeseen factors met along the way depends on where to and how long a shipment travels for. You need to remember that requirements change from one country to another, especially when they’re not affiliated (so the EU is an exception). A perfect example to illustrate these differences in North America are the cross-border transport requirements between the USA and Mexico or Canada.
The complexity of such processes will be a challenge for everyone who’s facing them for the first time. However, a well-prepared logistics partner can offer internal and external freight, service of most if not all product categories (e.g. the sensitive ones), and possibly well-located distribution facilities as an extension of the aforementioned requirements.
Upon realisation of how big a technological and business background is required for international transport, it becomes clear that it is worth considering a trusted supplier. A partner who has a suitable fleet and cooperates with responsible shippers on both sides of the border can help a business grow thanks to appropriate planning and logistics process optimisation.
Cross-border shipping vs. localised shipping
According to recent surveys, it is known that customers’ shopping behaviours have changed. They willingly choose to shop online and also from abroad, especially when the availability of goods in their home country is limited or a particular offer is irresistible. Still, the key factors are the same: costs (delivery, duties) and time.
We already know the challenges of cross-border shipping, but are there significant differences compared to localised deliveries? For sure there are.
Localised shipping is cheaper and faster, usually requiring just one logistics company. A parcel will arrive at its destination in 1-2 days and the costs will be limited to a few euros. However, through cross-border shipping and worldwide sales, new opportunities arise for businesses: to attract new clients, grow their reputation, and increase recognition of the brand. These are all steps forward to achieving a new development level.
In a case like that, when there is sales potential in other markets, a combination of both solutions can be used. Find a trustworthy subcontractor with warehouses in the destination country to deliver parcels via localised shipping. This approach allows businesses to serve customers more effectively and meet their expectations - we call it fulfilment outsourcing.
The benefits of such services are truly advantageous, so many companies selling abroad opt for them. Besides, choosing a fulfilment service that connects multiple entities into one like the Linker Fulfilment Network makes it easier to scale a business. Thanks to this they gain:
- one-click access to new countries and potential partners
- elasticity during foreign expansion
- facilitation of integration with external systems
- assistance and expert advice
- cost and process optimization
How does it work?
Comparing offers, proposed prices, and/or the scope of customer support from 3PL companies in an unknown market is demanding and time-consuming. For this reason, we created the Linker Fulfilment Network. A tool that makes establishing cooperation between ecommerce and logistics operators easier than ever. In this international base, we connect ecommerce stores of all sizes with local fulfilment players, allowing them to complement each other's needs and business processes. Owing to this, companies can constantly grow without looking out for their larger competitors. Every organisation in our network is verified by us and has signed a contract, which means that all entities can feel safe.
For small and medium-sized ecommerce businesses working with third-party logistics often means an extra full-time job. By working with us, they can reduce time, resources, and worry about changes in international law or taxes - this responsibility is on us.
Our network currently consists of 50+ logistics partners from all over Europe, providing expansion into foreign markets for our ecommerce clients.
Cross-border ecommerce: best practices
Have we convinced you that it is worth starting cross-border ecommerce? Before you act, read our set of best practices:
- Strategy – it’s the heart of any major plan. Do you know which of your products have the potential for international sales and in which countries? Do you know how to communicate with new clients and why the D2C channel is so important?
Remember: speak to the buyer in their language, enable payments in their preferred methods and currencies. Be transparent.
- Logistics – decide which parts of the process you will do by yourself and for which you need the help of a suitable subcontractor. Maybe you will decide to outsource order fulfilment?
Remember: the Linker Fulfilment Network allows you to work safely with 3PL companies around the globe.
- Test – select one or a few products (not all of them) and introduce them to the market. This way, you’ll be able to verify consumer behaviour and recognize the market, reducing losses.
Remember: rapid changes may be necessary if it turns out that your predicted scenario isn’t realistic. Testing will help you optimise your actions.
- Learn and repeat - analyse your mistakes, draw conclusions, and improve the process. Launching a business in a foreign market can be a repeatable strategy.
Remember: you will be able to save time and money thanks to the foundations you have laid during expansion into a new region when you do it again.
- Grow and conquer - the previous steps will lead you here. Satisfaction with completed work is a driving force for new plans and actions.
Remember: a big part of success is teamwork, so appreciate your friends and colleagues.
These few points outline only the key milestones on the road to foreign sales. Each of them is very important and crucial to success, requiring adequate preparation and deep analysis. Due to global growth of the ecommerce market, we believe that such a process awaits everyone who wants to scale and develop their business. Sooner or later, the primary markets will become too tight. With our help, growth is within reach.