Overseas Delivery (1,179 words)
By Lisa Yorgey Lester
The growth of e-commerce has made virtually every marketer with a Web site a global company. For marketers that choose to accept (yes, some decline) orders from overseas consumers, fulfillment requires more due diligence than simply dropping a package into the mail stream, closing one's eyes and praying it reaches its destination. Aside from the intricacies of fulfillment itself, you must decide how you're going to transport your product overseas and do it cost-effectively.
The payoff, however, can be big. International customers often tend to purchase more product and have higher average orders than their U.S. counterparts. Of course, your relationship with your customer largely depends on merchandise arriving in a timely manner and in good condition—particularly if the parcel has traveled thousands of miles.
There's More Than one way to Fulfill ...
The logistics of international shipping are "a dilemma for any company that sells a product or service and has a Web site," observes Joy Lacho Eaton, director of business solutions at Spring, a joint venture between Royal Mail, TNT Post Group and Singapore Post, a provider of worldwide delivery services.
How you choose to fulfill and ship products to customers abroad depends not only on the product you are shipping and your allowable turnaround time, but also on your company's commitment to international direct marketing.
Is it a large or growing portion of your business? Or are you merely testing the waters? Depending on what level of international business you are doing, you can determine which product delivery methods make the most sense for your business.
According to Lacho Eaton, there are three basic strategies for U.S. direct marketers delivering product to overseas customers:
1. Manage operations and fulfillment entirely from your U.S. headquarters;
2. Set-up a hybrid distribution system whereby you hire a subcontractor to handle customer service and returns from a single offshore location, presumably in the region you do most of your international business. Order fulfillment, however, still is managed from your U.S. operation; or