International Fulfillment

International Fulfillment and Scalability: Unlocking Global Opportunities

Global Fulfilment

Businesses are increasingly expanding their reach beyond borders, seeking to tap into new markets and seize international opportunities. International fulfillment is at the forefront of this global expansion—a strategic approach that empowers brands to scale their operations while efficiently managing logistics and delivering exceptional customer experiences worldwide. 

One company leading the way in supporting international expansion by UK brands is I-Fulfilment. With a strong emphasis on scalability and a global support network, I-Fulfilment enables brands to harness the full potential of their businesses. By leveraging a comprehensive network of warehouses across key regions, I-Fulfilment equips brands with the infrastructure and international reach necessary to control shipping costs and maximise profits. 

In this piece, we will explore the following;

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What is International Fulfillment?

International fulfillment refers to handling and delivering orders for eCommerce businesses globally. It involves efficiently handling orders from various countries, including receiving, processing, and delivering them to customers worldwide. 

For businesses that operate on a global scale and maintain inventory in multiple countries, international fulfillment becomes crucial. Companies rely on international partners to handle their orders instead of dealing with the complexities of shipping and logistics across different regions. 

Understanding International Fulfillment Cost

If your eCommerce business operates within the UK and aims to optimise shipments worldwide, or if your plan intends to venture into the UK market from another country, numerous variables will influence your global fulfillment strategy and subsequent expenses.

The dimensions of each shipment play a crucial role in determining the ultimate shipping cost. DIM (Dimensional) weight is a pricing method employed by major shipping carriers for both domestic and international shipments. 

When transporting international orders, space is limited, and thus DIM weight takes into account the package density to ascertain shipping rates. It’s worth noting that even if your package is lightweight, large dimensions may lead to paying for the size rather than shipping based solely on weight. 

Commercial invoices are essential documents prepared by freight or exporter to prove ownership and establish payment schedules for the exporter. These invoices must contain a comprehensive description of the goods, their value, the seller’s and shipper’s shipping destinations, as well as delivery and payment terms. The commercial invoice is instrumental in facilitating customs clearance for the package. 

Customs encompass a country’s import and export laws and regulations. The customs department administers and collects duties imposed by the government on imported goods. Upon a shipment’s arrival in the destination country, customs authorities conduct inspections and review the commercial invoice. Once customs approval is obtained and the necessary duties are paid, the product package can be delivered to its shipping destination. 

These are payments or taxes that must be settled before a shipment can be delivered. Import duties may significantly vary from one country to another and are considered legal requirements. It’s important to note that customers might be required to pay additional duties and taxes before receiving an international shipment. These unexpected costs can deter customers from proceeding with the purchase. 

A free trade zone refers to a geographical location where goods can be received, stored, handled, manufactured, or reconfigured without customs intervention or the need to pay duties in most cases. Free trade zones serve to mitigate the complexities of cross-border commerce. However, it’s essential to recognise that once goods are transported to end consumers in the destination country, they become subject to existing customs duties. 

These are payments or taxes that must be settled before a shipment can be delivered. Import duties may significantly vary from one Tariffs are taxes imposed on imported or exported goods. The money collected through tariffs is known as a duty or customs duty. Tariffs effectively increase the price of imported goods. Different countries maintain varying tariffs for incoming shipments, which are subject to constant change and updates. Businesses have the option to prepay international duties and tariffs or pass these fulfillment costs onto their customers. 

International Fulfilment Costs |
International Fulfilment using Cross Border Shipping |

International Fulfillment Using Cross-border Shipping

Cross-border fulfillment involves shipping orders from one country to buyers in other countries, making it the easiest and quickest method for small-scale sellers to start shipping internationally. This approach allows businesses to manage inventory and fulfillment through their usual process, requiring only a few changes, such as specific shipping documents and carrier options. 

There are two cost-effective ways to incorporate international orders into your business using cross-border shipping: 

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In-house Cross-border Shipping

In-house international fulfillment offers the lowest barrier to entry and provides the flexibility to modify your shipping strategy as needed. While it may cost more in the long run compared to outsourcing to a third-party provider, it is ideal for businesses looking to establish their in-house fulfillment operation or those testing the waters with international sales.

To begin with, for in-house cross-border shipping, familiarise yourself with the best international shipping carriers and methods that serve the countries you are selling to. Popular choices with global reach include FedEx, UPS, USPS, and DHL. Each company offers a convenient calculator tool to determine costs, options, and transit times.

Your usual order processing, picking, and packing method can largely remain unchanged for international shipping in-house. However, the shipping label procedure will need adjustments, as you will be required to create customs forms.

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Cross-border Fulfillment Partners

With cross-border fulfillment, your inventory is stored within your country, while a 3PL provider handles all aspects of international shipping.

Similar to the in-house method, each international order will cross borders and go through customs, which may involve applicable delivery duties and taxes. For small-scale sellers shipping a consistent percentage of sales abroad, third-party cross-border fulfillment offers the easiest and most cost-effective solution for handling international fulfillment.

By opting for cross-border shipping, businesses can expand their reach and tap into global markets efficiently. Whether choosing to manage the process in-house or collaborating with a reliable fulfillment partner, this approach allows businesses to navigate international sales with ease and cost-effectiveness.

How to Choose the Right Fulfillment Partner

When selecting an international fulfillment partner, businesses should consider the following solutions: 

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Extensive network and expertise

Choose a fulfillment partner with a vast network of warehouses and distribution centers in key international markets. They should have experience and knowledge in navigating local customs, regulations, and shipping processes.

Cost-effective shipping options

Look for a fulfillment partner that offers fast shipping options, ideally matching or exceeding industry standards like Amazon’s two-day delivery policy.

Multilingual support

Opt for a partner that provides multilingual customer support to address language barriers effectively. This ensures clear and accurate communication with customers in their native languages.

Customs expertise

Ensure the fulfillment partner understands customs regulations and can handle customs documentation and clearance efficiently. This helps avoid delays and ensures compliance with import requirements.

Robust security measures

Prioritise a fulfillment partner implementing security protocols, including secure storage facilities and comprehensive fraud prevention measures. This helps protect customer data and prevents unauthorised access.

Value-added services

Numerous third-party logistics providers (3PLs) present value-added services to their clients, including subassembly, kitting, and custom packaging. It becomes crucial to assess whether potential partners can offer these services at scale while upholding the unparalleled quality of the post-purchase experience for your valuable customers.

Returns management

Evaluate the fulfillment partner's returns management capabilities, including streamlined return processes, clear instructions, and timely refunds or exchanges. A customer-friendly returns process enhances customer satisfaction and encourages repeat purchases.

Scalability and technology integration

Select a fulfillment partner with scalable operations and advanced technology integration. This ensures the ability to handle increased order volumes, provides real-time inventory visibility, and enables seamless integration with e-commerce platforms.

Benefits of a 3PL for Global Fulfillment

Handling international order fulfillment on your own can be a daunting task. That’s why many ecommerce brands opt for 3PLs (Third-Party Logistics providers) for their worldwide fulfillment needs. Whether you choose a 3PL with fulfillment centers across the globe, one offering excellent international shipping rates, or even different fulfillment companies on various continents, utilising a 3PL can bring several advantages: 

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Cost-Effective Shipping

Having inventory strategically located close to your target market enables you to minimise shipping expenses. By reducing the distance a package travels, you can take advantage of lower shipping zones, especially within the US.

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Meeting Delivery Expectations

Besides cost savings, storing inventory near your end customers and shipping from nearby locations significantly reduces transit times. This means international orders can reach customers much faster, helping you meet delivery time expectations.

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Efficient Inventory Management

Managing inventory across multiple fulfillment centers to cater to international customers requires proper visibility into inventory tracking. A reputable 3PL offers this capability, allowing you to monitor stock levels effectively and ensure adequate product availability at each location for accurate inventory accounting.

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Reduced Shipping Errors

As your business experiences rapid growth, fulfilling international orders can become challenging to keep up with. Under tight resources and time constraints, hastily packing boxes may lead to more errors. These mistakes in international orders can result in unhappy customers and costly returns.

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Streamlined Scalability

When you opt for an international fulfillment solution through a 3PL, you eliminate the need to invest in your infrastructure and facilities. Leveraging the 3PL's network of fulfillment centers enables you to scale your operations effortlessly. You won't have to worry about hiring an additional workforce to keep up with or expand your business.

By partnering with a reliable 3PL, your eCommerce business can enjoy these benefits, making global fulfillment a smoother and more efficient process. 

Why Partner with I-Fulfilment?

I-Fulfilment is a premier international fulfillment provider with proprietary technology at the heart of its operations. We offer comprehensive global end-to-end eCommerce 3PL services, catering to B2C and B2B orders.  

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Advanced Fulfillment Software 

BladePRO's shipping optimisation software is an essential tool for businesses aiming to cut operational costs and elevate the customer experience. By intelligently streamlining logistics and automating clunky manual processes, significant cost savings are achieved. What truly sets BladePRO apart is its dynamic ability to select the best shipping service based on real-time product/SKU data, ensuring timely and cost-effective deliveries. This gives businesses an edge by providing real-time tracking updates, lower costs and improving delivery time, all boosting customer satisfaction. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, leveraging such software not only drives down expenses but also fosters customer trust, promoting repeat business and stronger brand loyalty.

Global Shipping Networks

I-Fulfilment has established partnerships with trusted international carriers and logistics providers. We leverage these networks to offer a range of shipping options, including express delivery, economy shipping, and trackable services, to meet diverse customer needs.

International Fulfillment Service

We offer international fulfillment services that maintain consistent quality and efficiency across various countries. Our services remain standardised across all locations, from warehousing and picking to packing, kitting, and more. In addition, I-Fulfilment provides a diverse range of outsourced value-add services, including marketplace management, customer service, and reworking services.

Fulfillment Center for Enhanced Reach

With warehouses strategically positioned across key regions, we offer brand partners unparalleled access to global markets. I-Fulfilment handled over 500,000 orders worldwide. With fulfillment center facilities in the UK, Germany, and the USA, they are in a strategic and competent position to meet the requirements of the increasing demands of eCommerce. Looking forward, I-Fulfilment intends to expand its global footprint – exploring Australia while doubling the facilities in both the UK and the USA.

Getting in touch

At I-Fulfilment, we understand that every business is unique and has specific international fulfillment and scalability requirements. That’s why we offer tailored solutions to meet the diverse needs of our brand partners. Whether you’re an eCommerce business looking to expand globally or a B2B enterprise seeking efficient order processing, our experienced team is ready to assist you. 

Contact us to learn more about our international fulfillment services and how we can support your global growth. 

I-Fulfillment Team