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An e-commerce supply chain for the worldwide stage

A businessperson relaxes at a table with a laptop and coffee.

Optimizing for the global consumer

Customs and other cross-border shipping issues can create challenges in getting products to global customers. With expert guidance, retailers can navigate a shipping strategy that makes the e-commerce fulfillment experience seamless for customers around the block and around the world.

For the first time in the history of retailing, billions of consumers around the globe have access to products in markets all over the world. That access is granted by the digital devices held in their laps and in the palms of their hands. Thriving middle class shoppers from China, the U.K., Germany, Japan, France, and countless other countries are hungry for commodities they simply can't procure in their local markets. They're finding those commodities on your Web site. Are you ready and willing to sell to them?

While the global commerce opportunity doesn't come without challenges, it's also ripe with reward. Global market research firm Euromonitor expects global e-commerce sales to hit $1.5 trillion by 2018, up from $840 billion in 2014. UPS® is projecting global e-commerce to grow between 10 percent and 15 percent over the next 5 to 10 years. While domestic retail e-commerce will continue to outgrow GDP, UPS expects cross-border e-commerce to grow even faster, at more than 25 percent over the next 5 to 6 years. Still, many domestic e-commerce brands tend to shy away from the opportunity. They're daunted by an obstacle-laden labyrinth of challenges including:

  • Customs, brokerage, and tax laws.
  • The nuances of market-specific postal codes and payment tenders.
  • The assurance of a timely and secure customer fulfillment experience.

With these challenges in mind, many successful domestic retail brands choose to effectively ignore the clamor of consumer demand from beyond their own borders.

But hungry global consumers won't be denied. Where one retailer sees unsolvable problems, another sees opportunity to delight lucrative new markets full of eager customers. To compete in the e-commerce globalization race, merchants need to address cross-border fulfillment challenges head-on.

Customized logistics for global commodities

Should global market demand be denied because of the complexities associated with cross-border retailing? Not when market-specific logistics can be automated with the help of a trusted logistics partner. UPS is putting its unmatched global shipping expertise to work to solve cross-border shipping challenges for some of the world's best retail brands. UPS is helping those brands enter global markets profitably through:

  • Deep analysis of the global consumer appetite for specific merchandise.
  • Price point analysis/adjustment in the context of market demand and shipping cost and complexity.
  • Automation of global and market-specific customs, brokerage, currency, tax, and postal code logistics.

With the aid of an expert shipping partner, complex logistics barriers become mere mechanics. What sets your shipping partner apart from the competition is the business logic, personal consultancy, and consumer assurance it offers to ensure your penetration of new global markets is a profitable endeavor.

Another differentiator is found in the professional guidance and tools your shipping partner makes available to optimize the global consumer's fulfillment experience.

The last mile: control to the global consumer

From the global shopper's perspective, your acceptance of payment for an e-commerce order is just the first in a series of interactions that instill confidence in—and loyalty to—your brand. It's meeting the foreign shopper's fulfillment desires that really matters, and those desires are highly situational.

The annual Pulse of the Online Shopper™ survey conducted by UPS and comScore reveals that cross-border consumers are willing to wait for their purchases. The 61 percent of European consumers claiming they're willing to wait an additional four days or more for free shipping on international orders, for instance, illustrates that the customer's delivery expectation for international orders is reasonable. However, these consumers place a high value on delivery control and visibility:

  • Only 41 percent of European consumers are satisfied with their post-shipment flexibility to choose another delivery date.
  • Just 35 percent are satisfied with their ability to reroute a parcel.
  • A full 65 percent say provision of an estimated or guaranteed delivery date is important.
  • 43 percent of shoppers report that post-delivery customer satisfaction hinges on whether their items were delivered on time.

Clearly, the consumer's desire for fulfillment visibility and flexibility knows no boundaries. UPS developed My Choice®for the U.S. market in 2011 to ensure orders are delivered at the consumer's convenience and their shipping progress visible en route. The offering has been expanded to reach online shoppers in 15 additional North American and European countries. International consumers can use UPS My Choice to:

  • Receive automated, retail-branded shipping alerts via smartphone and/or proactive e-mail notifications,
  • Reschedule deliveries for a future date,
  • Reroute deliveries to another address,
  • Reroute deliveries to one of the 19,000 and growing UPS Access Point® locations.

UPS Access Point is a collaborative program offered in conjunction with local retailers around the globe. When unable to deliver a package at a consumer's residence, the customer can instruct UPS drivers to leave the package at a participating UPS Access Point location near the consumer's delivery address, allowing them to pick up their items at their own convenience.

But order fulfillment isn't always the end game for global e-commerce logistics. International customers also need returns options, and the aforementioned UPS/comScore survey proves it. A full 81 percent of European consumers said the ability to ship a product back to the retailer for free, using a pre-paid return label, is important in their purchase decision. UPS offers the consumer convenience of international returns services in more than 145 countries and territories, helping retailers increase their competitive advantage, grow and delight their global customer bases, and boost loyalty and return sales.

In the new age of global commerce, leading companies will combine the global scale of their brands with excellence at the local execution of order fulfillment. UPS is equipped with the people and the analytical tools to help navigate the world of opportunity that new global markets present—from payment acceptance and reconciliation to timely order fulfillment and returns.

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