With the rise of e-commerce and the shipping standards set by Amazon, customers now have rising expectations on global delivery. Retailers and couriers are embracing this challenge, using automation and technology to make supply chain logistics faster, easier, and compatible with the 21st century.
Even in the past five years, the logistics landscape has evolved rapidly as a handful of trends took hold. These changes greatly improve supply chain logistics and help organizations keep up with the growing demand of e-commerce.
- Client notification. Express couriers are reducing the amount of failed deliveries by sending SMS notifications to customers, asking them to choose the best timeframe for delivery. This is also a clear win for the customer, since they are given more flexibility over when they can get their packages delivered.
- Direct integration between couriers and customs departments. Couriers are getting a lot more tech savvy. In the past, cross-border shipments required a lot of paperwork, with couriers having to provide paper manifests and customs officers having to do manual data entry. Fast forward to today, where couriers can now use a customs department’s application programming interface (API) to speed up the clearance process by generating required documents and manifests with all the information included.
- Tax & duty visibility. In the past, businesses had a hard time calculating and displaying important tax & duty information to the customer. Now, businesses can integrate various tools with their website to automatically display these costs. When customers are able to see all additional costs up front, they are less likely to abandon their shopping carts.
- Decreased minimum order requirements for warehouses. The minimum orders needed to use a warehouse have gone down drastically, making warehouses more accessible to small businesses and newer brands. Now, these brands can place stock in multiple warehouses so they can reach customers anywhere, faster.
- Delivery with duties paid (DDP). E-commerce sellers are savvier when it comes to pre-paying customs duties; in fact, our company saw three times more DDP shipments in 2017, compared to 2016. By collecting duties upfront, sellers avoid customs having to contact the customer, which can trigger additional fees if customers are slow to settle their payment. DDP makes shipping seamless, resulting in a more positive customer experience.
- Direct injection solutions. Small businesses no longer have to put in expensive bulk orders that meet the minimum requirement to fit an ocean container. With direct injection, smaller, individual orders can be sent via air freight and can go through express customs clearance, speeding up the fulfillment process from months to days.
Worldwide cross-border e-commerce is predicted to have explosive growth throughout the end of the decade, so I am excited to see how the industry will innovate in the next five years to keep up with demand.