Dan Ennor, Commercial Director at Global Freight Solutions

With the future uncertain for British retailers looking ahead to a post-Brexit world, brands need to consider what they can do to ensure that they not only survive in the new environment, but thrive in it. These are exciting yet potentially testing times for retail SMEs, as Brexit represents a great opportunity for those who get it right, and a risk for those who are ill-prepared.

Due to globalisation, the world of e-commerce is moving away from the western world, with 84% of ecommerce sales now coming from outside the US and Europe. The tariffs, borders and duties that Brexit will enforce across the EU will make trading more challenging and less profitable for UK-based retailers, which is why it’s important that businesses differentiate their income revenues and start to build an action plan for expansion; to tap into these booming, emerging marketplaces.

GFS offers a practical, four-point action plan for delivery to help retailers mitigate the risk of Brexit and accelerate international e-commerce growth.

  1. Use technology that enables seamless multi-channel dispatch

It’s no coincidence that the fastest growing e-commerce businesses are those that have a clearly defined multi-channel approach that is fit for purpose. However, for the unprepared retail SME, shipping and dispatching across multiple channels will add time, cost and complexity for their operations if they are unable to bring all of this into one system. There are several factors that need to be streamlined, including labelling and dispatch across multiple marketplaces and multiple carriers. This is where the importance of technology comes into play, as it enables organisations to expand their list of services efficiently, rather than being inhibitive. If the technology is deployed properly, it should integrate with existing systems and offer flexible delivery options.

  1. Make delivery customer-centric by offering customers choice


Customer expectations of the brands they engage with have changed. They now have a sense of what a good customer experience looks like, and with the vast amount of options now available, if reality doesn’t meet their expectations, they can easily take their custom elsewhere. Research from Statista shows that 16% of cart abandonment in the USA takes place because the delivery options are unsuitable. This demonstrates why it’s so important for companies to offer the widest choice possible at the checkout, letting customers choose the delivery option that best suits them. Delivery options also need to be backed up with ongoing communication so the customer knows exactly where their parcel is at any given time. Since working with GFS, UK retailer Mamas&Papas has seen their cart abandonment rates reduced dramatically, with a 15% increase on speed of dispatch leading to a 10% increase in customer satisfaction.

  1. Increase efficiency by adopting an enterprise-wide carrier management approach across the business

Delivery is such a vital component of how a retailer operates because it touches on multiple areas across a business – website, finance, IT, warehouse, and customer care. Having an integrated set of Enterprise Carrier Management (ECM) tools in place across those areas will give greater control and efficiency across delivery operations and carrier management. This means while retailers are trying to grow and scale their business across different channels & continents, they can do so with greater ease and efficiency. Enterprise carrier management allows for a wider approach to customer delivery that incorporates shipping expertise and global knowledge.

  1. Choose the right delivery partner to exploit global growth

Most retailers are excited at the prospect of hitting new markets, and don’t need much convincing to do so, but they will need expert help to guide them through the duties, customs issues, taxes and most importantly selecting the array of delivery options that are culturally and practically right for that market.

By outsourcing to a global carrier expert, not only do companies benefit from the advice and expertise of the carrier expert, but it takes the burden of managing delivery away from them and puts it on someone else, allowing them to concentrate on selling more products, selling into more channels and markets. This enables retailers to be single-minded in their pursuit of profit.

It’s a win-win situation for retailers: they receive all the benefits of having a carrier partner who can offer their expertise, whilst also having a close relationship with that partner. For instance, with the ‘One-GFS’ relationship, retailers get single access to all of GFS’ services at rates that wouldn’t usually be possible when dealing with multiple carriers at once. This allows the smaller retailers to deliver internationally, but without the overheads typically associated with the process. As a result, international growth becomes affordable to SMEs.