Want to know the latest GFS news and blogs?

Get insight into eCommerce and consumer trends plus opinion and advice for optimising order fulfilment, despatch and delivery.

See what we’ve been up to and read about us in the press, plus also get information about fuel surcharges, carrier schedules and more.

Selling to the EU just got easier and cheaper…

Since leaving the EU, new customs rules have disrupted deliveries to Europe, with vast numbers of parcels being delayed, refused or returned to sender. And just as the dust is starting to settle, on 1st July the €22 VAT threshold (De Minimis) exemption on goods imported to the EU will be removed.

This means that ALL commercial goods imported to the EU will be subject to VAT – regardless of value.

Find out the EU Import Customs Requirements

So, what does this mean?

• VAT has to be charged based on the customer’s location
• VAT has to be declared for customs clearance
• VAT returns have to be submitted

You might be thinking that this just makes shipping to the EU even more complex than it already is.

BUT there are ways you can make it easier, here’s how…

Selling to the EU thumbnail

Since leaving the EU, new customs rules have disrupted deliveries to Europe, with vast numbers of parcels being delayed, refused or returned to sender. And just as the dust is starting to settle, on 1st July the €22 VAT threshold (De Minimis) exemption on goods imported to the EU will be removed.

This means that ALL commercial goods imported to the EU will be subject to VAT – regardless of value.

Find out the EU Import Customs Requirements

So, what does this mean?

If you ship to the EU, it means you will need to:

• Collect VAT at the checkout based on the consumer’s location
• Declare VAT for customs clearance
• Submit VAT returns

You might be thinking that this just makes shipping to the EU even more complex than it already is.

BUT there are ways you can make it easier, here’s how…

1. Import One Stop Shop (IOSS)

The EU is introducing an electronic portal where you can register to get a single VAT IOSS ID number that applies to distance sales in all 27 EU countries. This will enable you to collect, declare and account for VAT and pay your bill directly to the EU Tax Authorities via a periodic tax return – for goods up to the value of €150*.

This will simplify the collection, declaration, and payment of VAT for distance sales to EU customers and potentially avoid additional carrier fees for VAT clearance.

What are the key benefits of the new IOSS?

• Ease and simplicity: You’ll get a single EU IOSS VAT ID number that will cover VAT registration in all of the 27 EU member states
• A positive experience for customers: Customers will have complete VAT cost transparency at the moment of purchase
• Improved cash flow: VAT payments can be made monthly directly to EU tax authorities

What else do you need to know? Read our FAQs for more information

FAQs

2. Duty Deferment Account

A Duty Deferment Account allows you to postpone payment of customs duty, excise duty and VAT by up to 46 days so you can pay fees for all shipments once a month by Direct Debit rather than per consignment at the point of import.

This will help shipments clear customs quickly, so parcels can be delivered faster, and it will also save you time and money and help you better manage cash flow.

You can apply for a Duty Deferment Account here

3. One Stop Shop Delivery and Returns

As well as the Import One Stop Shop for VAT, GFS can provide everything you need for delivery and returns!

From finding the best and most cost-effective international shipping services, to technology that calculates Duties & Taxes, generates electronic Customs documents and manages paperless global returns – you can get everything you need in one place!

GFS International eCommerce Service

Access the widest network of global carriers through just one dynamic delivery service.

Using super-smart routing technology, we route each parcel to the best performing, cost-effective carrier service. So, all you need to do is choose from 1 of 3 service level options – Express, Plus and Economy – and we do the rest!

find out more

GFS Technology

A complete toolkit of technology solutions that simplifies the complexity of new EU customs processes to take away the pain of cross-border delivery.

Download Ebook
Download Ebook

GFS Checkout

  • Offers customers a wide range of flexible delivery options at the checkout
  • Automatically calculate Duties & Taxes and supports DDU (Deliver Duty Unpaid) and DDP (Deliver Duty Paid) delivery options

GFS Selector

  • Multi-carrier parcel labelling with automatically generated tracking
  • With Paperless Trade for electronic customs documentation

GFS Global Returns

  • Paperless returns portal with 200+ returns services, 320,000 drop points and 35 languages
  • Electronic customs declarations for inbound duty relief

Want to see our Technology in action? Watch our live demo!

international shipping webinar thumbnail
Watch the Webinar

We’re on a mission to make EU selling easier than ever.

For help and advice on shipping to the EU and beyond – Contact us to find out more!

contact us

2021-05-19T09:40:59+00:00May 11th, 2021|

Life After Lockdown

What will your customers want from online delivery & returns?

It’s time to close the gap…

eCommerce growth is on the rise – in fact, it’s estimated that online shopping will account for 30% of all retail purchases by 2024*, and the recent Covid19 pandemic has only accelerated this growth.

But now is not the time to rest on your laurels. Yes, eCommerce is booming but as we come out of lockdown and customers begin to leave the house, competition will be fierce, and consumers will expect more flexibility and convenience as workers return to offices, children return to schools and busy lives return to normal.

Research shows time and again that, last-mile delivery and returns options directly influence consumers’ decisions to purchase – and purchase again.

According to our Consumer Home Delivery Review with IMRG, almost HALF of all consumers have abandoned a cart because the delivery options on offer weren’t convenient. When it comes to returns, the stakes are even higher with 73% of consumers stating in the recent survey by ZigZag that they would not buy again from a retailer after a bad returns experience.

Retailers who think a ‘one size fits all’ approach to delivery and returns is good enough, do so at their own peril as not only can it end the purchase before the customer has even clicked ‘add to basket’, but it will almost certainly diminish the likelihood of them buying again.

Furthermore, the consumer is not discerning whether they are buying online via your website or from a marketplace – they expect to have the same seamless delivery and returns experience every time, regardless of where they buy from.

It’s clear there is still a very big gap between what consumers expect and want from their online delivery and returns experience – and, what they actually experience.

A Good Delivery Experience = Sales Success!

The convenience of online shopping has piled pressure on retailers to meet (and exceed) ever-more-demanding consumer expectations. Delivery and returns have become key to helping brands stand out and differentiate themselves against competitors – especially on online marketplaces where consumers will directly compare retailers on the same site.

It can feel like there’s a race to the finish line with delivery – it’s either got to be lightning fast or completely free. But you can offer customers something more and something better. What customers really want is convenience and choice. They are looking to have the flexibility to choose the delivery service that causes the least disruption in their day to day lives, whether this be next day, a specific time or day or click and collect at a range of price options – especially as life is set to get busier after Lockdown 3.0.

Offering a choice of delivery options at the checkout can be the difference between a customer completing a sale or abandoning it altogether as 45% of customers say they will abandon a purchase if there is a lack of convenient delivery options**.

It’s also important to give customers transparency as 70% of consumers said the ability to track orders was one of their top three considerations when buying a product online***.

Shine a light on any delivery blind spots by providing consistent notifications and live updates on the progress of their delivery, including if there are any anticipated delays. Letting your customer know in advance prevents the inconvenience of them having to contact you, which also cuts down on the number of inbound customer queries.

The delivery experience doesn’t just affect the first sale, but also repeat sales. 60% of customers would buy again from a retailer if they had a good delivery experience**, proving that getting delivery right can increase customer loyalty and help you grow your business.

Don’t Leave Returns Behind….

As many retailers focus on the importance of delivery, returns continue to be a bit of an afterthought. Yes, they are frustrating and costly but there is a common misconception that making returns too easy can lead to ‘serial returns’ behaviour. However, some 42% of shoppers have returned something in the last 6 months,* so there really is no getting away from returns.

If we think about this differently, a poor returns experience not only prevents future returns but future sales too. And with so many returns taking place on a daily basis, just think how many potential sales that could be if you make the returns process a great one.

78% of consumers consider the quality of a returns service when choosing where to shop and 85% of consumers have a preference of how they would like to make a return^.

Your returns policy can give customers confidence to buy for the first time, while a good returns experience gains trust, repeat purchases and long-term customer loyalty.

In fact, 92% of shoppers who have received a good returns experience make repeat purchases^.

But what are customers looking for when it comes to returns?

With more technology at their fingertips and less time to spare – consumers need returns to be speedy, convenient and simple. Prioritising returns in your day-to-day operations will help save time, money and effort in the long run. The more coherent, time efficient and flexible you can be for your consumers, the more confident they will be to make that repeat purchase.

80% of customers also want confirmation that their parcel has been received for transparency over when they will get their refund or new item^. Companies must adapt to this level of communication and upgrade their technology for consistent and reliable tracking.

How Can Retailers Provide A Seamless Delivery & Returns Experience?

Perfecting the delivery experience isn’t easy, especially during and after a pandemic when customer expectations can shift dramatically from one day to the next. That’s why it’s going to be important to provide the flexibility of a wide range of delivery options with accurate and consistent delivery updates and simple returns – all without additional cost.

Multi-carrier delivery really is at the heart of the solution. Having multiple carriers and delivery services at your fingertips gives you the breadth of service and flexibility to offer customers the choice and convenience they’ve come to expect – as well the contingency to switch services if you need to.

But managing multiple suppliers, and having multiple technologies, can create operational complexity.

At GFS, we take away this pressure by offering access to 1000+ carrier services, all in one place, which means one invoice, one technology platform and one single relationship. With access to the expertise and the technology you need to give your customers choice and transparency, you can perfect the final mile and give your customers the positive experience they’re searching for – now and in the future.

Want to see how you can beat the competition and boost sales conversions at the checkout with delivery and returns?

Join our webinar “Close the gap on the customer delivery & returns experience” at 11am on the 29th of April to find out:

  • Top 5 insights from the latest research on what consumers expect from delivery and returns
  • What a ‘best-practice’ delivery & returns experience looks like
  • Building the right mix of delivery options and technology tools to solve the problem
  • Seeing this in practice – a live demo of a seamless customer delivery and returns experience

* https://www.retail-insight-network.com/features/uk-online-shopping-growth/

** – GFS/IMRG Consumer Home Delivery Report 2019/20

*** – Global eCommerce Consumer Research Report, 2020

^ – ZigZag Global Returns Study, 2020

see differently and sell more illustrative meme
see differently and make your job easier illustrative meme
2021-05-11T09:23:00+00:00April 8th, 2021|

Easter Carrier Schedule

 DHL ExpressDHL ParcelDPDDPD LocalDX FreightHermesPantherTuffnells
Thursday
1st April
Normal service Normal service Normal service Normal service Normal service Normal service Normal service Normal service
Good Friday
2nd April
(Bank holiday)
ClosedClosedClosedClosedNo ServicePre Approved Collections - Normal Delivery ServiceDeliveries OnlyClosed
Saturday
3rd April
ClosedNormal Saturday DeliveriesNormal Saturday DeliveriesNormal Saturday DeliveriesNo ServiceNormal service Saturday Deliveries OnlyClosed
Easter Sunday
4th April
ClosedClosedClosedClosedNo ServicePre Approved Collections OnlyClosedClosed
Easter Monday
5th
(Bank holiday)
ClosedClosedClosedClosedNo ServicePre Approved Collections OnlyDeliveries OnlyClosed
Tuesday
6th April
Normal serviceNormal serviceNormal serviceNormal serviceNormal serviceNormal service Normal service Normal service
2021-05-11T09:28:11+00:00March 19th, 2021|

Do You See Delivery Differently?

Customer expectations and buying behaviours are always evolving, with more sales channels available, shorter delivery timeframes expected and new technologies, eCommerce never stands still. This has only been accelerated by the Coronavirus pandemic, with more people buying more online than ever. This is a good thing as it means never-ending opportunities for your business to grow. However, this also brings fierce competition and operational pressures and challenges. How are customers currently rating your delivery and returns capabilities? How can you de-risk and protect delivery? Are you using multiple carriers? The likelihood is that you are, which is great! But this usually also means multiple printers, numerous label formats and countless hours of administration. And that’s not all. There are also various technology integrations to manage, which often results in a disjointed and fragmented view of your overall operation. There is an easier way – it’s time to see delivery differently.

Increase sales everywhere

Growing your business financially and geographically is no easy feat. First you need to meet and exceed the expectations of your customers domestically, then you have to identify and fulfil the requirements of customers abroad too. The businesses that will see significant growth and success, will be those that truly understand what their customers want, and have the operational flexibility and agility to scale and adapt along the way.

When it comes to delivery, giving customers what they want really comes down to choice. It’s almost impossible to satisfy the needs of every single customer, and what one person might expect from delivery will be different to another. With the right multi-carrier approach, you can offer the breadth and range of delivery options needed to give customers the power to choose for themselves. This is what will help you meet and exceed customer expectations, no matter what they may be, to make you the first-choice retailer every time.

Make warehouse operations easier

eCommerce businesses are under increasing pressure to make online shopping, and delivery, as easy and convenient as possible, almost to the point where it’s not possible at all. This, along with the hike in demand, only adds to the strain on operational staff and the ‘do-ers’ within the business to maintain service levels. But, there is a way to work smarter and more efficiently.

By unifying multiple carriers into a single multi-carrier platform and automating previously manual tasks, your warehouse staff can immediately free-up time and maximise their capabilities – enabling them to consistently protect service levels. What was once a frightfully complex process is now a simple and effective procedure – enabling the scalability to grow in line with your business’ and customers’ requirements. By combining the best in services, technology, and industry expertise, you can maximise your staff and operations to handle any growth or peak period.

Joined-up multi-carrier management

At GFS, we combine our expertise and services with innovative technology to help you turn your multi-carrier processes into your competitive advantage. Our innovative solutions enable you to provide customers with delivery and returns options that make their buying decisions easier and more frequent, and we help streamline and simplify your delivery operations across the globe.

So, if you want to see delivery differently and thrive in this ever-changing world, pick one of the topics below to find out more…

see differently and sell more illustrative meme
see differently and make your job easier illustrative meme
2021-05-11T09:29:08+00:00February 11th, 2021|

See Delivery Differently and Sell More

Did you know that according to IMRG, lack of choice of delivery is the 2nd highest reason for cart abandonment, after cost of purchase?

This just shows how many sales are lost because of delivery – but it’s an easy thing to put right!

There’s a common misconception in online retail that consumers want delivery that’s fast or free.

But in our experience, retailers that offer a wide choice of delivery see around 16% more basket conversions! It all comes down to convenience…

How can your delivery help your customers buy more easily and more frequently?

Put your customer in the driver’s seat

It’s simple, give your customers the power to choose!

Remember one size doesn’t fit all, some customers like to choose a specific day, or a time, or Click & Collect, and customer preferences can change order to order.

The trick is to make sure that delivery doesn’t cause customers to think twice, and to remove any reasons why a customer might abandon their cart. Offering a range of delivery options means the customer can personally select the one that’s most convenient for them, so they can buy confidently, easily and more frequently.

How can you simplify cross-border shipping and expand global sales?

There is plenty of opportunity for global growth, but one thing is for sure, shipping cross-border isn’t straightforward, especially now that we’ve left the EU. Complex customs processes, high shipping costs and lack of local knowledge can all put businesses off from actively targeting to customers overseas. If this is you, there is an easier way.

Using one multi-carrier delivery provider puts you in the unique position of having access to knowledge and expertise of the entire carrier market worldwide, so they can recommend the best carrier services for you and support you in understanding cross-border regulations. This will take the hard work out of cross-border delivery, helping you to ship to new countries easily and cost-effectively.

Equally, many consumers hesitate to buy from sellers abroad due to concerns around shipping times, costs and customs charges. You might want to consider a DDP (Deliver Duty Paid) option or a Duties & Taxes calculator to show customers the full cost of any additional customs charges. This will give customers peace of mind from the outset so they have confidence to buy, no matter where they are in the world.

Go paperless with returns

78% of consumers look at the returns policy when choosing where to shop, so it’s clear that returns can have as much of an impact on sales as delivery. If consumers are unsure about a returns policy they’re unlikely to take a risk and will shop elsewhere.

Paperless returns are quickly becoming the industry standard and it’s easy to see why. It’s the easiest way to offer customers a wider range of returns services, including exchange options, to for greater flexibility and convenience. It also allows for faster refunds, because you can see what items are being returned and why, before they arrive back at goods in. All of this creates a smooth and seamless customer experience that keeps customers coming back for more.

Helping eCommerce businesses see success

At GFS, we combine our expertise and services with innovative technology to help you turn your multi-carrier approach into your competitive advantage. We can help you streamline and simplify your delivery operations to meet the needs of customers across the globe – and empower you to sell more.

To test your current readiness and capabilities, take one of our quizzes now…

international markets
Your shipping and despatch
2021-05-11T09:47:24+00:00February 11th, 2021|

See Delivery Differently and Make Your Job Easier

We all want to work for a successful, growing business. But with growth comes pressure to fulfil demand, with ever-changing customer expectations, sales channels and international regulations, which only adds to operational complexity. There’s also the added challenge of ensuring you have effective contingency plans to deal with peak periods or times of unexpected change. Efficiency is critical to ensure you can scale to sustain this growth long-term. But how can you keep delivery simple, when it only seems to be getting more complicated?

Multiple carriers shouldn’t mean multiple technologies

To get the range of delivery options you need to meet the needs of your customers, you’ve likely opted to use multiple carriers for shipping. But this means you may be dealing with multiple printers, labels and processes. You might also have various technology integrations to deal with, which crucially results in a disjointed and fragmented view of your overall operation.

So, what’s the best plan? The answer is simple – embrace multi-carrier technology. By consolidating all your carriers into a single multi-carrier platform, you still get all the advantages of multi-carrier shipping, but you can despatch all your parcels through one system. This offers one centralised system which will streamline your processes so you can do things faster, increase the productivity of your warehouse staff and free up precious man-hours to focus on more business-critical tasks.

Support global growth with expert support

Shipping internationally presents many operational challenges – what are the best carriers and most cost-effective services for each market? What customs duties need to be paid? Are there specific trade regulations to consider? It’s fair to say cross-border delivery isn’t easy!

Especially now that we’ve left the EU, eCommerce businesses should be prepared for continued disruption and changes to cross-border trade. Carriers have reported delays at the borders and have been known to switch services on/off at the drop of a hat. A global multi-carrier delivery partner can help you stay abreast of regulatory developments as they happen, and offer industry insight, breadth of service and technology automation to take the hard work out of cross-border delivery.

Have a ‘Plan B’ when you need it most

Peak is the busiest, and most lucrative, event in the eCommerce calendar. But it takes a lot of work behind the scenes to make it happen. Lots of customers depend on you, and your carriers, to get their orders to them on time.

While you can do everything possible to plan and prepare, if we’ve learnt anything in recent times, it’s that we never know what’s round the corner. What’s your plan when things go wrong? Can you switch carriers quickly and easily? Can you get extra vehicle capacity if orders overtake your forecasts? Do you know what other options are available to you?

At GFS, we combine our expertise with innovative technology to help you streamline your multi-carrier approach, maximise your resources and give you contingency, both at peak times and throughout the rest of the year. From the latest tech to global capabilities, we’ve got your back.

To test your current readiness and capabilities, take one of our quizzes now…

e commerce delivery
international markets
2021-05-11T09:48:51+00:00February 11th, 2021|

Gearing up your eCommerce delivery for success in 2021

Gearing up your eCommerce delivery for success in 2021

Covid, Brexit, Peak – it’s fair to say 2020 was an eventful year with some big lessons learnt.

The first being that you never know what’s around the corner, and as we continue to live with Covid and get to grips with life after Brexit, we’re starting off 2021 looking ahead to a future that’s as unpredictable as ever.

2020 was massive for eCommerce. As consumers were forced to step away from the high street for the first time, eCommerce reigned supreme with consumers shopping online more than ever before.

In fact, in the UK 30% of all retail sales were online, compared to 20% in 2019. So it’s clear that Covid has accelerated eCommerce growth faster than anyone was prepared for. This really tested the resilience of retailer supply chains. Retailers and carriers were left with a bottleneck of delays, struggling to deliver orders to customers and fulfil demand.

And now we’ve entered Lockdown 3.0, and we’ve finally left the EU too, who knows what this year will bring.

The retailers that will not just survive, but really thrive this year, will be those that have taken heed of what they’ve learnt from 2020 and built the necessary contingency and agility into their delivery operation to adapt to ongoing change.

So, what can we learn from 2020 and how can you continue to deliver a consistent customer delivery experience no matter what?

1. Switch to a single multi-carrier partner

At the beginning of lockdown, carriers were overwhelmed, running over-capacity most days, and if this happens, it means they can stop collections and refuse parcels. At Christmas, carriers were operating at 90%+ capacity on most days, even 100% at times. This is not uncommon, and we see this often during peak sales periods. On the other hand, we’ve even seen major carriers go into administration at crucial times of the year.

If your carriers come up against any problems, your parcels can’t go anywhere, which just creates a traffic jam of customer orders and a cycle of delays. A single multi-carrier partner can help you easily switch carrier services if you need to, without any new contracts or integration work, so you know you always have a plan B.

It’s also the easiest way to give customers the choice and convenience they seek. 45% of customers will abandon their cart if there is a lack of delivery options. Using a multi-carrier partner gives you instant access to a wide range of options, such as same day, next day, nominated day or click and collect, all in one place so customers can choose convenience every time.

2. Streamline processes with a single multi-carrier technology platform

It’s important to protect your business from the inside out by streamlining internal systems and processes to maximise efficiencies and productivity. Just as you can consolidate your carrier services with a single multi-carrier partner, you can do the same with your despatch software.

Multi-carrier software gives you control and visibility of all parcels across all carriers to all destinations, so you can label, ship, track and trace orders all with a single integration and process.

Not only can give yourself in-the-moment flexibility and switch carrier services quickly and easily, but you can future-proof delivery and add new carrier services without any heavy integration work or additional costs. So, no matter what happens, you can adapt delivery at any time to meet the needs of your customers, operational capacity, delivery performance, budget – and avert a potential crisis too.

3. Prepare for the Brexit effect

While the UK has now left the EU and the beginnings of a trade agreement have been announced, we still have a long way to go. eCommerce businesses have to be prepared for continued change and disruption to cross-border trade, and in particular, shipments to/from the EU.
We’ve seen this already this year, with some carriers temporarily suspending some services to the EU due to delays at our ports and borders.

If you have a large customer-base in the EU, or have plans to expand to Europe, check you have all the required information and documentation. Shipping to the EU now requires a Customs Declaration plus evidence of the country of origin, as well as an EORI number. You may also wish to open a Duty Deferment account so you parcels can pass through customs quickly and smoothly.

Additionally, moving part of your fulfilment operation to the EU could help you avoid the cost and complexity of border controls and customs documentation altogether. This means your suppliers can deliver to your EU warehouse or fulfilment centre, and you can deliver from this location directly to your EU customers for faster shipping and a more seamless delivery experience. This will reduce the risk of delays and costs, as well as provide a base to continue growing your business in EU countries.

An expert global delivery partner will keep you updated with Brexit developments as they happen and proactively support you in implementing process changes in advance, so you’re always prepared to continue servicing your EU customers with minimal disruption.

4. Improve Returns Efficiency

As lockdown boosted home delivery, this inevitably also led to an increase in returns.

But returns have a direct impact on the bottom line – in fact they cost UK retailers a whopping £60bn a year! (ZigZag, 2020)

With 89% of consumers checking the returns policy before making a purchase (UPS – “Pulse of the Online Shopper), retailers can’t afford to leave returns to chance. But retailers will need to manage the customer experience with operational cost – and this all comes down to efficiency.

A paperless returns portal (like GFS Global Returns Pro) can help you give customers the choice of returns options they’re looking for to clinch the sale. Electronic returns also offer better visibility of what’s being returned and why, so returns can be processed faster and goods can be returned to stock faster to help recover costs more quickly.

Make 2021 your year!

eCommerce is booming and as we enter another national lockdown, we’re expecting to see volumes soar again.

So while there’s plenty of demand, the challenge will be in ensuring your delivery operation is robust enough to fulfil this demand, from checkout to doorstep and back again, so you can secure every sale and give customers the confidence you’ll deliver every time they order again.

While customers were understanding of the longer transit times in lockdown 1.0, almost a year on consumer patience is wearing thin and the retailers that come out on top will be those that have taken the opportunity to build contingency into their supply chains.

GFS is here to offer you support and contingency whenever you need it. As one of the biggest buyers of carriage in the UK, we can offer instant access to 1000+ different global carrier services, plus our scale and influence means we find solutions fast. Whether this be escalating parcel exceptions, finding extra vehicle capacity or switching carrier services entirely – we can help you run business as usual, day after day, no matter what.

Click here to see how we could help you build your contingency plan in 2021.

Join us for our latest webinar with Tamebay: Gearing up your eCommerce Delivery for success in 2021

We’re coming out of our bunkers to see how eCommerce delivery survived the tsunami of Peak, Brexit and COVID – and to ask ourselves, what on earth happened and, most importantly, how do you gear up your eCommerce delivery for success in 2021?

Find out by registering for our webinar at 11am on Wednesday 27th January 2021!

Register Now
2021-05-11T10:08:45+00:00January 8th, 2021|

Key Pieces of Technology

What are the key pieces of technology needed for a multi-carrier delivery operation?

Make your shipping easy with multi-carrier technology

Thanks to customers’ continuous demand for choice and convenience (in both delivery and returns) you need to be operating at an optimum level. Add to this, the growing numbers of online marketplaces, omnichannel retail, and the need to provide in-flight delivery options, and it’s clear you need to be going above and beyond like never before. You’re no doubt already using multiple carriers to meet your customers’ needs, but this in itself presents challenges and complexity. Not even mentioning the technical integrations and multiple technologies, you’re probably finding that you have a disjointed and fragmented view of your operations. So, what is the solution? Well, given that a failure to provide customer satisfaction in today’s world can quickly result in bad reviews on sites like Trustpilot, you need to act fast.

With this in mind, what are the key pieces of technology you should look for to make multiple carrier and multi-channel shipping easy?

A complete solution

There is a variety of shipping and dispatch technologies that will ultimately meet most of your needs, but they lead to a disconnection in your process, and let’s be honest… headaches. So, what you need to do is choose a comprehensive solution that requires just one easy integration that can then be added to with simple bolt-ons. This approach allows you to ‘join the dots’ in your shipping and dispatch processes and make your entire operation faster and smarter. Look for a complete solution that provides the following capabilities…

1.   Point of sale
Give your customers better delivery choice and reduce cart abandonment with a delivery options plugin. Using intelligent shipping rules, the tech presents personalised delivery options at the checkout – maximising the customer experience and winning you sales. An innovative Duties and Taxes calculator will also help you decide if you want to combine duties and taxes in the cost, or let the customer choose to pay now or on delivery.

2.  Consolidate order data
Channel connector technology pulls orders from your various sales channels and extracts tracking data. You can then automatically return tracking information to your customers, no matter which sales channel they buy from. This untangles the complex flow of orders from multiple sales channels, connecting them together to unify the despatch and delivery experience.

3.  Label Production
An agile despatch platform optimises and streamlines your despatch operation, offering carrier-compliant label printing at a rate of up to 50,000 labels an hour, with automated parcel routing. This helps you get your orders out the door fast with full traceability, and ensures you send every parcel with the most suitable and economical carrier service.

4.  Track and trace
A multi-carrier tracking portal provides maximum transparency and control of your shipments. Track every parcel you send in one place and raise queries to action with a built-in actions manager feature.

5.  Analytics
With your very own delivery dashboard, you can gain a holistic view of all your shipping data, including parcel volumes, distribution across carriers, geographical locations, carrier performance and queries resolved. This enables you to make better-informed and smarter decisions in future.

6.  Customer service
Designed specifically for companies with customer service teams handling parcel issues, the latest technology empowers the team to proactively manage parcel exceptions quickly and effectively through direct contact with carriers and consignees, to reduce inbound customer queries and exceed consumer expectations.

7.  Returns
Returns can be a horrendous drain on resource, which is why a self-serve customer portal is the next step in delivery automation. Customers can not only choose the returns service that’s most convenient, but it also takes away back-end processing that can be costly and cumbersome.

8.  Invoice reconciliation
With the right plug-ins, you can receive automated invoice analysis that evaluates charges in comparison to expected costs. The software highlights any incorrect charges, anomalies and unexpected surcharges against your agreed tariffs to ensure you never spend more than you should.

We bet you never thought that this level of capability was possible in one solution – but it is. Now, think about how much easier and streamlined your operations would be if you could do all these things via one technology at your business.

Simplify your shipping with GFS

At GFS, we combine our expertise and vast range of services with the latest in innovative technology to provide you all the tools you need for a complete, enterprise-level multi-carrier approach. From checkout to labelling and from dispatch through to tracking and reporting, we deliver an ‘all in one’ delivery solution. The technology is easy to integrate, simplifies dispatch and boosts warehouse efficiency, making your job easier without the need for additional resource.

You can get all of this and more with GFS Enterprise Carrier Management technology.

Find out more
2021-05-11T10:20:22+00:00December 4th, 2020|

Outlook for Automation

From analytics to automation: what’s the outlook for delivery technology?

Technology moves so fast and much of it we now take for granted, for example mobile phones, Bluetooth earpieces and universal translators.

It might be some time before packages can be beamed straight into our homes by a transporter, but the way we ship and receive goods is going to be unrecognisable in a couple of years. And resistance is futile!

From drones leaving packages in customers’ gardens to autonomous vans making deliveries, technology is going to transform the despatch world. Although these ideas are still some way from becoming reality, other technologies are already having a big impact on how deliveries are logged, assigned, labelled and tracked. And it’s having an even bigger impact on the efficiency, accuracy and agility of shipping services.

Harnessing the power of automation and analytics

So what are the top trends and technologies that can make a difference to your business? First up, automation. A lot of despatch processes and workflows are already subject to a degree of automation. For example, Luxury Legs uses GFS Selector to automate the printing of parcel labels across all its sales channels and carriers. This has helped to cut despatch time by 50% and free up valuable resource.

But this is just the first chapter in the automation story – things are about to get even smarter. Worldwide spending on AI and process automation is expected to top $15.4 billion by 2021, with robots playing an increasingly important role in warehouse and logistics operations.

As more processes become automated, the easier it becomes to capture data at every stage of the customer experience. And that’s where the next trend comes in: analytics. Industry experts predict that worldwide revenue for big data and business analytics solutions will top $274.3 billion by 2022.

Analytics equal insights, and insights drive innovation and improvement, which will be increasingly important as merchants ship to more customers across more borders.

Mamas & Papas has already witnessed first-hand the power of analytics. By using GFS Reportor, it has been able to tap into key analytics, such as parcel volumes, geographical split and carrier performance, to help ensure performance levels are met. As a result, it’s seen a 10% increase in customer satisfaction and a 15% increase in the speed of despatch.

Giving delivery a personal touch

Richer analytics can not only help optimise internal processes but also personalise customer experiences. Consumers increasingly want to be treated as an individual at every stage of the buying cycle – and that includes delivery. More than 70% of customers expect you to understand their needs and expectations and more than 60% expect you to adapt based on their actions and behaviour.

Personalisation has already started to influence the shipping process. Let’s look at Mamas & Papas again: it uses GFS Checkout’s intelligent rules engine to personalise the delivery options presented to its customers based on the size of their order and their location.

For a retailer to remain competitive, this type of personalisation needs to be delivered at scale and at speed. Around 70% of customers use multiple channels to start and complete a single transaction. To ensure they receive a unified ecommerce experience, personalisation needs to be an omni-channel affair.

Maximum innovation for minimum investment

Delivery technologies and trends are evolving all the time, which means today’s brainchild could be tomorrow’s white elephant. As a result, developing and maintaining IT solutions and skills in-house can prove costly and risky.

By partnering with a specialist solutions provider, retailers can tap into the latest despatch innovations without having to make any capital investment.

Contact Us

Why not find out more about how GFS can help you leverage the latest delivery technologies?

2021-05-11T10:25:18+00:00December 4th, 2020|

Christmas with Covid – What can we anticipate from Peak 2020?

Christmas with COVID-19 – What can we anticipate from Peak 2020?

Amazon has rung the bell! Peak has officially begun – But what does peak during a pandemic look like?

Amazon Prime Day has officially kicked off Peak 2020, but it’s safe to say that this year it will be unlike any other.

The Coronavirus pandemic has led to unprecedented eCommerce growth with consumers now buying more online than ever. This volume uplift looks set to continue, with UK online spending expected to reach £73.4bn by the end of 2020 (+18.1% post-Covid), and it’s estimated Black Friday will be 14% bigger than the last.

These are big figures, especially when retailers and carriers have been managing peak-level volumes throughout the year already. So, could we be seeing a “peak on top of peak”?

But while Covid has helped some businesses thrive, 2020 also saw some of our favourite retailers and brands sadly collapse into administration. It’s also thought that almost 3 million people will be unemployed by Christmas, so consumers may well be more reluctant to spend.

So, are retailers set for a bumper Q4 or will Covid steal Christmas?

The busiest peak ever?

We think so, yes. Although consumer confidence could be shaky, online will rule supreme as local lockdowns and social distancing continue to keep people away from the high street.

At GFS, our customers have consistently seen an increase of +50% in volume compared to the same period last year – and there appear to be no signs of this slowing down.

Each year peak sets new highs but it feels as though the peak will be turned all the way “up to 11” this year.

This may sound like a dream from a profit perspective, but it could quickly turn into a nightmare if retailers are operationally unprepared to fulfil these kinds of volumes, amid the unpredictability of peak and the uncertainty of a global pandemic.

The sudden impact of Covid exposed some major weaknesses in eCommerce business supply chains, and really highlighted the importance of having flexibility and contingency to adapt at short notice. Any retailers that haven’t taken heed will only continue to stumble through peak in crisis mode, leaving themselves vulnerable and exposed to risk.

Watch out for rigorous carrier measures

So sales may not be a problem, but getting orders delivered to customers in the way and time they want will be more of a challenge.

It is worth noting that carriers have invested millions in expanding their networks this year, opening more depots, procuring more vehicles and hiring more staff to ensure they are match-fit and ready to support what looks set to be a particularly challenging peak.

But – and it’s a big but – carriers are reporting that their anticipated volume forecasts have been supercharged by 5 years, so this peak, carriers are going to be really strict in how they manage volumes through their network.

This means you should be prepared for:

  • Capped parcel volumes
  • Zero flexibility around capacity and collection times
  • Restricted availability of premium services
  • Late collection times but also more failed collections – if overcapacity carriers will simply cancel collections at short notice

It’s critical that your forecasts are as accurate as possible to lock in the right capacity with your carriers, BUT we also know that things don’t always go to plan. So, it’s also vitally important to have access to multiple carriers, to give yourself a ‘Plan B’ if things go wrong.

Super savvy shoppers

While consumers were reasonably understanding of the challenges that retailers faced throughout lockdown, 9 months later they’re not going to be so forgiving – especially as we head closer to Christmas when timing is everything.

Now consumers are expecting to be able to order and receive their delivery when they expect it – virtual queuing and 10-day lead times are just not going to cut it. After all, retailers have had all that time to prepare and fix any operational, technological and logistical issues that were highlighted by Covid – right?

Actually, in a recent study carried out by Brightpearl, 54% of retailers have not made any changes to their fulfilment model since the pandemic.

This Christmas, it won’t just be a battle for the best products or most attractive promotions, but the most reliable delivery. With the spotlight firmly on customer service, combined with the huge hike in parcel volumes, this will naturally result in more inbound customer service queries, which will need to be resolved quickly to minimise any impact on the customer experience and on CS team workloads.

Peak is a time when brand loyalty is really put to the test, and at a time when the patience of the general public is wearing thin. Delivering on your promises will be a key differentiator that will not only win new business but solidify repeat custom through peak and into the New Year.

Beating the January blues – Returns

2nd January is National Returns Day, the day that sees 72% more returns than on an average day in December.

Often businesses forget about returns because the focus is on peak. But with 78% of consumers looking at the returns process before choosing where to shop, they are hugely important. With more people buying online, we can expect to see more returns than ever come January 2021.

An online paperless returns portal is the best way to get visibility of all your inbound returns so they’re easier, faster and more cost-effective to process.

2020 is set to be the most challenging peak yet – are you ready?

Peak is likely to throw up a lot of surprises, and at GFS we love surprises!

We’ve been protecting peak for retailers for the last 20 years, and we actually look forward to it every year because it’s when GFS really comes into its own and when customers are reminded of why they chose us.

“Our only regret after experiencing our first peak with GFS was that we had not done this 10-years earlier!” Hampers.com

This year, we’ve invested heavily in increasing our capacity and ramping up our operation. We’ve opened new depots, added new global suppliers and even expanded into Europe with GFS Europe, to give us more coverage than ever before.

If you need a delivery partner that’s got your back this peak, contact us now to talk about how we can support you – But you’ll need to act fast, the countdown to peak has already begun…

Contact us today.

Find out more
e commerce services illustration

Have you signed up?

Register today for our webinar on 27th January 2021, ‘Peak, COVID, Brexit – what on earth happened?’ for the inside track on how eCommerce withstood the Big 3.

REGISTER TODAY

 

2021-05-11T10:58:45+00:00October 10th, 2020|

Carrier Management: What is Multi-carrier Parcel Management?

Online retailers face a tough market. High customer expectations coupled with the ambition to grow into international markets mean that it’s impossible to provide customers with the delivery options they want across multiple countries, with just one carrier. This means that many eCommerce businesses have to work with multiple carriers to thrive.

But managing different carriers can be a real headache, which is where Multi-Carrier Management comes in.

Multi-Carrier Parcel Management: How Does it Help?

Multi-carrier management solutions enable eCommerce businesses to:

• Manage carriers more easily
• Switch between carriers to reduce costs
• Offer a great customer experience with tracking and easy delivery
• Reduce cart abandonment
• Easily access new cross-border markets
• Mitigate risk

5 Ways Multi-carrier Management Can Help You Sell More

Find out more

Multi-Carrier Parcel Management helps businesses manage different carrier contracts, invoices, fuel surcharges, parcel tracking and reporting all in one place. This not only simplifies order fulfilment operations, but also offers customers more delivery options, and generally a better experience overall. On top of this, it offers retailers the flexibility and contingency to protect the customer experience no matter what – which is crucial in today’s climate of uncertainty.

Retailers can easily switch between carriers they want to use for certain deliveries. This not only ensures the best and most cost-effective service is used for each order, but also offers retailers with contingency so they always have a back-up plan, even if the unexpected happens.

Having the option of different carriers also gives customers more choice. Customers want delivery options, and have different needs whether it be based on level of convenience, speed or cost. Research consistently shows that customers are more like to buy from a website that offers options so it’s more important than ever to offer as much choice as possible to prevent customers from abandoning their carts at checkout.

See Multi-carrier Management
and Delivery Differently

multi carrier management video thumbnail

GFS: Multi Carrier Management Solutions

Even with effective Carrier Management, working with multiple carriers can be time consuming and costly. With GFS, Multi-carrier Parcel Management is made simple.

Through just one relationship, one contract, one technology system and one invoice, GFS can help manage delivery across all carriers, countries and channels, with value-added expertise and operational support. Plus, our Multi Carrier Management Software means you can effectively track and label across multiple carriers and services, and ensure a smooth customer experience. Solving delivery problems is what we do. Contact us today to get started.

Find out how we helped Wilko prevent disaster with multi-carrier management solutions

Read Case Study

2021-05-11T11:00:06+00:00October 6th, 2020|

4 things we can learn from Covid19 to prepare supply chains for post-Brexit

4 things we can learn from Covid19 to prepare supply chains for post-Brexit

Businesses have been bracing themselves for Brexit for 4 years but this year the countdown to Brexit became very real – and then of course 2020 threw us an even bigger curveball.

The Coronavirus pandemic has really tested the resilience of retailer supply chains, as a dramatic spike in orders followed a sharp decline in supply. In May, online sales hit a 10-year high and were up 24% on the same month in 2019 (IMRG Capgemini Retail Index 2020). Retailers were left with a bottleneck of delays as they struggled to fulfil demand and maintain stock levels. This exposed some key weaknesses in business supply chains, with the importance of contingency and agility shifting sharply into focus.

As the world gets to grips with the ‘new normal’, what can we learn from the impact of Covid19 and how can we apply these key learnings to supply chain strategies now as the Brexit transition period comes to a hard stop on 31st December 2020.

1. Diversify suppliers

One of the biggest learnings we can take from the Covid situation this year, is to spread out potential risk as much as possible, and not to keep “all your eggs in one basket”, especially when it comes to suppliers.

Many retailers rely on “The Factory of the World” to source their products, but when the virus first appeared in China, the country swiftly closed its borders, leaving stock levels hanging in the balance for many retailers.

Do you have suppliers in the EU? We don’t know what will happen when border-free trade ends on 31st December. It’s unlikely there will be a complete halt on supply, but there will be some significant changes to customs and import/export duties, which could lead to longer transit times and potentially higher costs.

Diversifying your network of suppliers will help spread and reduce the risk, so that if you come up against any problems importing stock from Europe, you can quickly pivot and order stock from alternative UK-based or international suppliers.

2. Relocate warehousing and fulfilment

Just as there may be delays and costs importing goods from the EU, the same will apply when shipping orders out to your EU customers.

If you have a large customer-base in the EU, or have plans to expand to Europe, shipping from the UK will incur more complex customs processes and duties, which could result in longer transit times, delays, or worse, return to sender.

Moving part of your fulfilment operation to the EU could help you avoid the cost and complexity of border controls, customs documentation and Duties altogether. This means your suppliers can deliver to your EU warehouse or fulfilment centre, and you can deliver from this location directly to your EU customers for faster shipping and a more seamless delivery experience. This will reduce the risk of delays and costs, as well as provide a base to continue growing your business in EU countries.
If this is not for you, there are a number of things you can do now to reduce the risk of border control issues from the UK, such as using Paperless Trade and getting a Duty Deferment account – check out our Brexit Checklist for a full list of everything you can do now to minimise disruption to delivery and returns from January 2021.

3. Protect Final Mile Delivery

Contingency means giving yourself flexibility and agility to adapt to change.

At the beginning of lockdown, carriers were overwhelmed, running over-capacity most days, and if this happens, it means they can stop collections and refuse parcels. This is not uncommon, and we see this often during peak sales periods like Christmas. On the other hand, we’ve even seen major carriers go into administration at crucial times of the year.

If you rely on a single carrier, and this carrier comes up against any problems, your parcels can’t go anywhere, which just creates a traffic jam of customer orders that creates a cycle of delays. The trick is to have multiple carriers at your fingertips so you can easily switch if you need to. An added bonus of this is that you can use each carrier to your advantage and tailor delivery to each customer, product and destination to strike the right balance between service and cost-efficiency, which also gives the customer the best possible delivery experience and helps you manage costs.

4. Improve Returns Efficiency

As lockdown boosted home delivery, this has inevitably also led to an increase in returns.

But returns have a direct impact on the bottom line – in fact they cost UK retailers a whopping £60bn a year! (ZigZag, 2020)

Post-Brexit, EU returns could be subjected to additional customs and duties requirements, which would create even more complexity and cost for businesses.

With 89% of consumers checking the returns policy before making a purchase (UPS – “Pulse of the Online Shopper), retailers can’t afford to leave returns to chance. But retailers will need to manage the customer experience with operational cost – and this all comes down to efficiency.

A paperless returns portal (like GFS Global Returns Pro) can help you electronically generate the required customs declarations for duty relief on cross-border returns , to ensure cross-border returns are as swift and seamless as possible for customers, and that you don’t pay duties twice.

Alternatively, if you choose to relocate your fulfilment operation to Europe, you could avoid the dreaded red tape altogether.

2020 will be the year when retailers face the perfect storm

eCommerce has boomed as social distancing moves consumers away from the high street, and soon we’ll be heading towards peak AND Brexit at the same time.

Both Peak and Brexit will throw up a lot of unknowns. We don’t know what social distancing measures will still be in place over Christmas, or how consumer confidence will be impacted.

Forecasting and planning can only take you so far, which is why it is vital to focus on mitigating potential risk and having contingency plans in place.

Now is a critical time to strike the right balance between protecting the bottom line and the customer experience.

Here at GFS, we have been prepping for Brexit for the last 4 years, working closely with our carriers and customers to understand how the industry is evolving to future-proof against Brexit and how we can help retailers.

That’s why we have set up GFS Europe, to help businesses move their operations into Europe easily as contingency in response to Brexit. As part of this new service, we are now offering warehousing and fulfilment services, as well as collections, deliveries and returns from/to anywhere in Europe.

Find out more
2021-05-11T11:05:50+00:00September 21st, 2020|
Go to Top