Overcoming the eCommerce Returns Challenge

It’s estimated that in 5-10 years, consumers will be shopping online more than they do in stores. This is probably not surprising, given that in 2019 the UK had more empty shops than ever before , while eCommerce continues to grow at around 20% each year – and this trend has only accelerated in recent months as lockdown left shoppers with no choice but to buy online.

But as eCommerce continues to flourish, so too does one of retail’s biggest bugbears – RETURNS.

There’s no getting around it, returns are massively important to consumers. In fact, 78% of all consumers look at the returns policy before making a purchase and 42% of shoppers have returned something in the last 6 months . And this makes sense, a good returns service gives customers the confidence to buy a product they haven’t physically seen, touched or tried on, and if consumers are unsure about a returns policy they’re unlikely to take a risk and will shop elsewhere.

But returns can have a huge impact on the bottom line, which is why it’s critical to balance the customer experience, with the cost and operational impact.

The operational challenge

Returns cost UK retailers a whopping £60bn a year, and when 35% of shoppers deliberately over-order, returns can seriously affect the bottom line .

The problem is that typically retailers have little visibility or control around what’s being returned, why, and when. Consumers can send back a return, and retailers don’t know what products will be returned, the condition they’ll be or the cost of delivery – until the return has already happened.

This makes it difficult to plan and manage the reverse supply chain, and retailers often end up playing ‘catch up’ with their returns. This means it can take time to get resaleable goods back in stock for other customers to buy, so retailers miss out on future sales.

These challenges around returns are amplified when it comes to international returns. Customs documentation, Duties & Taxes, as well as differences in local customer expectations and preferences, can make returns a very complex and expensive endeavour.

The customer experience challenge

Returns can have a direct impact on conversion rates and repeat purchases, especially as consumers now expect the same convenience with returns as they do with delivery, with next day and even same day delivery continuing to grow in popularity.

Whether it’s the returns policy on the website, or a previous returns experience, returns are a key deciding factor when a consumer is choosing where to shop.

What’s important to consumers when it comes to returns?

  • How long do they have to submit a return – how quickly do they have to decide?
  • The range of options on offer – are they convenient? Can they drop a parcel at their preferred store location or can they arrange a courier collection?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Can they exchange for a different size or colour?
  • How quickly will they receive a refund?
  • How do I know if my parcel has been received – what if it gets lost? Consumers say tracking and receipt of return is the most important aspect of the returns process .

Above all, returns need to be easy, convenient – and fast. Customers need peace of mind that they can easily return goods and get their money back quickly.

This is what will give them the confidence to buy, even if they’re not sure about a product, and this trust can convert a first-time customer into a loyal customer.

The international challenge

Returns are even more critical to your international customers – especially when buying online from overseas already feels like a bit of a risk. But the challenges around returns are magnified when it comes to cross-border logistics.

Every country has its own preferences and expectations when it comes to shopping online, delivery and returns – so it’s important to tailor your returns to each local market.

For example:

  • Germany has a real ‘returns culture’ – up to 70% of fashion purchases are returned
  • More than half of consumers in France choose to drop a return at a Drop Off location
  • Parcel lockers are more popular in China than any other nation
  • The Spanish and Chinese are most likely to abandon a cart if the returns policy is unsatisfactory
    (IMRG Returns Review 2020)

With cross-border returns, also comes the added challenge of Duties and Taxes. 68% of all consumers worldwide check to see if there will be any additional taxes to be paid . Using a DDP (Duty Paid) option is a way to remove this sales barrier, but this can be more time-consuming and costly for retailers – with many choosing to leave it up to the consumer to resolve themselves, which doesn’t make for a positive shopping experience.

Returns can no longer be an after-thought

Choice, flexibility, convenience, speed, visibility – this is what shoppers expect from a returns service, and this is mostly because this is what they get when shopping with a Tier 1 retailer. But businesses like these have huge budgets, sophisticated technology, robust infrastructures and access to an endless number of services – something that is out of reach for many growing businesses. It’s vital, therefore, that businesses find affordable solutions to deliver a returns solution that can compete and provide a flexible and seamless full-loop outbound and inbound shopping experience.

That’s why GFS is launching Global Returns Pro, the first choice for expanding eCommerce businesses wanting a fast and affordable solution to simplify global returns and give customers a high-end experience, without the high-end cost.

Click here to find out more and take advantage of our early-bird launch offer!

i – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49349703

ii – https://www.statista.com/statistics/288487/forecast-of-global-b2c-e-commerce-growth/

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

iv – ZigZag 2020

v – ZigZag 2020

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

vii – IMRG Returns Review 2020

2021-08-02T12:17:03+00:00July 2nd, 2020|

GFS and Tamebay Webinar – Coronavirus: Getting back to work

GFS and Tamebay Webinar – Coronavirus: Getting back to work

GFS Group Marketing Director, Bobbie Ttooulis joined Tamebay to walk you through the impact of the past few months, how the high street has changed, probably forever, and how you can win and be successful as the rest of the year unfolds.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, please allow all browser cookies or watch on YouTube

1000+ Delivery Services in one place

Multi-carrier eCommerce Technology

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2021-09-27T11:42:55+00:00June 23rd, 2020|

The New Normal: What impact will COVID-19 have on eCommerce and delivery?

As more businesses begin to re-open their doors, life is edging its way back to some kind of normal, but the reality is we don’t know what “normal” will look like in 1 month, 6 months or even 12 months’ time – what we do know is that businesses are likely to feel the impact of COVID-19 for quite some time.

It’s clear that eCommerce has experienced a surge in demand. As the country battened down the hatches back in March, consumer habits shifted dramatically, with 37% of us shopping online more than ever before*.

In fact, eCommerce sales soared to a massive 10-year high, as consumers were forced to do the majority of their shopping online for the first time ever.

How Did Retailers Cope?

The hike in demand put many retailers in a delicate situation, having to balance unplanned peak-level order volumes, with social distancing in the warehouse, as well as delays in the supply chain and carrier capacity issues. 

Many businesses either had to reduce staff numbers quickly or pause trading altogether. Even household names like Next and TK Maxx took the decision to completely cease selling online until they could guarantee the safety of their staff – a completely unprecedented move.

Even retailers that were able to continue “business as usual” were forced to advise delays of up to 10 days or more for delivery – timeframes that have really been unheard of in the UK this side of the 21st Century.

Some companies looked for inventive ways to continue to connect with customers and recreate the in-store shopping experience. John Lewis launched a ‘virtual services’ hub so that shoppers could book one-on-one video appointments with retail experts, who could help with setting up nurseries, interior design and personal styling. Curry’s PC World launched a video service so they can help online customers make informed choices when buying electronics. Retailers who didn’t sell online before also turned to delivering to keep their businesses afloat.

The businesses that have managed to maintain consistent service levels and sales, have been those that allowed for some flexibility to pivot their business model and adapt to change quickly.

What’s the outlook for eCommerce Post-COVID?

We saw shops open on 15th June and thousands of shoppers rushed back to the high street, with mile-long queues and waiting times of up to 2 hours. But let’s not jump to conclusions. While people may be quite happy queuing in sunshine at the moment – will they do the same in the rain? The likelihood is the novelty will wear off quickly!

While many jumped at the chance to get out and hit the high street, others are still more apprehensive. We also can’t forget that many people will be recovering financially from being on furlough and may be nervous to spend – May saw a slight dip in the rate of growth for eCommerce compared to April (96% vs 83%), perhaps down to the fact that shoppers stopped panic buying and became more cautious of their spending. But these are still massive numbers regardless.

eCommerce has been growing steadily for the last 3 years, hovering at around +20% YoY. The COVID crisis has simply accelerated the rate of growth ahead of time, a trend that we see continuing as consumer habits have shifted.

We will probably find that key verticals traditionally considered as instore purchases, such as food, flowers and wine, health and beauty, may find that shoppers continue to buy online which could result in a permanent shift of business model for sectors such as these.

And as retail continues to lean online, e-fulfilment will become a core focus, with many businesses re-prioritising the purpose of their store estates and delivery strategy – especially considering that the value and importance of delivery has now been brought front of mind.

As Andy Mulcahy, Strategy and Insight Director at IMRG said recently: “We are also starting to see a differential by retail tier, with mid-market losing out to budget retailers, a trend to watch as consumers seek value for money in uncertainty, however, on the other hand we are likely to see consumers looking for brand trust and quality. This can result in a squeeze in the mid-tier where appealing to both needs has been traditionally harder to balance. Retailers will need to listen to their customers, and find new ways to become increasingly transparent, flexible and innovative in order to navigate the rocky and uncertain road ahead.”

How Can Retailers Adapt For The Future?

Whatever happens, it’s clear that we are in a constant state of flux and uncertainty – making it difficult for businesses to plan and forecast as they typically would. And soon we’ll be facing PEAK and BREXIT. Logically the businesses that have the flexibility and agility to react fast, with a focus on contingency and cost control will be the ones most likely to not only survive, but thrive.

This is no different to how businesses should be looking at delivery. Delivery is one of the most important parts of the customer experience and multi-carrier delivery not only gives retailers the ability to switch carriers, but also strike the right balance between performance, service and cost. By expanding delivery, it makes it possible to offer customers wider choice of delivery and service consistency – which will especially be important in this competitive climate. While customers may have been more tolerant over the last few months – don’t be fooled, a good customer experience will always be a huge sales motivator.

At GFS, we give retailers flexibility and contingency by offering single access to the widest range of global multi-carrier services for delivery and returns with a seamless customer experience – no matter what happens.

Make sure you always have a Plan B – Watch this video to find out how!

Or contact us to see how GFS can help prepare your eCommerce business for every eventuality.


2021-08-02T12:12:34+00:00June 19th, 2020|

International eCommerce Shipping: Costs, Carriers and Ensuring Customer Satisfaction

eCommerce allows business to expand beyond their physical stores and opening hours to sell anywhere, at any time. Bypass geographic limitations and reach customers no matter where they live. Shipping internationally enables access to larger markets and bigger profits, making it a high priority for many businesses. So, how can you get your product from A to B even when crossing borders?

How Much Does eCommerce International Shipping Cost?

There are many different considerations when it comes to shipping internationally and the cost can be affected by many different aspects.

Where you are shipping to and what you are shipping.

Generally, the further away you are shipping to, the higher the cost, but different countries also have different cross border laws that you need to consider. These also can depend on what products you are shipping, with varying rates of taxes and duties on those products affecting cost. It’s important to decide what countries you want to sell into and learn their requirements for different products. Find out:

• What kind of duties and taxes are involved?
• How does their customs work?
• What kind of paperwork will be required for the parcel to ship easily with no delays for the customer?

Size and weight of the parcel

Size and weight obviously will affect the cost of the parcel being shipped. You can help reduce costs for this by cutting down on product packaging that affects its dimensions and ensuring your packaging is streamlined.

The carrier you use

Different carriers obviously come with different costs and you will want to go with the most reliable service at the best price. However, with international delivery it can be a bit more complicated. Some carriers will have the highest shipping rate in one country, but the lowest shipping rate in another. Also one carrier might be cheaper for heavy items, but might not be the cheapest for smaller packages.

Multi-carrier Ecommerce Shipping

Due to the differing rates from different carriers, the cheapest way to do international eCommerce delivery is to use multiple carriers. You can take advantage of reduced prices for shipping smaller items or choose different carriers based on the best local service of that country.

It also means that you can offer more choice to your customers. International shipping is always going to take longer than domestic, and sometimes this can be off putting for customers. However, giving them the option of paying more for a faster service, or saving money if they’re willing to wait longer can help ensure a sale. This has been proven to increase satisfaction in customers buying from you, as well as reducing the chance of cart abandonment.

Ensuring A Good Customer Experience when Shipping Internationally

Keeping customers happy means making sure your international delivery is quick and efficient. Even when buying from a different country, customers want that instant gratification from buying, and any delays or issues that come up can affect their satisfaction with the service. That’s why it’s so important to get the paperwork right to avoid unnecessary delays. A commercial invoice and an export packing list are almost always necessary for your packages, although the requirements vary country to country. Duties and taxes also need to be paid on time to avoid hold ups at customs.

Transparency on costs and tracking

Although sometimes delays are unavoidable, what you can avoid is keeping your customers in the dark. That’s why parcel tracking and good customer service is so important. Sometimes customers will want to check the status of their package or ensure it’s on its way. Giving them transparency can be the difference between a positive and a negative experience and change the possibility of repeat sales.
Ensure your website also displays full information on shipping either on an international shipping page or on each product, detailing which countries you ship to, how long it is likely to take and if they can track orders.

Tracking and full transparency not only increases customer satisfaction but also saves you time handling refund requests for customers unsure where their package is or dealing with questions.

Calculating Duties and Taxes for International Ecommerce Delivery

Calculating the different costs of duties and taxes for different countries can seem like a real headache, as well as ensuring it’s added to the products during the checkout process. Our technology gives you a simple solution. Our GFS Checkout widget easily integrates onto your website and calculates the duties and taxes for you, gives you the choice of including it in the total price or showing it as separate additional cost, as well as giving the customer the option of paying it now, or when the parcel arrives. Find out more about integrating GFS Checkout.

An International eCommerce Delivery Service

It is possible to manage all the requirements of international eCommerce shipping in-house. However, with a global delivery partner like GFS, you can take the hassle out of international delivery. With access to 50+ carriers across 220+ countries, we can ensure you get the best rates and the best local service. As well as a choice of services, you will also have an Account Manager for on-hand support, and pro-active parcel tracking and carrier management with our GFS customer care team. Find out more about our eCommerce International Shipping.

2021-08-02T12:35:13+00:00May 20th, 2020|

Webinar with IMRG: What impact will Coronavirus have on delivery?

Webinar with IMRG: What impact will Coronavirus have on delivery?

We joined IMRG in this webinar to look at their data and discuss the impact COVID-19 might have on delivery.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, please allow all browser cookies or watch on YouTube

Multi-carrier eCommerce Technology

1000+ Delivery Services in one place

Contact us – we’re here to help!

2021-09-27T11:44:59+00:00April 22nd, 2020|

In the press: What can retailers do to improve their environmental image?

By Ben Sillitoe

I’ve seen a few comments and analysis pieces recently scoffing at retailers’ attempts to be more environmentally-friendly, and I feel lots of the criticism is a tad unfair.

Yes, of course we need to be mindful of so called ‘greenwashing’, and there’s a strong argument that caring for the environment we all live in should have been front and centre of businesses strategies from day one, but surely the now daily raft of green industry initiatives we’re hearing about is a good thing.

By our very existence and that of business, a carbon footprint is inevitable, making the meaning of true sustainability difficult to define, so the focus has to simply be on being better. Being better to slow down the damage we are doing to our planet, and being better at getting others to follow the cause.

From frozen food retailer Iceland’s ongoing efforts to “turn down the tap of plastic production” and its plastic bottle deposit return scheme, to Tesco’s promise to reduce 350 tonnes of plastic per year by eliminating multi-buy wrapping, there are plenty of examples of positive action being taken.

In fashion, where many big names have been hauled into Parliament to face an Environmental Audit Committee inquiry into fashion sustainability, there are encouraging moves being made. To name just two, H&M has taken a majority stake in Sellpy, a re-commerce platform that sells second-hand clothes, while Burberry said this week that it will be “entirely powered by electricity from renewable sources” by 2022 – moves that need to be applauded, if not taken as strategies that will save the planet by themselves.

As Alecxa Julia Cristobal, marketing content writer for electronic payment provider Asia Pay, says: “If you’re in the fashion industry, capitalising on sustainable clothing is now a trend.”

Top tips for being better

Thanks in large part to Sir David Attenborough and his Blue Planet BBC programme – not to mention the unseasonal extreme weather-related disasters we’re seeing around the world – the health of the environment is well and truly under the global spotlight. And shoppers are starting to take retailers’ environmental policies into account when making purchasing decisions.

Accenture research shows 83% of consumers across North America, Europe, and Asia believe it’s important or extremely important for companies to design products that are meant to be reused or recycled. And 72% said they’re currently buying more environmentally friendly products than they were five years ago.

Brendan Murray, content marketing manager at Akeneo, an open source product information management company, says: “Consumers increasingly want the brands they buy from to be good corporate citizens – even if they have to pay a bit more for the privilege.”

Appealing to the ethically conscious customer is going to take more than just labelling things “green”, though. As product provenance becomes more transparent, at the demand of shoppers, token eco-gestures are not enough – companies need to build being good into their very make-up.

As Mike Hayers, UK country manager at ShipStation, a shipping software company, remarks: “Going green has been a great way to elevate your brand’s image for close to two decades now.

“But while concerns grow more and more to the collective forefront, simply stating “we went green by packaging in recycled boxes” no longer cuts it.”


And Steve Tainton, head of sustainability and CSR at Wincanton, a logistics services provider, says: “The responsibility is on the retailer to be more transparent about their supply chain.

“If they want to attract ethical consumers, they need to be crystal-clear in demonstrating their ethical credentials and completely authentic in their data and position.”

Adrienne Burns, director of customer experience at Summit, a digital commerce agency, acknowledges that “making radical changes to an entire operation will be tricky and takes time”.

“However, I would suggest that retailers look at what customers expect to see when it comes to being environmentally and socially conscious and start there – whilst of course looking at how to make long lasting and forward-thinking changes,” she comments.

Burns also advises giving consumers choices, noting: “You don’t need to roll out everything at once but let consumers know what you have changed and give them the option to purchase more sustainably.”

Mike Richmond, chief commercial officer at Doddle, a parcel and returns collection service, challenges the idea that being green is about image, saying that “feels superficial”.

“Consumers can see the wood from the (carbon neutral) trees when it comes to ‘green-washing’ and conversely, they are proven to react immensely positively to retailers which heed their demands for ethical behaviour,” he states.

“Shoppers want to know that your product is produced and delivered in a way that is genuinely sustainable. And in the context of delivery, I think there’s a lot of catching up to do.”

And, of course, if consumers are so tuned into being green as the surveys and the anecdotal evidence suggests, it’s now up to retailers to effectively communicate what they are doing to meet those demands.

Sarah MacDonald, northern EMEA regional marketing manager at Magento, an eCommerce platform provider, advises retailers to design their websites to clearly state their green practices.

“Whether this is talking about recyclable packaging in the delivery/returns section, or highlighting what their clothes are made of in the product information – it’s now more important than ever to be upfront about being green,” she comments.

Marginal gains to be made in delivery

In the early days of eCommerce, some digital-only retailers, including grocer-cum-tech-company Ocado, touted their deliver-to-home services as a greener option than consumers taking their own cars to the supermarket. There may be some truth in that, there may not – but as eCommerce has grown in popularity and more and more trucks and vans from multiple retailers hit the road, the argument has been watered down.

It means there are several stages of the delivery and supply chain process that retailers could focus on to make marginal gains that, when combined, add up to huge differences in terms of environmental friendliness.

Daniel Ennor, Chief Commercial Officer at GFS, a global delivery technology company, notes:

“By consolidating the number of pickups and collections, companies can improve efficiency, and maximise delivery performance.”

Meanwhile, Joe Farrell, vice president of international operations at PFS, a fulfilment services provider, says attention to product packaging is one of the most visible ways retailers can improve their supply chain sustainability.

“Retailers only stand to gain when they embrace sustainable packaging,” he remarks, adding reducing the amount of waste consumers themselves have to dispose of upon receipt of products is a key way of improving a business’s reputation.

Emily Cotterill, head of sustainability at Rebound, a returns platform, agrees packaging is important, but argues that shoppers are increasingly “becoming mindful of how green the delivery and returns options are”.

“In an Advanced Supply Chain Group returns white paper published this month, 43% of respondents said that they would be more likely to purchase from a retailer if they offered a green returns service, but only if it was free,” she notes.

“Interestingly, this percentage drops to 23% if the customer had to pay. Therefore, retailers must consider what resonates most with their customer base, making their proposition appealing to ethically conscious consumers, whilst also economically viable.”

Matthew Robinson, Co-CEO at NetDespatch, a shipping and parcel data management platform for carriers, acknowledges retailers and carriers alike are “feeling the pressure to have sustainable advocacy in their business plan”.

But, judging by consumer trends, there is no use battling against the tide. Soon enough, being green will be a prerequisite, and that means there is effectively no option but to get better at finding environmentally-friendly ways of retailing.

“As the new generation comes of age, their preferences and purchasing power will start to have a big impact on business,” Robinson says.

“Given the rocketing profile of environmental issues, retail businesses need to respond or risk becoming out of touch with the new generation of customers.”

Out of touch and out of business, perhaps?


Although the industry is not short of useful advice, as highlighted by the above comments from IMRG members, it is my view that the sector needs more eco warriors. In the past we’ve had The Body Shop founder, Anita Roddick, and in the years since Lush co-founder Mark Constantine has been a baton carrier for the sustainability cause.

Today, Iceland’s managing director, Richard Walker, is an audible voice in the battle to prevent ocean plastic pollution, lobbying the government to help businesses better deal with the plastic mountain within retail. There are others, of course, but we need additional figureheads to adopt more activist attitudes, and to take their concerns – and their practical ideas – to the top.

Consumers will appreciate it and, judging by the millions who have taken to the streets around the globe to protest about the climate crisis in recent months, they’ll be standing right behind them – and all that has the potential to influence significant change.

This article was originally posted on imrg.org on 13th February 2020 – find the article here.

2021-05-11T11:43:45+00:00April 14th, 2020|

In the press: Industry reacts to UK customs check plans

Industry reacts to UK customs check plans

The UK government has confirmed it will introduce import controls on EU goods coming over the border at the end of this year. The announcement confirms what was the widely expected result of the government’s plan to exit the EU’s customs union and single market and strike trade deals.

We look at how retail and logistics trade bodies responded to the news.

Freight Transport Association

Elizabeth de Jong, FTA’s UK Policy Director said: “Today’s announcements about the UK’s future relationship with Europe provide more much-needed clarity for logistics operators, and his assertion that there will be no extension to the transition period gives businesses a finite deadline to which to work.  The news of funding to help industry prepare for operation outside the EU is certainly welcome, whatever the outcome of the negotiations.

“Mr Gove put to rest Sajid Javid’s assertion that industry had plenty of time to prepare.  It is encouraging for industry that he said he does not underestimate what needs to be done and that he has his civil servants focussed on capturing and providing industry with the details we need, we hope within the timeframes we need to prepare.

“As representatives of the logistics industry, we are naturally disappointed that the promise of frictionless trade has been replaced with a  promise that trade will be as seamless as possible but not until 2025, with a more realistic but costly “make do and mend” approach to be employed until then.  Industry will need the support of government during this period to Keep Britain Trading effectively.”

British Retail Consortium

Andrew Opie, Director of Food & Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Government will need to move fast if it intends to provide the necessary infrastructure to carry out full border controls on imported goods from January 2021.Without the necessary infrastructure up and running from day one, consumers in the UK will see significant disruption, particularly in the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables.

“The Government needs to establish import and export processes along with necessary infrastructure capable of conducting checks on rules of origin, SPS, VAT and more1. Staffwill need to be hired and trained to carry out these checks on the thousands of lorries that enter the UK every day. IT systems must be adapted and tested. Holding facilities for lorries, particularly at Dover and Folkestone, will need to be constructed. It is not enough to announce checks will take place, we must see plans now as to how this will be possible in practice, or it will be consumers who suffer on 1st January 2021.”

Road Haulage Association

In a letter to transport secretary Grant Shapps MP, RHA chief executive called for more information from government to allow businesses to prepare in time for the deadline.

“We need HMRC to clearly define the process so that we can understand how many customs agents will be required to support traders and hauliers.”

He criticised the lack of a firm deadline for when the customs processes would be published and warned that there could be a shortfall of customs agents.


Bobbie Ttooulis, Executive Director at Global Freight Solutions, said:

“Retailers can no longer ignore the impact that Brexit has on their businesses, especially as border control changes the impact on customer delivery. It’s crucial that they forecast for changes to border procedures, documentation, duties, taxes and pressures that will impact their supply chains.

“While Brexit has been initiated, uncertainty still hangs over trade. So, the safest best is to prepare for tough border controls. Long delays at the ports are going to be part and parcel for this new Brexit reality. If your business ships into the EU, and in the event of a backlog at the Channel tunnel for instance, partners will need to be able to divert product from the road to the air to avoid delays to the end customer. Adopting a paperless clearance system will also help minimise delays from reading handwritten documents, plus ensuring you have the right European Union Registration and Identification Number. An 8 or 10-digit HS code (Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System) will also need to be supplied to support efficient customs clearance and enable accurate duty and tax calculations.

“Delays in the supply chain, caused by custom checks will lead to retailers being forced to hold more stock in their supply chain than they’re used to. This will have a direct financial impact on those businesses, who’ll either need to expand storage capabilities or hire more staff to cope with the increased volume of stock. Ultimately, communication and transparency will be key. Transparency of the resulting duties and tax cost incurred to customers at the checkout, as well as communication at each stage of the delivery journey, will minimise disruptions and keep customers on side.”

This article was originally posted on edelivery.net on 12th February 2020 – find the article here.

2021-05-11T11:45:40+00:00February 13th, 2020|

In the press: Brexit barriers – is your business ready?

Brexit barriers – is your business ready?

By Dan Ennor – CCO at GFS

After a prolonged period of uncertainty, Brexit has happened. And retailers need to be prepared for the changes this will bring. A strong Brexit strategy for retailers all boils down to preparation. However, many businesses are still unsure how Brexit will impact them and the changes they’ll have to make as a result. Which means they need to act fast. But, how can companies plan for what they don’t know?

1. Documentation and procedure

I have no doubt Brexit will surely see the end of free trade movement in the EU for the UK, and when that significant change occurs, alterations to paperwork and procedures will follow. Reforms to trading will be a blow to unprepared retailers and their delivery companies, both practically and within documentation. Post-Brexit legislation will mean they need to update their processes in order to be compliant depending on the EU country they’re delivering to. With that in mind, retailers need to ensure the delivery companies they work with go paperless with their admin to prevent costly clerical errors.

Following the introduction of new laws and regulations, there will be plenty of red tape, and storing this information on paper will create a logistical nightmare for organisation and compliance. By adopting a paperless clearance system, expensive delays caused by misreading handwritten customs documentation are avoided. Submitting documents electronically to customs also eliminates the need to print and manually attach them to shipments, saving paper, time and hassle.

It’s also important for retailers to take note of some of the extra information they’ll need to provide at customs, post-Brexit. For example, customers will need to provide a European Union Registration and Identification Number in order to ship to the EU versus just a UK VAT number. And this will need to be checked and enforced to prevent failed deliveries. An 8 or 10-digit HS code will also need to be supplied to support efficient customs clearance and enable accurate duty and tax calculations are added for all products.

2. Delays to the supply chain

Going forward, when trading with EU nations, retailers will notice additional border checks, and major delays to their supply chain. This is something that needs to be built into every delivery company’s forecasting going forward.

Above all, communication is key. Operating transparently will ensure your consumers receive order notifications, keeping them fully informed throughout the process. This will become increasingly important during the early stages of Brexit, when the concept is new to everyone. Retailers will need their delivery providers to keep them abreast of how long a delivery’s going to take in real-time, so they can set expectations with shoppers accordingly and ensure customer satisfaction doesn’t suffer. Further to that point, eCommerce businesses will need to adapt their delivery promises on their website, as opposed to simply updating customers via SMS. This needs to be calculated accurately so retailers aren’t made to seem dishonest or ill-informed.

Furthermore, delays in the supply chain, caused by custom checks, will lead to retailers being forced to hold more stock in their supply chain than they’re used to. This will have a direct financial impact on those businesses, who’ll either need to expand storage capabilities or hire more staff to cope with the increased volume of stock.

3. Transparent duties & taxes

The most obvious, and perhaps well-documented barrier that Brexit will impose on delivery companies and retailers, is the duties and tax added to product prices depending on the shipping destination. With extra costs now attached to trade goods between EU countries, the overall cost of delivery will go up, and it’s on retailers and their delivery provider of choice to consider who’ll pay that extra fee.

With the cost of delivery in the EU rising, delivery companies will likely need to reflect that in their price, so the added cost doesn’t fall to them. That means that duties and taxes will likely be passed onto retailers, and retailers will inevitably be forced to pass that fee to customers, rather than absorbing it themselves. What will be important in the infancy of new duties and taxes for EU trading, is transparency across the board while everyone gets used to the transition.

Most importantly, eCommerce retailers will need to communicate these new duties and taxes to consumers at the point of checkout so they’re aware of the charge prior to, and at purchase. Unexpected fees will simply lead to cart abandonment worsening or goods being refused at the border. In the grand scheme of things, duties and taxes will make UK retailers less competitive versus those based in the EU, and that will directly impact on export revenues. Something for delivery companies to be wary of as they plan ahead.

The details of what Brexit looks like are still being decided upon. But that doesn’t mean that retailers should sit idle. There are steps brands can take to prepare for the impact of Brexit. What should be abundantly clear is that the choice of delivery provider for retailers, will impact their strategy, and ultimately their success. We know for certain that trading in the EU will change, and this will directly hit retailers’ delivery process. However, only by retailers and their delivery providers being aware and acting on these changes before they hit, can they best prepare their businesses to minimise disruption.

This article was originally posted on bdaily.co.uk on 6th February 2020 – find the article here.

2021-05-11T11:46:22+00:00February 7th, 2020|

Webinar with Tamebay: Delivery in a post-Brexit world

Webinar with Tamebay: Delivery in a post-Brexit world

We teamed up with Tamebay in this webinar to inform retailers of our insights into post-Brexit delivery.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, please allow all browser cookies or watch on YouTube


Selling to the EU just got easier and cheaper…

Contact us – we’re here to help!

2021-09-27T11:47:35+00:00January 21st, 2020|

How to grow international eCommerce sales with online marketplaces

$1.86 trillion was spent globally on the top 100 online marketplaces in 2018

Which goes to show there’s a world of opportunity amongst online marketplaces beyond Amazon and eBay.

We have teamed up with global marketplace experts, Muloot, to bring you this eBook that will show you where the biggest marketplace opportunities are in the world, and how to use them to your unique advantage to grow international revenues.

In this eBook you’ll find out about:

  • What are the key challenges for online sellers – with results from our recent retailer survey
  • The Global Marketplace Landscape – with Muloot’s top 15 ‘rising star’ marketplaces around the world
  • Implementing a delivery strategy that fulfils marketplace and customer satisfaction
  • How to kickstart your international marketplace growth journey
2021-12-09T16:22:13+00:00September 13th, 2019|

How Will Sustainability Affect Ecommerce Delivery?

When we look at the future for delivery and logistics, there is a lot of buzz around AI, automation and technological innovation. However, one subject that is increasingly important for businesses and consumers is the environment. With all the haulage and miles that go into the delivery businesses, how will these companies tackle sustainability?

Eco-Friendly Transport

One of the most obvious ways that delivery companies will look to tackle their carbon footprint is through vehicles. Haulage lorries are far behind cars in terms of innovation in electric motors, although as more cars become electric, we are likely to see more vans and lorries become electric too. Companies are also looking at switching from diesel lorries to help reduce emissions. Robot and drone deliveries are still a futuristic prospect, but another innovation that will help companies go green.

Reducing Delivery Failures

Ordering products online always raises questions around the environmental impact. However, some of the major costs and carbon outputs for delivery companies come in the last few miles of the delivery journey. When there is a failed delivery, it sets of a chain of events that involves extra miles being driven to try and re-deliver, or for the consumer to pick it up from another location. Cutting down on failed first time deliveries is a key way to reduce carbon footprint. It might seem like a hard thing to achieve, but the best way to do this is by giving customers more delivery options such as nominated day, timed delivery and click and collect. This gives customers more control over when they can get the delivery, which cuts down on failed deliveries and those extra miles.

Maximising Performance Of Your Carrier

Many eCommerce companies work with multiple carriers to get the best service for their customers. As well as being complicated and time-consuming, this means more collections, more emissions and more delivery vehicles on the already-clogged-up roads. By reducing the amount of pickups, companies can improve efficiency, and maximise delivery performance. Working with GFS enables you to simplify multi-carrier shipping with a single collection service, so you can make your deliveries greener.

Environmental impact is more important for customers, businesses and governments as global warming becomes a pressing issue. However, there are ways that delivery companies and eCommerce businesses can help reduce their own environmental footprint. Plus, with 43% of UK shoppers saying that they are more likely to shop with a retailer if they offer a greater range of sustainable delivery options, its not just about the environment, but also about retaining your customers and staying ahead.

2021-08-02T12:07:42+00:00August 14th, 2019|

How To Find The Best eCommerce Delivery Partner For Your Business

Finding the right delivery partner is key for your business. It requires trust that your customer will receive the experience they expect. Your delivery partner should act as an extension on your business and represent your brand, which means delivery performance is crucial. So what do you need to consider?


Make sure the partner you choose is readily available for you. Once you are ready to send the product, you want them to be able to pick it up in an efficient and timely manner. It sounds simple, but larger companies service multiple businesses so you want to make sure your parcels are just as important to your supplier as they are to you.

Parcel Tracking

Communication is key. You need to know where your shipments are and whether they have been delivered in time. A partner that offers comprehensive and detailed tracking capabilities is valuable for your piece of mind, and your customer service. Make sure you have access to robust online tracking so that both you and your customers know exactly when a package will be delivered on a specific day.

eCommerce Technology

As well as tracking, having updated and useful technology helps you to optimise your despatch processes and boost efficiencies. Delivery and logistics is teeming with innovative technology, so make sure your delivery partner offers more than basic tracking and is at the forefront of industry technology. Consider how the technology can serve your specific needs and scale with you as your business grows.


Low costs don’t always offer the best value and could mean you are cutting down on other value-added services such as tracking, customer service, communications, and delivery performance. Having a quality delivery service will give your customers a better experience which can lead to overall growth. It’s important your delivery partner can provide you with the services, tools and expertise to sustain this continued business growth.

Customer Service

The importance of customer service cannot be understated. 52% of customers have made an additional purchase after getting a positive customer service experience and 70% have made a choice to support a company who has great customer service. Having good customer service for both you as a company when you need to deal with them and for your customers can have a huge affect on your business.

Additional Services

Make sure you get more from delivery than just sending a parcel from A to B. You could have a full range of additional services including carrier management, labelling, warehouse automation, customer care and reporting. It may mean that you can outsource certain aspects to take the pressure off your business and help you focus on growth.

GFS offer a variety of services, including connecting up your different sales channels, access to different couriers, a wider variety of delivery options, track and trace, label production, and innovative technology to make things smooth and easy. Contact us to talk about your delivery needs today.

2021-08-02T12:03:57+00:00July 18th, 2019|
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