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P2P Mailing MD Paul Galpin tells ToyNews how toy retailers can adapt their fulfillment and distribution processes for the international market and reach customers worldwide

Think global, be local

The Internet economy continues to grow apace, with analysts predicting that the online market will be worth $4.2 trillion in the G20 economies by 2016. The internet and the growth of ecommerce are giving toy retailers a unique opportunity to expand their customer base worldwide.

The importance of adapting the fulfilment and delivery processes for international expansion should not be underestimated; failure to plan accordingly can have disastrous consequences. Our research shows that experiencing delays or delivery problems just twice or more would convince 87 per cent of people to switch to another supplier.

So how can toy retailers avoid these pitfalls? What are the key steps to success? While engaging with overseas customers gives toy retailers an opportunity for growth, when it comes to the cost of cross-border delivery – what are the related costs?

For many, engaging with an expert third-party provider will be the most failsafe and cost-effective way of managing distribution. They should not only be able to negotiate competitive prices on your behalf, but will also be able to advise you on how to ensure that your fulfilment and distribution infrastructure can keep pace with the expansion of your business.

Many consumers like to be able to keep an eye on when their goods are expected, but naturally offering trackable delivery is expensive. In the UK, 12 per cent of deliveries fail first time, costing the online retail industry an estimated £1 billion in redeliveries – and once delivery to other countries is added into the mix, the potential for mistakes is far greater.

For many retailers selling lower value items via a standard delivery service, their trackable options have been limited – with a choice between relying on international packet post with little or no tracking, or premium express parcel services which offer tracking but add significantly to delivery costs.

However, this situation is changing and there are now a few solutions that offer trackable, cross- border delivery for smaller parcels at lower rates. These enable online retailers to offer their customers real-time delivery information without the inflated distribution prices.

In addition to working out how items will be delivered, it is also vital to consider how you might get them back, should the need arise.

Toy retailers need to make their returns policy clear to customers from the outset and carefully ensure that they are compliant with the regulations, which will differ across countries.

While the opportunity for international expansion is an exciting one, toy retailers must ensure they are fully prepared before they attempt to seize it.

Paul Galpin is MD at P2P Mailing. Visit http://p2pmailing.co.uk.

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