Postal operators are increasingly seeing that adding value to the ecommerce supply chain outside of their traditional delivery activity can be a good way to grow parcel volumes.
Canada Post and Asendia are among a growing list of operators that are now working to help businesses sell more online by helping them create and run ecommmerce websites.
The companies are both working with partners in the IT sector to bring in website development expertise to help particularly smaller retailers to set up their own online sales presence.
Canada Post has just teamed up with ecommerce website developer Shopify to offer a complete package to help retailers “almost instantly” become online merchants.
Asendia – the new international mail company formed this year from the merged cross-border operations of La Poste and Swiss Post – is working with ecommerce platform provider Powa to help retailers develop export businesses by creating new websites for foreign audiences.
Rather than develop the technology themselves and reinvent the wheel, Canada Post and Asendia are finding partners in the ecommerce space with whom to offer all-in-one ecommerce platforms
Canada Post says together with Ottawa-based Shopify, it can now provide a user-friendly all-in-one ecommerce platform complete with a streamlined shipping process that can produce labels and automatically calculate shipping rates.
The application allows retailers to easily create a website and start selling products online, with Canada Post suggesting it takes only minutes to set up a new ecommerce store.
Canada Post sees the offering as a way to grow its presence in the $8bn Canadian ecommerce market.
Canada Post is now offering the Shopify service for members of its small business client programme, VentureOne, to try for free for three months.
René Desmarais, Canada Post’s senior vice-president for parcels, said the partnership with Shopify would help his company promote Canada’s digital economy in the long term.
He said: “For centuries, Canada Post has been an enabler of trade and commerce in this country, and we will continue to play an even stronger role in this burgeoning digital economy.”
Shopify, which was founded in 2004 and now hosts more than 30,000 online retail stores, said its process means it is no longer a daunting task for a merchant to get into selling online.
Harley Finkelstein, chief platform officer of Shopify, said: “Nowadays, customers don’t just want to be able to buy your product online – they expect it. That’s why this collaboration between Canada Post and Shopify is so important. We’ve made it possible for every Canadian business or entrepreneur to build an amazing online store, with little effort.”
Asendia has been working with ecommerce website developer Powa, part of New York-based ecommerce software as a service company Venda, to help retailers expand their sales internationally.
The service has been developed over the past year, but with the formation of his new company now complete, Asendia senior global executive for distance selling Chris Stevens tells Post&Parcel that the company is now beginning to take the international shopping platform to market.
Stevens, who was at this week’s Ecommerce Expo in London to promote the new platform among ecommerce merchants, said the service wasn’t simply about translating an existing website into another language, but quickly launching new “cloned” versions of a retailer’s website for foreign markets tailored for each audience and linked into the search engines used by audiences overseas as well as integrating with Asendia’s shipping services.
“Working with this partner, we are able to create dozens of websites in a few weeks,” he said.
Payment for the service is transaction-based, which means rather than pay a hefty fee upfront and ongoing management charges for new websites, retailers pay a commission on sales they achieve through their new international ecommerce stores.
In Powa, Stevens said the new platform is fully compliant with recognised data protection rules to ensure trust among shoppers, and provides consumers with a fully landed cost for their purchases, so there are “no surprises” after checkout.
Stevens said that unexpected customs or other charges can be one of the biggest turn-offs for consumers in cross-border ecommerce.
Asendia is currently in the process of integrating the international mail operations of Swiss Post and La Poste, and is particularly eyeing ecommerce as a target market for growth, offering shipping services for packets from 100g to 30kg in weight.
A new shipment portfolio under the Asendia brand is expected to be launched early in 2013 once the integration of the networks is complete.
Stevens said Asendia was working with partners, and that one of the big benefits of the combination of La Poste and Swiss Post was that the company could link up with other subsidiaries of the two postal groups, such as the DPD network.
Source: James Cartledge, Post&Parcel