April 29, 2008, 12:00 AM

DHL and Borderlinx partner to simplify international e-commerce

Delivery and logistics company DHL and Borderlinx, a company that helps businesses ship goods from a number of suppliers, have partnered to assist U.S. e-retailers selling internationally.

Delivery and logistics company DHL International GmbH and U.K.-based Borderlinx, a company that helps businesses ship goods from a number of suppliers, have partnered to assist U.S. e-retailers selling internationally. The deal aims to make it easy for U.S. e-retailers to ship abroad, and for foreign consumers to know how much they will pay for shipping.

Under the agreement, U.S. online retailers can integrate directly with Borderlinx to make their products available to the international marketplace. The integration provides web merchants with such services as order fulfillment and warehousing and shipping and delivery services out of DHL’s primary ground hub in Wilmington, OH, to any of the 225 countries and territories to which DHL ships. The hub location allows easy access to international flights, as well as late cut-off times for orders, according to DHL.

The five-year deal is aimed squarely at what Borderlinx founder Neill O’Sullivan says is huge demand among international consumers to shop U.S. e-commerce sites. Only a small percentage of the top 500 U.S. Internet retailers ship internationally, and O’Sullivan says the deal removes two key barriers preventing U.S. e-retailers from doing so-the inability of U.S. online retailers to easily sell and ship to foreign consumers, and the reluctance of an international shopper to complete a purchase without knowing the shipping fee.

When a U.S. merchant ties into the U.S. DHL/Borderlinx platform, consumers from abroad will see an international shipping button during the checkout process. A click of that button passes the transaction to Borderlinx, which calculates the total cost of getting the order from the merchant to the international customer, including the product price, the shipping costs and a Borderlinx service charge of about 10% of the product price.

International consumers must register and are given a unique number that stays with them through any subsequent purchase through the integrated platform. That number is attached to a U.S. address–the address of the DHL facility in Wilmington–which registered international shoppers use as their ship-to address. Once Borderlinx completes the payment transaction, including fraud screening, the shopper is passed back to the merchant’s site.

DHL receives the goods ordered by the shopper and ships them to the consumer. DHL can hold the order in its warehouse for a short time, on the instructions of the shopper-an added convenience for global consumers who expect to make other U.S. purchases soon and want to consolidate multiple orders in one shipment.

International consumers also can use the combined DHL/Borderlinx system to shop from U.S. online retailers who do not use the service by registering at Borderlinx. Consumers are given a unique identifying number and the ship-to address in Wilmington to use when placing the order. In the background, the U.S. merchant receives confirmation from the Borderlinx system that the shopper is registered and that the address and payment information are valid. Borderlinx has domestic partnerships with banks and credit card issuers as well as other local marketing to drive awareness of the program.

The weak U.S. dollar makes U.S. goods less expensive to consumers abroad, making this an opportune time for domestic e-retailers to acquire global customers, according to O’Sullivan. “I haven’t met a retailer that isn’t interested in selling outside the U.S.,” he says. “They just want to know how it can be done quickly and safely and with consistent quality of service.”

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