Some retailers launched online deals well in advance of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
The e-retailer recently began shipping to Chile, Peru, Greece and Russia.
DrJays.com, a web-only retailer of street-fashion apparel for young adults, considers itself an entrepreneurial company that likes to quickly respond to new market opportunities, says director of marketing Debbie Pereira. So when it noticed shoppers from Russia browsing its private-label Psyberia brand of jackets and boots, it turned to i-parcel LLC, a shipping services provider it considers just as entrepreneurial and flexible as DrJays, she adds.
“We’re nimble and like to partner with other companies like that also,” Pereira says.
“We told i-parcel we wanted to ship to Russia, and while the country was not high on their list, they made it happen for us,” Pereira says. Now that DrJays ships there, business with the Psyberia-buying Russians is brisk. “Russia is definitely growing for us,” she says, declining to be more specific.
Within the past two years, she notes, DrJays, No. 194 in the Internet Retailer Top 500, has worked with i-parcel to start shipping into about 20 countries—most recently, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Greece.
I-parcel also ships to many of the other 76 countries served by DrJays, which also ships internationally via FedEx Corp. and the United States Postal Service.
Although DrJays is privately held and doesn’t release sales figures, its international sales volume doubled within the first two years after it began working with i-parcel in 2010, Jean Charles, the retailer’s co-founder and chief financial officer, says.
Including i-parcel in the mix of carriers, Periera adds, provides DrJays’ customers with more options in terms of price and delivery times.
While FedEx and USPS offer reliable service, Pereira says, i-parcel is usually the lowest-cost option for both DrJays and its customers. In addition to Russia, DrJays also relies solely on i-parcel to ship to Brazil, South Africa and Indonesia.
I-parcel also provides an international service not available through FedEx and USPS—the ability of online retail customers to see their full, delivered cost before clicking to complete a purchase. Foreign customers who ship via FedEx typically get faster delivery, but don’t see the customs duties they’ll have to pay until their package arrives, Pereira says. She notes that foreign customers may pay up to 60% of their order in duty fees.
The combination of offering lower shipping fees and showing up front the total delivered cost through i-parcel, Pereira adds, has led to an increase in the retailer’s number of customers and orders from outside the U.S.
Unlike FedEx and other carriers, which use their own fleets of aircraft and trucks, i-parcel ships products to 93 countries via available space on commercial airlines and through local delivery companies in foreign countries. I-parcel managing partner and co-founder Will Gensburg says i-parcel’s business model enables it to ship, say, a two-pound sweater from one of i-parcel’s U.S. distribution hubs to the United Kingdom and charge the merchant as little as $9.70, or a one-pound package for the same price to a more distant country. I-parcel maintains distribution hubs in Los Angeles, Indianapolis and Newark, NJ. Retailers provide their own shipping to an i-parcel hub, but retailers’ online shoppers see the full cost of shipping when they place an order, including what it costs the merchant to ship the item to i-parcel.
One downside to using Burlington, MA-based i-parcel, however, is that its use of other companies to carry orders can lead to delays, Pereira says. That happened recently in Australia, she notes, where late deliveries were causing customers to complain, including in posts to social media sites.
Nonetheless, she adds, i-parcel quickly addressed the matter and worked with the local delivery companies to improve service.
I-parcel ships packages of up to 66 pounds, though most are under 30 pounds, the company says. It enables retailers to track deliveries online, and it compensates retailers if shipments get lost, Gensburg says. For its shipping services, i-parcel earns revenue on the difference between its own costs to ship products and what it charges retailers, he says.
I-parcel, which has 19 retailer clients, including Toys ‘R’ Us Inc., No. 29 in the Internet Retailer Top 500, posted $49.98 million in revenue last year, nearly double 2011’s revenue of $25.30 million, Gensburg says.
For clients such as Toys ‘R’ Us, i-parcel also offers services in addition to shipping, including processing international payments through an arrangement with payment services provider GlobalCollect. For those services, i-parcel charges transaction fees plus a revenue share based on volume.