Online retailer delivers on the needs of parents globally with international shipping.
- Online retailer of apparel and gear for young families
- Serves parents and children from pregnancy through school age
- Content and commerce provided in a single place
- Automate processes underlying cross-border shipments
- Transfer responsibility for international shipments to a third party with relevant expertise
- Provide seamless interface so that customer experience is identical, whether in U.S. or abroad
- 20% incremental growth in revenue in first six months
- Massive expansion in reach overnight, from 1 country to potential shipping destinations in 200 different countries
- Several hours/day reclaimed for lean shipping staff
- Streamlined processes for ordering and shipping, regardless of customer location
New parents live in every corner of the globe, but those in some locales have better access to resources that help make family life more manageable. The Tot launched in 2016 to provide parents with educational content and useful products. Based in Dallas, the online store initially served U.S. customers almost exclusively, due to process inefficiencies. Customers outside the United States had to place orders via email, which was inefficient for The Tot staff and inconvenient for customers. The Tot turned to Pitney Bowes to facilitate seamless, automated international shipping through the same interface that processes U.S. orders.
The Tot is a website and online store that publishes articles on topics from fertility and maternal wellness to child nutrition and development. It pairs this content with a wide range of curated products for parents and children. When it launched, The Tot was focused on a U.S. audience, but by building a robust social media presence, it soon developed a global following.
“From the beginning, our long-term goal has been to help parents around the world give their children the healthiest upbringing possible,” says Tim Forman, director of marketing for The Tot. “That appeals to every mother in the world.”
Unfortunately, The Tot’s ecommerce system couldn’t handle cross-border shipments. Staff were spending several hours a day managing the company’s few cross-border orders. “The manual work made this process expensive for us and inconvenient for customers,” says Kathy Kipriotis, CEO of The Tot. “Still, we were getting emails every day requesting international deliveries. It was clearly a missed opportunity.”
The Tot needed assistance developing an automated and efficient process for fulfilling international sales. “We wanted to find a partner with a large network of clients in our industry,” Kipriotis says. “Different markets have different safety laws and regulations for kids’ products. We needed to work with a company that already understood how these laws and regulations worked.”
The Tot also needed to ship to a wide range of countries. China and Russia were particularly important new markets, yet some prospective fulfilment vendors excluded those nations from their offerings. Finally, The Tot needed a system that would appear seamless to customers.
After a thorough due diligence process, the company selected the Cross-Border solution platform from Pitney Bowes. “We evaluated six solutions,” Kipriotis says. “Pitney Bowes had the best technology integration by far. Even more important, we were highly impressed with the level of industry knowledge of our Pitney Bowes representatives. On our very first call, Pitney Bowes was describing all the different regulations affecting a certain product in various regions around the world.”
Via Pitney Bowes API technologies, the Tot enables consumers to shop in their local currencies without experiencing any exchange rate, fraud or chargeback risk.
During checkout, the solution displays the shipping options available for the selected delivery location, as well as customs and tax costs. Pitney Bowes validates the international customer’s payment method and coordinates shipping, providing a tracking number from the carrier. “Now, customers see the full cost of the transaction, in their local currency, the minute they place their order,” Kipriotis says.
“Pitney Bowes Cross-Border is driving a significant amount of new revenue without requiring much time or effort at all from my staff. I wish we had done it earlier.” Kathy Kipriotis,
In its first six months, The Tot shipped to customers in 38 countries. Better yet, around 20 percent of its sales over that time period originated outside the United States — and almost all of that 20 percent was incremental growth. “Our reach has gone from one country to 200,” Kipriotis says. “It’s exponential.”
It’s also highly efficient. “Before, we never wanted to say no to a sale, but I have a very lean team, and international shipping was not our core competency,” Kipriotis says. “My team is much more productive now that they don’t have to worry about manually preparing all our international shipments.”
The Tot is now evaluating other ways in which Pitney Bowes can help it streamline business processes. “The best thing about this solution is how seamless it is,” Kipriotis says. “Pitney Bowes Cross-Border is driving a significant amount of new revenue without requiring much time or effort at all from my staff. I wish we had done it earlier.”