By Becky Clark, CEO, NetDespatch

The world is getting smaller. Borders less defined. And for businesses, now more than ever the world is their oyster. International shipments are constantly rising with more consumers willing to purchase products from abroad. Global business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce sales will hit $1.5 trillion this year, which is a 20.1% increase from 2013, according to eMarketer's latest forecast.

Latest figures show that the Asia-Pacific region’s e-commerce sector, driven by the huge Chinese market, has outstripped Europe’s online shopping industry for the first time. The European market is also continuing to enjoy strong progress, growing by 16% to €363.1 billion in 2013 and it’s expected to bring revenue of €425.5 billion this year. And with online retail sales now accounting for around 5.7% of Europe’s entire retail market and 264 million e-shoppers spending an average of €1300 each every year, the potential for carriers is undeniable.

The news that more UK retailers are now selling overseas and 67% are offering an international delivery service, is music to my ears.

In the third International E-commerce Delivery Report commissioned by Royal Mail and technology vendor Micros it was revealed that the choice of delivery options is increasing while the cost to shoppers of ordering from international markets is potentially decreasing. And some 31% of 112 retailers surveyed offered the choice of standard and express delivery services for international customers, up from 18% in 2012. So positive news indeed!

Making the global market accessible for all

For domestic couriers, expanding beyond borders and into the global market can be a daunting prospect. As 37.3% of the world’s population flocks to the internet, businesses large and small are finding that the online market is as valuable as ever, but struggling to balance the cost associated with such a competitive market. Global barriers between territories have been known to slow down shipping efforts and cause unnecessary headaches.

To tap into this global market, a retailer, courier or carrier needs an IT system that specialises in supplier selection and automated integration. However, until a few years ago, when organisations had to rely on their own proprietary and investment-hungry IT solution, the global market would only have been accessible to the few. But as with so many industries, Cloud technology is revolutionising the way things can be done. And the global market is now accessible to all, regardless of their size.

Technology seeding international growth

Thanks to Cloud technology, innovative and sophisticated parcel shipping systems are now available that take the strain and complexity out of international trade by generating specific in-country labelling formats, producing the correct customs documentation, ensuring that returns are dealt with effectively and addressing the challenge of multiple IT systems all with their own idiosyncrasies including language, currency and time zones.

Marketplaces are expanding all over the world as technology networks parcel carriers, retailers and customers together into a seamless international supply chain. We are living in a world that depends on logistics and an integrated supply chain – the key to this is accurate, efficient processing of information, and continuing innovation in operational methods.

Asendia UK is a great example of this. Born in 2012 when La Poste UK, Swiss Post, BTB Mailflight were to be joined in 2013 by Pitney Bowes International Mail Services UK, Asendia is now one of the world’s leading companies for the distribution of international mail to over 200 countries. Key to its success is a cloud-based shipping platform for domestic and international postal and parcel carriers which allow carriers to set rules for the use of their in-country delivery partners, based on destination postcode, country, weight, dimensions and so on. This means that their customers – major online retailers – are able to print the correct destination shipping labels and documentation at the point of despatch, ensuring that their parcels will be delivered to the correct destination and through the correct service.

Thanks to advancements brought about by Cloud computing borders are becoming seamless and retailers and carriers large and small are now enjoying the spoils of our global economy simply by accessing sophisticated but easy to use technology which ensures customers’ parcels and packages reach their destination on time, every time. What’s not to like?