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Xpediator plans to offer overseas online delivery

[ March 16, 2018   //   ]

UK-based freight forwarder Xpediator is planning a major expansion of its EshopWedrop online delivery services and plans to extend the concept beyond Europe to destinations such as Africa or Asia, says chief executive, Stephen Blyth.

Xpediator, whose forwarding activities trade under the Delamode brand, has already spent over £300,000 developing the concept, whereby consumers in countries with little or no online retailing services can nominate a delivery point in another country, with Xpediator taking care of the delivery from there to the final destination. It has already the concept into the Baltic region, using its existing road services, and now plans to extend the concept further through franchising, says Blyth, who has taken personal charge of developing EshopWedrop.

Xpediator’s acquisition strategy is also geared to expansion of the concept, says Blyth. One of the company’s next two acquisitions in the UK is likely to be a Heathrow-based freight forwarder, he says, possibly at about Easter time. He is also planning further acquisitions of forwarders in Europe. Blyth says that Xpediator is now the only publicly listed freight forwarder in the UK, and this factor has allowed it to pursue an aggressive acquisition strategy, he says.

EshopWedrop franchisees would most likely be courier firms able to perform ‘last mile’ deliveries, coupled with the ability to collect freight charges, he added.

Initial efforts will focus on expanding the concept further into Europe, where the additional delivery using Xpediator’s road services is no more than 20 cents a kilo. Costs of airfreighting goods to consumers in more distant destinations will be higher, but Blyth is convinced that there is a ready market of consumers willing to pay a premium, especially as the EshopWedrop service would include an easy-to-use and affordable returns service.

Target markets could include overseas expatriate communities, but there are also opportunities among e-commerce retailers wishing to extend their reach into new markets without investing in expensive infrastructure and delivery networks themselves. A service such as EshopWedrop  would be typically half the cost of using an express parcels carrier, says Blyth.

Consumers may need to pay customs duties, but in many countries de minimus levels are quite generous – $800 in the US, for example – and many private online purchases would fall below this threshold, he says.

EshopWedrop is also doing brisk business into the Baltics, says Blyth, where many consumers buy from UK retailer Tesco’s website, taking advantage of the UK’s VAT zero-rating of goods such as nappies or cycle helmets. The tax saving more than offsets the extra delivery charge, he says.

He added that service had also attracted customers in Byelorussia, who nominate an EshopWedrop delivery point in Vilnius and travel across the border to collect their purchases.

Clearly, patterns of trade could change if the UK finds itself outside the EU customs union after Brexit, although EshopWedrop would also be able to serve consumers buying from online retailers based elsewhere in Europe, Blyth said.

Xpediator is also holds the Pallex franchise in Romania, a business which has expanded from no more than 46,000 pallets a year in 2012 to over 50,000 a month currently. The company is planning to offer neighbouring Moldova as an add-on service and is also plans to develop the rather smaller pallet delivery market in Hungary, where it also holds the franchise.

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