On Friday, Lloyd’s Loading List ran an exclusive article about Panalpina’s new end-to-end e-commerce platform. The solution is highly scalable, flexible and modular. By partnering with Intershop, a leading German provider of omni-channel e-commerce services for B2C and B2B, Panalpina also makes sure that its e-commerce customers always get to use the very latest technology. “This way, our customers don’t have to worry about constant software upgrades for their web shops, which can still be fully customized,” says Peter Szabados, Panalpina’s global head of transit and who developed the company’s e-commerce solution.
Tying in with the article in Lloyd’s Loading List, Szabados elaborates on who can benefit from Panalpina’s global end-to-end e-commerce solution.
“To begin with, there are the businesses that do not sell their products online yet, but would like to do so,” says Szabados. “Typically, this could be a small or medium-sized business that wants to grow outside its traditional channels. With us, they can expand quickly into the online channel without first having to acquire specialized e-commerce knowledge. We can guide them through the entire process, starting with a small operation and then growing together as sales pick up.”
There is, of course, an array of businesses already selling online. Panalpina groups these businesses in four categories.
The first category comprises companies that want to expand their online presence geographically. “Think of a company, for example, that is well established in Europe but now wants to expand in Asia. We have the capability to open market-specific online sales channels for this customer fast and easily, and our global presence enables us to set up the local fulfillment center in one of our existing warehouses. We can then add payment services, tax calculators, or even provide call center services in the region,” explains Szabados.
The second category consists of companies that work with their own in-house e-commerce platform or one which is hosted on the premises. “There is a great number of companies out there that were among the very first to sell their products online, but now find themselves in a situation where the technology they use is outdated and no longer supports a modern online buying experience.” According to Szabados they have a choice to make: “They can either upgrade their existing platform, which can be a difficult or even impossible task, or opt for a completely new technological backbone.”
Then there are companies that simply want to focus on their core competencies and not have to deal with everything that e-commerce entails. “Companies of this third category may choose to outsource the entire handling of their online sales channel including technical support, upgrades and ongoing store management,” says Szabados.
Last but not least, there are companies that sell their products on third-party platforms such as Amazon or Alibaba. This is the fourth category of companies that already capitalize on e-commerce. Szabados sees one major reason why companies doing online business this way might reconsider their options: “With third-party platforms you cannot build and manage your brand in the same way that you can with a customized web shop and everything behind it. It’s just not the same in terms of brand identity and experience. You follow, you don’t lead.”
In the near future, any company that wants to stay competitive and ahead of the curve, will have to put a robust online sales strategy in place and execute it – either on its own or with outside help.
For Szabados it is clear which of these options will get the upper hand: “With a global and customizable end-to-end e-commerce solution as we now provide it, setting up shop in the virtual world has never been easier and more enticing.”