exporto: making borders disappear

exporto is a third-party logistics (3PL) company based in Germany, Switzerland and the UK. With its roots in the border area of four countries, exporto is very familiar with the complexities of shipping goods between countries. It now works with over 100 eCommerce companies, automating their customs and tax processes to make their entire supply chain more efficient.

exporto borderless ecommerce logo

Shipping to and from the UK post-Brexit

When the UK left the EU in 2021, many European mainland retailers chose to withdraw from the UK market to avoid the hassle of additional regulations and higher shipping costs. That meant missing out on exporting to a major market – especially as cross-border shopping in the UK increased after Brexit with many UK shoppers finding lower prices outside.

However, hundreds of shrewd German retailers are now working with 3PL logistics experts like exporto and are enjoying the benefits of easy shipping to the UK via Intersoft and Royal Mail.

Enjoying the benefits

exporto Chief Commercial Officer Kathrin Hosl explains: “Our core business is customs declarations and line haul management. We work with hundreds of retail customers across areas such as fashion, cosmetics, jewellery and food supplements. We pick their goods up from their warehouses and do a cross stock – scanning and relabelling packages if necessary to meet the export regulations for Switzerland and the UK.

“Our customers are unaware that we’re liaising with various service providers along the whole supply chain. We ensure all their parcels are delivered safely and legally with the last line carrier in the destination country. To maximise efficiencies and keep costs as low as possible for our customers, we try to have scalable solutions and work with service providers who have established interfaces.”

exporto shipping label scanning

Growing number of shipments creating problems

However, problems arose when exporto found itself dealing with a growing number of shipments to the UK. Its retail customers were working with different platforms and ERP systems, and this was throwing up problems with exporto’s preferred UK carrier, Royal Mail. Documentations weren’t always correct, and goods weren’t getting to UK consumers as fast and as easily as they should.

Plus, having to onboard its customers to the Royal Mail system was proving to be a long and complex process for exporto – especially as many customers use different ERP and warehousing systems.

So, in May 2023, Intersoft stepped in to solve the problem.

Working with Intersoft and Sapient

Intersoft’s Sapient API connects retailers to Royal Mail carrier services directly, automatically creating the right shipping documentation and printing both destination and return labels.

Led by Intersoft’s Beata Brewer and with a start date planned for July 2023, Intersoft worked alongside exporto to onboard the 30 German-based retailers using exporto’s cross border services to ship to the UK.

Smooth onboarding

The customers Royal Mail service are automatically pulled into their Sapient shipping account during the onboarding process.

“I’ve never known an onboarding process like it,” says Kathrin.

“The technical processes and documentation were so good, we were actually up and running with Intersoft in June. If any customers had problems printing the right labels, Intersoft technical support sorted it out quickly and easily.”

Kathrin Hosl Headshot— Kathrin Hosl, Chief Commercial Officer at exporto

Shipping volumes to and from the EU

According to the Office for National Statistics, in the years since Brexit, shipping volumes between the UK and Europe have been hugely affected by new regulations and retailers adapting to the changes. In the period following the UK’s transition out of the EU, eCommerce trade saw a 40.7% (£5.6bn) fall in exports to the EU, and a 28.8% (£6.6bn) fall in imports.

But in recent years, those numbers have begun to climb. exporto alone has seen UK shipments rise by 313.46% between January 2022 and January 2023, an incredible increase.

“Our customers vary enormously,” adds Kathrin. “Some are sending around 3,000 parcels a year, others over 200,000. Being able to provide them with a physical representation in the UK, managing all their import and export paperwork, has helped us increase their and our business.

“Faster, easier onboarding encourages more customers to come to us, brings more brands to the UK, and more brands from the UK to Germany.”

exporto warehouse

Returns options and real time tracking

As well as generating the right documentation and printing delivery labels, Sapient gives exporto customers three return options – label in a box (printed with outbound label), QR codes or label sent to customers on request or customer access to an online portal, which can be branded as the retailer.

Once the main onboarding was complete and everything was working smoothly, Intersoft introduced Sapient’s real time tracking module so that customers have total transparency on the whereabouts of their goods.

Ongoing management

The initial set up is only part of the ongoing service that Intersoft provides. exporto adds around 90 new customers per year and each one has to be onboarded individually.

“It’s a two-way relationship,” says Intersoft’s Beata Brewer. “The exporto product team does a great job, too.  We’re constantly managing the processes, always checking if there are challenges and looking at other services that benefit exporto and their customers, such as UK warehousing services.”

During the time both companies have worked together, there haven’t been any interruptions or problems with the interface, and retailers’ queries have been dealt with quickly and reliably.

“We’re speaking the same language,” concludes Kathrin. “Not just on technical bases but also being aware of and understanding each other’s challenges. It feels like we’re on the same page.”