Ecommerce Without Borders

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Prior to bpost’s interest in buying the company, James Cartledge spoke with Landmark Global VP of international ecommerce, John Jensen, about getting a cross-border shipping service right.

The global ecommerce market is booming, but there are hints that in mature markets like Britain, Japan and the United States the growth rates may start to slow.

Retail trade group IMRG says growth in these markets is still running at 10-15%, but with the “inevitable” slowing of the major markets, and with high competition in domestic markets, it very much recommends merchants begin looking abroad to understand where future opportunities lie.

In the United States, international buying on US ecommerce websites grew 20% from 2008 to 2010.

Research firm comScore said retailers J.Crew and Abercrombie&Fitch have respectively 14% and 36% of visitors to their US websites from outside the United States at the moment, while the average is around 7%, with the UK and Australia the largest markets outside North America for US e-retailers.

Asia-Pacific, Latin America, eastern Europe and the Middle East are now among those regions where there is “substantial” growth opportunities for merchants according to IMRG, particularly thanks to booming sales of web-connected mobile phones in the emerging economies of the world.

It is with this context in mind that parcel providers like Landmark Global are finding a good niche in helping ecommerce merchants in the United States reach these areas of potential.

Based in Santa Barbara, Southern California, Landmark was founded by Dave Mays in 2005, with a core speciality of shipping parcels from the US into Canada.

The company has grown in leaps and bounds over the last seven years, and currently has about 75 employees and nine facilities across the US and Canada, including four that provide pick-and-pack fulfillment services. Shipping around 2.5m parcels a year, expectations are of reaching the 3m mark in 2012.

Since 2009, the company has experienced exponential growth, and still sees plenty of growth available in its core North American market. Earlier this year the firm sealed an important alliance with Texas-based shipping firm Newgistics to help its customers sell to Canada.

But in the last 12 months, a new phase has seen Landmark Global pushing outwards into new markets outside of North America.

New markets

Landmark Global VP international ecommerce, John Jensen

John Jensen, the ex-Purolator executive who joined Landmark Global as VP of international e-commerce this year to drive the new growth strategy into new markets, says it was a “natural fit” for the company to respond its clients’ ambitions to ship into more countries.

To begin with, the company’s business is primarily focused on English-speaking countries, where there is no language barrier and where online shoppers have a high recognition for the kind of US brands Landmark Global is shipping.

“We’re really seeing Australia become the next ‘Canada’, from a business perspective,” he says. “In my time here, we’re seeing that it’s the first place the majority of our clients want to go to.

“They are familiar with our brands and are seeking out those products from US-based websites, and there are some favourable duty benefits for the Australan consumer.”

The UK and other EU countries, as well as Asia, are also on the Landmark Global radar, as the company looks to grow its roughly $50m annual revenues four- or five-fold in the next few years.

Jensen says the typical product being shipped through Landmark Global is above $50 in value, dutiable and taxable – items like shoes, fashion, natural health products, from pure-play ecommerce merchants and those that also have a brick-and-mortar presence.

With the power that some of the global integrators have, Jensen says the key to competing is providing strong customer service and flexibility with shipping and the integration of IT systems with clients’ ecommerce platforms.

Carrier neutral

A carrier neutral model, driven by proprietary software platform Mercury, means the company can use the best service available for whichever country clients are looking to reach.

“If our customer wants an express service or a standard service – depending on what they need – we partner with the best integrated courier or postal authority in whichever country we’re going to,” he says.

Landmark Global currently sees about 95% of its activity in the shipment of business-to-consumer parcels, and in making this market work from a logistics point of view, flexibility is very much the watch-word.

More than a few parcel shippers servicing ecommerce merchants have struggled from sudden surges in consumer demand – at the peak festive period or in occasional sales and when new products are launched.

But Jensen says Landmark has been in business long enough, and has sufficient experience in the team to know where to position resources to cope with the festive surge.

“Being a bonded carrier we are moving some of our own equipment as well as purchasing it from vendors or resources,” he says. “Whether we’re flying it or buying dedicated cargo space, we’ve had enough growth, and we know our customers’ volume.”

Planning for the peak tends to assume volumes will overshoot expectations, but Jensen says it is relationships with vendors that are important in ensuring volumes go through, along with a flexible approach that the carrier neutral model allows.

This flexibility is also important from a contingency point of view – ecommerce merchants might understand that delivery companies occasionally experience problems or delays, but consumers do not look that far into the details of how their product should arrive.

“Being carrier neutral, if there’s a carrier that as a problem, we’re agile enough to deal with it,” he says. “When there’s been service disruptions with postal authorities or integrators, we can switch, and we can get away from that problem.”

No one is entirely immune to the phenomenal growth of holiday-season home delivery, but Jensen says Landmark Global has been able to keep up with demand.

“Our customers definitely push volumes during the fourth quarter. The contingency plans that we have – and being carrier neutral affords us the ability to move – means we get the packages delivered within the time standards that our customers have purchased from us.”

When it comes to ecommerce these days, it’s not merely enough for customers to receive their products within the agreed timeframe – many want to track the progress of their shipment along the way. With cross-border ecommerce, where layers of doubt and uncertainty of the average online shopper, full visibility systems can be really important to boost consumer confidence in the process.

Jensen says there are some customers that don’t need tracking, but the “vast majority” want a full visibility system.

“Everything is track-and-traceable within our system,” he says. “Our shippers want to have full visibility, because their customers – the ecommerce customer – isn’t calling Landmark, they’re calling the ecommerce company’s customer service line to find out where the package is. So our client has to be able to use our Mercury system to see full details of where that order is, regardless of which country it is in, or which agent or vendor is delivering it.”

Integrated service

“We haven’t tapped into nearly as many markets as we can”

With the ability to provide order processing and fulfillment, along with customs clearance, Jensen says the company can take care of the full distribution chain for its ecommerce clients.

As many are finding in the cross-border ecommerce segment, offering an all-in landed cost for consumers to pay as they are buying the product is important to repeat custom. Jensen describes the Mercury software system as the “backbone” of the company’s service to ecommerce customers, providing the integration with customers and carriers.

“Our software Mercury facilitates a number of things: the hosted checkout, where a customer’s database can interact with the software, and facilitate that landed cost, as well produce the label that is specifically needed for shipping to wherever the product is going.”

He says the demand from US ecommerce customers for a simple integrated purchase process is also being seen from European consumers, Australian shoppers and in Asia as well.

“Customers need that turn-key, hosted checkout application, so the consumer anywhere can have a shopping cart and know what their landed cost is going to be, so it can simply be delivered,” he says.

Shipping into Canada, Landmark Global is a bonded carrier with its own custom brokerage house, Landmark trade Services. Going into new foreign markets, Jensen says the company has been working through partnerships with local vendors.

“We’re very cautious about walking before we start running,” he says, noting the importance of local knowledge when venturing into a new country.

One lesson drawn from operating across the Canadian border has been developing an electronic approach to customs data that can potentially be applied to other countries, eliminating paperwork and simplifying the shipping process along the way.

With a smart IT system underlining all transactions, and a firm priority on customer service, Jensen says the sky is the limit for Landmark Global in applying its cross-border expertise to the global consumer desire for American brand names.

“We have a deep-rooted belief that the international markets that we haven’t tapped into are really going to expand our business,” he says. “We haven’t tapped into nearly as many markets as we can.”


bpost in talks to buy US ecommerce shipper Landmark Global

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Belgium’s national postal operator bpost is in talks to buy a majority stake in a US company that specialises in shipping ecommerce packages cross-border.

California-based Landmark Global was founded in 2005 as a third-party parcel shipper arranging business-to-consumer shipments into Canada, working to a large degree for US ecommerce merchants.

Based on a carrier-neutral business model, and with its own proprietary software platform, Mercury, in seven years the company has grown to a workforce of 75, with a turnover believed to be about $50m a year.

Landmark currently has its headquarters in Santa Barbara, California, while its network includes facilities in both the US and Canada, in California, Washington, Utah, Michigan, New York, Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.

Four of its facilities provide fulfillment services for merchants.

Over the past 12 months, Landmark has been expanding its business more into markets outside North America, including shipping to Australia. It has also formed a partnership with Texas-based Newgistics, providing US to Canada shipping services for Newgistics customers.

bpost confirmed to Post&Parcel today that it was in talks to buy a controlling share of the company, but a spokesman said there had been no agreement yet, and as a result could not say when the deal might be concluded.

The two companies are discussing the acquisition of a majority share of both Landmark Global Inc. itself, and also Landmark Trade Services, the subsidiary based in Ontario, Canada, which includes customs brokerage capabilities.

Landmark Global said due diligence is ongoing, with a binding contract yet to be signed and approved by the boards of Landmark Distribution LLC and bpost.

A spokesperson for Landmark told Post&Parcel that a letter had gone out to alert customers to the discussions between the two companies, but otherwise it was very much business as usual for Landmark’s business.

North American strength

bpost, the postal operator 50% (plus one controlling share) owned by the Belgian state, with the remaining shares held by CVC Capital Partners, already operates in the United States through its subsidiary Mail Services International, which is based close to Washington Dulles Airport and also helps customers ship items abroad.

Piet Van Speybroeck, the bpost spokesman, explained that his company’s interest in Landmark Global was on similar grounds to its acquisition of MSI three years ago.

He said that with MSI’s facilities based on the Eastern side of the US and Canada, Landmark Global would provide a stronger presence on the Western side of North America.

“The reasoning and logic is the same – to expand our business in North America and in ecommerce,” he said.

“Landmark is very well focussed on the western US and on business up to Canada. They might benefit from our network. We would have access to a booming business in the US and North America.”

The past 12 months has seen bpost pursuing a particular strategy that focuses on ecommerce and parcels, including through its new brand bpack, while becoming less interested in the digital mail side of the business.

Last month the company sold much of its digital document and e-invoicing subsidiary Certipost.

Source: James Cartledge, Post&Parcel

bpost and Landmark Global Discuss Potential Acquisition

SANTA BARBARA, California, October 30, 2012- Landmark Distribution LLC is pleased to announce that it has started discussions with bpost, the Belgian postal operator, with respect to the possible acquisition of a majority share of the California (USA) based Landmark Global Inc. and the Ontario (Canada) based Landmark Trade Services. Due diligence and negotiation of the terms of a possible acquisition are ongoing. A binding contract for such acquisition is still to be signed and is subject to approval by the respective boards of Landmark Distribution, LLC and bpost.

Landmark Global Announces Hire of Mike Graham

SANTA BARBARA, CA, September 20, 2012- Landmark Global has announced the appointment of Mike Graham as Director of Business Development.  Mike Graham brings a wealth of experience to Landmark Global in the cross-border parcel and postal industry. Graham’s previous positions include DHL Global Mail and his most recent role was at XPO (Express Postal Options) as Director of Business Development. His current position at Landmark Global will focus on driving the continued growth within the western United States and internationally. “As we expand our North American and international footprint, the hiring of talent such as Mike Graham, reflects our commitment to excellence and experience,” says Dave Mays, CEO.

Landmark Global most recently announced the hire of John Jensen as Vice President, International, e-Commerce who was previously at Purolator. Mike Graham will be working with John Jensen to promote Landmark Global’s international service offerings such as: hosted check-out, landed cost calculations, both duty paid and duty unpaid models and customs collect.

Landmark Global expands ecommerce shipping to all countries

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

US e-commerce shipping company Landmark Global has appointed an ex-Purolator director to lead an expansion of its parcel delivery services around the world.

The California-based cross-border business-to-consumer third-party logistics company has specialised in shipping parcels from US-origin websites into Canada since it began business seven years ago.

It began opening that service up to other English-speaking countries last year, but is now extending its services to deliver to all countries across the globe, working with carrier partners in each country.

The firm has now appointed former Purolator director of sales John Jensen to lead the international expansion, as vice president of international e-commerce.

Jensen, who brings more than 20 years of sales, operations, e-commerce and international experience to his new role, including time at UPS, said: “International markets provide significant growth potential with consumers familiar with purchasing online and from US-based websites.”

“Our product offerings, coupled with an easy, fast implementation process, offer merchants a seamless solution to opening these markets and driving sales.”

Ecommerce sales in the US have been growing by more than 15% a year since the recession of 2008-09, when growth remained positive. Analysts project growth of more than 13% in 2012, with ecommerce still representing only around 5% of total retail sales in America.

While as many as three quarters of US ecommerce websites sell to Canada, increasingly even smaller retailers are seeing the potential for expansion beyond North America.

From 2008 to 2010, even through the recession, international buying on US ecommerce websites grew 20%, leaving around 7% of sales on US websites originating from overseas, with the UK and Australia the largest markets other than Canada.


With its head office in Santa Barbara, Landmark Global moves around 2.5m parcels into Canada each year, with around 95% of its business on the e-commerce side of the business-to-consumer market.

The company has been expanding significantly over the past year with new warehouse locations in Buffalo, New York, and Mississauga, Ontario, and boosting its customs capabilities through the acquisition of DL Zinn Customs Brokers Ltd back in October. Earlier this year, the company partnered with Texas-based shipping provider Newgistics to support its new US-Canada cross-border service.

Landmark Global began offering its delivery services to countries like Australia from last year, maintaining a “carrier neutral” policy internationally, while offering B2C shippers service features including track and trace, pre-paid customs brokerage and returns logistics.

For e-commerce retailers, the international service also offers the possibility of hosted check-out facilities, landed cost calculations and either duty-paid or duty-unpaid cross-border models.

Landmark Global said the approach meant its clients could get involved in as much, or as little, of the foreign transaction as they wish.

Some of the key international potential could come with Asia, with the company set to manage both shipments to Asia and returns inbound into the US through its southern California location.

Julie-Anne Fiore, the vice president of marketing at Landmark Global, told Post&Parcel that her company had been experiencing “exponential” growth and expansion since 2009, and that while the overwhelming majority of the firm’s shipments currently go to Canada, there were obvious synergies in helping clients expand to new international markets.

“In 2011, we opened delivery services to other English speaking countries and enjoyed a strong market response to this offering,” she explained.

“We hope to continue our growth, success and client loyalty as we enter a new phase of providing more e-commerce resources to the US merchant population.”

Source: Post&Parcel/Landmark Global

Landmark Global Opens Buffalo, NY location

TORONTO, Ontario, Canada- July 17, 2012: Landmark Global has opened an additional cross border facility located in Buffalo, NY. This facility will handle cross dock, parcel processing and returns logistics for Canadian shipments. Landmark Global recently announced a partnership with Newgistics to offer Canadian delivery and returns services to Canada. The Newgistics partnership utilizes Landmark Global’s expert brokerage services, logistics reach, and longtime partnership with Canada Post.

The Buffalo location will support faster delivery times to Canada for shippers located in the northeastern part of the US, as well as other Landmark Global service offerings including:

*1-7 business day delivery to all Canadian provinces at competitive rates: Parcels are received at the Buffalo facility and inducted into the Canada Post and courier networks that night
*Door-to-Door tracking: Landmark Global’s proprietary software, Mercury, allows clients to monitor delivery progress and trace parcels
*Customs clearance: Complete border and tax compliance
*Hosted checkout, customs collect and other e-commerce solutions
*Reverse logistics: returns management with full duty and tax recovery

Landmark Global’s other locations include: Ontario, California; Seattle, Washington; Salt Lake City, Utah; Taylor, Michigan; Romulus, Michigan; Toronto, Ontario (Canada); Windsor, Ontario (Canada) and two exclusive returns facilities in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada) and Calgary, Alberta (Canada).


Newgistics Now Offers Delivery and Return Services to Canada through Landmark Global

New services to Canada simplify complex logistics involved in selling to Canada and provide positive customer experience to drive repeat purchases

AUSTIN, Texas—April 16, 2012— Newgistics, a leading provider of small parcel delivery, returns management and freight shipping services, today announced it now offers delivery and returns services to and from the United States and Canada for U.S.-based retailers, brands and e-Commerce merchants. Newgistics has partnered with Landmark Global for its expert brokerage services, logistics reach, and longtime partnership with Canada Post to ensure Canadian customers have a positive shipping experience when purchasing U.S. goods online or via catalog.
High international shipping costs and the complexity of shipping to a foreign country have historically presented barriers to U.S.-based retailers and e-Commerce merchants looking to expand to Canada. Newgistics’ new Canadian shipping service simplifies the process and eliminates these concerns, enabling merchants to tap into a new market hungry for American goods and to provide a positive customer experience that drives repeat purchases and customer referrals.
Newgistics’ technology platform simplifies the complex logistics that have previously made shipping to Canada difficult for merchants, including duties on deliveries, taxes, receiving returns and customs clearance requirements.
Benefits of Newgistics’ delivery and returns service to Canada include:
*Seamless electronics customs clearance eliminates paperwork problems and accelerates the process by providing documentation to customs before the shipment reaches the border.
*Prepaid returns shipping label with Newgistics SmartLabel® make returns easy. Canadian consumers simply apply a prepaid shipping label to their package and drop it at any Canada Post location.
*Door-to-door tracking visibility with Newgistics Shipment Manager™ helps improve labor planning, inventory management and asset-recovery rates, as merchants are notified of parcels returning from Canada via Transit Triggers™.
*Competitive transit times at cost-effective rates: Canadian consumers can expect 3-7 day delivery to all Canadian provinces and territories. Outgoing parcels ship through Newgistics’ centralized distribution centers, where parcels are transferred to Landmark Global. Following customs inspection, Canada Post will make the final delivery.
*Better customer engagement with branded marketing messages and customer websites help merchants reach customers in new ways. Newgistics’ Transit Triggers allows merchants to send personalized messages to consumers based on specific actions. For example, if a consumer makes a return, the merchant could send a coupon for a future purchase to try to recapture the sale.


Landmark Global Announces Expansion to International Markets

Landmark Global has announced the expansion of parcel delivery solution to International Markets

SANTA BARBARA, California, November 21, 2011- Building on success with shipments from the US into Canada, Landmark Global is now offering an International solution. Cornerstone to services for the North American market, such as full track and trace, customs clearance and returns logistics, Landmark Global is now replicating this for International markets. “The pricing model that we’ve built for our Canadian, Australian and Latin American markets is one that we will have in place for all markets around the globe,” says Dave Mays, President of Landmark Global. “The reporting, integrity and data management responsibilities will continue to allow Landmark Global to provide best-in-class International parcel solutions.”  The launching of International solutions will allow seamless entry into new markets.


Landmark Global Opens Mississauga, ON location

Landmark Global has announced the opening of a second Canadian location

TORONTO, ON, CANADA, October 31, 2011- Landmark Global has opened a second Canadian facility located in Mississauga, ON. This facility will handle cross dock, will call, parcel processing and returns logistics for Canadian shipments. “Our Mississauga warehouse is centered at the transportation hub for Canadian logistics,” according to Dave Mays, President of Landmark Global. The new Mississauga location location will handle all trans-border and International shipments arriving via highway and air carrier and is minutes away from Toronto Pearson Airport and major Canadian highways.


Landmark Global Announces Acquisition of D L Zinn Customs Brokers Ltd.

Landmark Global has announced the acquisition of D L Zinn Customs Brokers Ltd. in Leamington, ON, Canada. D L Zinn Customs Brokers will now be known as Landmark Trade Services Ltd.

TORONTO, ON, CANADA, October 31, 2011- “The purchase was the next logical step in continuing to enhance the customer/merchant experience when shipping to Canada from US origin(s),” according to Dave Mays, President, Landmark Global.  Landmark Global has built a Northbound parcel infrastructure that enables over 2 million parcels to ship into Canada annually, requiring precise management of data and package content. Landmark Trade Services is fully dedicated to representing these packages with the Canadian Border Services Agency and creating a compliant customs clearance experience. As border security and accountability is paramount for both CBSA/CCRA and the US Customs & Dept of Homeland Security, Landmark Global is taking steps toward a fully closed-looped system compliant with Partners in Protection and Carrier/Courier Bonded requirements. The reporting, integrity and data management responsibilities will continue to allow Landmark Global to provide best-in-classs transborder parcel solutions.

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