Team Worldwide, a mid-sized freight forwarder based in Texas, is in the process of stepping up its warehousing footprint in Asia. The company's second distribution centre outside its home market is nearing completion in Hong Kong, and management is considering building a third one in Singapore.
"We're looking at establishing order fulfilment centres around the world. This will allow our customers to move inventory closer to market," said Bob Imbriani, vice-president of corporate development.
A major reason behind the forwarder's strategy is the anticipated globalisation of e-commerce, namely on-line shopping. Imbriani sees tremendous growth potential in this segment.
Traditionally on-line merchants in North America have eschewed international sales, as they were not prepared to take on the complexities of exchange rate issues, international shipping and return logistics.
The prospect of tepid growth in the US has more companies looking to the international arena, but retailers are still reluctant to sell to overseas customers. Besides the more challenging logistics, they have been daunted by the prospect of getting involved in the intricacies of varying tax regimes in different countries, such as having to collect value-added tax in some markets, observed Albert Saphir, president of supply chain management specialists ABS Consulting.