International Shipping: What Is the Hybrid Shipping Model

Do a quick online search of ways to save money on small business shipping and you will find a few common suggestions. One of them, for companies that ship internationally, is to use a hybrid shipper. If you are not sure what the hybrid model is, you’re not alone. Many small business owners arrange for shipping without actually knowing how packages reach their final destinations.

The hybrid model has one clear advantage: it offers accessibility to far more destinations. The hybrid model utilizes multiple carriers to facilitate door-to-door delivery in as many locales as possible. It represents a big win for ecommerce operators who rely on serving divergent markets for their survival.

More Than One Carrier

At the heart of the hybrid model are all the carriers involved in getting a package to its destination. There is obviously more than one. Having said that, there is no single way to operate the hybrid model. Carriers can align themselves in several different ways.

One hybrid model is the model that Germany-based DHL utilizes. DHL has created an international network of authorized resellers that assist the company in providing service across the world. Preferred Shipping, out of Sugar Land, TX (visit their website here) is one of their authorized international shipping resellers. Preferred Shipping picks up packages, puts them into the DHL system and then lets the network take over. Various network resellers get the package to its destination.

Another hybrid model might involve several different shipping companies along with local post offices at both origin and destination. The post office picks up the package and forwards it to a local carrier. That carrier inserts the package into its global partner’s network. Ultimately, the package goes through two or three different carriers before ending up at a local post office on the other end. The post office handles last mile delivery.

Partners vs. Resellers

Though the difference may seem semantic, a distinction should be drawn between shipping partners and resellers. You may have two shippers that agree to work with one another as partners. They are both independent companies doing things in different ways. You are trusting both to do whatever is necessary to get your packages where they need to go.

A shipping reseller is a company that sells the services of another carrier. That is what Preferred Shipping does. They resell DHL services. The benefit of going with a reseller is having the reputation and strength of the primary carrier behind the service. Preferred Shipping must meet DHL standards in order to act as a reseller. If they provide poor service that reflects negatively on the DHL name, they could be dropped.

Using a Single Shipper

If a company is not accessing the hybrid shipping model, chances are it has a single shipper handling all of it packages. There are some advantages to that, including having only one company to deal with should things go wrong. But the big downside is availability.

International shipping is especially vulnerable to availability issues. What if your preferred shipper doesn’t operate in a particular area in which you want to sell? The answer is simple enough: people who live in that area cannot buy from you. Remaining exclusively with your shipper ultimately hurts your business by reducing the number of customers you have access to.

In the end, the hybrid shipping model seems to work best for small businesses that sell across borders. A hybrid model maximizes access, thereby opening the door to a larger customer pool. But the model does have its own deficiencies. It is not necessarily the right way to go in every situation.

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