The list of foreign retailers (think Target, Marshall’s, Nordstrom’s and Khol’s) entering or eying the Canadian market is on the rise. What’s not to love? With US sales softening during the last couple of years while Canada experienced continued modest economic growth, it presents itself as a logical and attractive market for growing sales. Undertaking a multi million or billion expansion is great for the big corporate brands, but what about small and mid-sized players looking to gain Canadian sales? Can they get a piece of the Canadian distribution pie?
Physical Store Reach versus Fulfillment Reach
The truth is, you don’t have to “set up shop” to sell into Canada. And no, this doesn’t mean fulfilling every customer order from the US or elsewhere which can render international retailers uncompetitive. More international distributors and retailers – large and small – can set up portable warehousing and distribution points in Canada to reach a wanting Canadian consumer. A partnership with a warehousing and logistics company that specifically provides fulfillment services can be a solution.
Warehousing and Order Fulfillment – Pick Pack and Ship Orders with a 3PL Partner
Whether your sales are $100,000 annually or over one million, a 3PL partner can help fulfill customer orders so that small and mid-sized businesses (SME’s) can focus on marketing and sales. These companies take your inventory into stock and as you make sales or need to supply retailers (or your own stores/kiosks – and this includes online sales) they simply pick, pack and ship your orders directly to customers. Sounds easy? Well, there is much planning involved and a thorough cost analysis must be made, but with the right partner it can be a viable solution.
Also, this can be an interim “proof of concept” for a small but growing retailer-distributor to test the market without committing a lot of capital to pursue Canadian market development. Brand building can begin without setting foot in the country in many cases.
Key Canadian Product Distribution Hubs – Mississauga / Toronto Canada
The largest couriers in Canada – UPS, Fedex, and Purolator courier all have Greater Toronto Area distribution hubs. More packages run through these Mississauga-Toronto courier networks than anywhere in Canada. Also, it so happens that the greatest population density in Canada is the Greater Toronto Area. To expose your products and brands to the greatest number of Canadians, it makes sense to approach 3PL partners in this market. Getting your product closest to the greatest number of Canadians is a key to maintaining affordable fulfillment costs. Costs that can be saved and help in the promotion of your sales.
With international and US retailers and suppliers looking for growth, Canada makes sense for a lot of reasons. A stable social-political and economic environment and the same language means navigating Canadian based fulfillment is worth investigating. Finding the right partner to undertake your warehousing and fulfillment -picking, packing and shipping your customer orders – is key to successful execution. Now may be the time to start mapping out your future growth plans and expand into Canada with a partner who can help you navigate the logistics of it.