TL; DR: eShipper, a brand of Canada Worldwide Services, Inc., is a one-stop shop for shipping and fulfillment operations. The company provides Canadian businesses of all sizes with a seamless and affordable shipping experience in a market typically plagued by high shipping rates. Moving forward, eShipper’s focus on cross-border services for ecommerce businesses shipping to the U.S. will help even more companies scale via competitive shipping rates in new regions.
Ecommerce has increased gradually over the past two decades in terms of both volume and global reach. By 2021, more than 2.14 billion people worldwide are expected to purchase goods and services online.
Thanks to significant internet penetration in the country, Canada is emerging as a profitable ecommerce market. Roughly 28 million Canadians made purchases online in 2019, and by 2024, revenue generated within the Canadian retail market is predicted to reach more than 33 billion in U.S. dollars.
From the perspective of ecommerce startups and small businesses, a strategic shipping strategy is a must. But between shipping rates, packaging options, tracking services, customs declarations, and fulfillment, the task can quickly become overwhelming.
That’s why eShipper, a brand of Canada Worldwide Services Inc., offers a one-stop shop for shipping services across Canada, as well as the United States and international markets. The company helps customers scale by managing each step in their supply chains and helping them anticipate associated costs.
“This idea is for our customers to let us look after the logistics and focus instead on selling and marketing their businesses,” said Imtiaz Kermali, VP of Sales and Marketing at eShipper. “If you try to become a supply chain expert while also selling products online, you’re going to run into too many issues. We will guide the customer from their early conceptual stages all the way to when the product is released and growing tenfold on a month-to-month basis.”
Moving forward, Imtiaz told us that eShipper will increase its focus on cross-border services for ecommerce businesses shipping to the U.S. — helping even more companies scale via competitive shipping rates and supply change management.
Launched to Create a Seamless Shipping Experience
eShipper, headquartered in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), was founded in 2005. But its roots go back to 1982, when current CEO Riz Kermalli began working as a courier driver in New York.
“He was doing odd jobs like driving courier vehicles and delivering packages,” Imtiaz said. “In 1989, he moved to Canada and set up a same-day business where he would deploy a fleet of drivers to pick up and deliver packages.”
In 1999, Riz started Canada Worldwide Services, eShipper’s future parent company. By 2005, four years after the September 11, 2001, attacks, Riz found himself in an increasingly regulated logistics industry with little innovation.
“After the attacks, a lot of the air freight business became stifled by regulations, causing many of the partners we were working with to either go bankrupt or decrease their services,” Imtiaz said. “So the team at Canada Worldwide Services began to look into capitalizing the future rather than focusing on the here and now.”
That year, Riz founded eShipper as a web-based tool designed to streamline the carrier rate comparison process. Over the years, he negotiated rates and built relationships with well-known global carriers, including DHL, FedEx, and UPS. He also forged partnerships with Purolator, Canada’s largest courier network, and the Canada Post.
FedEx was one of the first partners to join. “They said ‘We like your vision, and we’d love to invest,’” Imtiaz said. “So we created an API integration with FedEx to pull all of their shipping rates into one static screen. With that, basic businesses could pull in rates online and schedule pickups through the system rather than write down waybills and call carriers.”
Pick and Choose Carriers Based on Price and Transit Times
As word about eShipper spread, the company started attracting more and more carriers. “We became this household name that was allowing small businesses to not only get better shipping rates but to compare different services within one online platform,” Imtiaz said.
Today, eShipper’s team of 100-plus employees works with nearly all the major carriers in the U.S. and Canada. The company processes more than 1 million packages per year and supports over 17,000 customers. It also manages and operates two fulfillment centers with a total space of more than 100,000 square feet. eShipper uses robust warehouse management software to run its entire operations across various fulfillment centers.
“The eShipper platform allows you to ship from Canada and the U.S. to anywhere into the world and from anywhere in the world into Canada and the U.S.,” Imtiaz told us. “With our current volume, we’re able to help small businesses leverage all the different carriers and their strengths in different parts of those countries.”
The cloud-based service is simple. Businesses can set up an account in seconds using the self-serve module, receive and compare quotes from multiple carriers, print labels, and have packages picked up at their location. Tracking updates are available with just a click, and users can receive all shipping charges on a single invoice.
Ultimately, eShipper serves as the liaison between businesses and carriers.
“In terms of carriers, we’re completely agnostic,” Imtiaz said. “We want you to pick and choose the carrier that works for you when you need it. And if a shipment goes rogue, or is damaged or lost, you can contact us and our claims and customer service department will work on your behalf to find a resolution. You don’t have to spend time fighting with different carriers.”
In 2010, eShipper also entered the pallet shipping market, offering the same automated self-serve platform and end-to-end managed support as it does for small package shipments.
Helping Canadians Sell More Across a Vast Country
Canada has one of the lowest population densities in the world, with roughly 11 people per square mile. The United States, for instance, has a population density of approximately 94 people per square mile. With fewer shipments going into every area, shipping rates in Canada tend to be sky-high compared with those in the U.S.
eShipper enjoys using its company heritage and industry know-how to help customers reduce costs in situations like this. The company often releases tips via its blog and YouTube channel.
“Shipping is the last part of your P&L, so any savings become a margin,” Imtiaz said. “We take pride in sharing shipping hacks and knowledge about terminology and different ways of looking at the pie.”
For example, to lower prices in Canada despite its sparse population density, eShipper is working on solutions to downgrade costs from national shipping rates to locally-based ones. For businesses in Toronto, for example, shipping costs across the country to Vancouver for a 1-ton load could be anywhere from $13 to $18 per pound.
“What we’re about to do is suggest if you have a bunch of shipments going to the West Coast, we’ll line haul them from East into the West, and we’ll dump them into the nearest postal hub so that you are paying a domestic or local shipping rate,” Imtiaz said. “You could end up saving more than 40% on shipping using that method.”
Ultimately, eShipper aims to help Canadians remove barriers to online shopping that are holding back many local small businesses.
“Many Canadians end up selling more to the U.S. than they do to Canada, both because the population is larger and shipping is so expensive in Canada, people just don’t want to pay for it,” Imtiaz said.
Up Next: Cross-Border Services for Ecommerce
Moving forward, eShipper will continue searching for ways to bring more value to customers.
“One of the biggest benefits of working with a company like eShipper is that we don’t stop at giving you an online platform that will save you money,” Imtiaz said. “Instead, we invested in a warehouse, then in Amazon services, and then on the freight side because we want to provide the customer with everything they need in one place.”
Soon, eShipper will launch its Canada-to-U.S. cross-border service, intended for clients with large output volumes that don’t want to invest in a truck to go across the border.
“If you ship a shirt from Canada to the U.S. today using Canada Post, you’re probably going to pay $18 for a tracking service,” Imtiaz said. “Instead, we could give you a USPS label across the border and dump it into Buffalo. We’ve seen this market of Canada to the U.S. grow immensely over the last five years, but we’re going to do it in the best way possible.”