Spotlight with Kais Khadraoui, CEO/Founder of Fulfillment Bridge
Over the last few years, the state of retail has changed completely.
One of the biggest drivers of change has been e-commerce, with more and more consumers turning to online channels to buy their products.
With this change in e-commerce, a myriad of business owners have popped up due to the low cost it takes to establish an e-commerce business, and now, anyone can easily open an online shop thanks to a platform like Shopify, WooCommerce and even FBA – Fulfillment by Amazon.
It was during this retail revolution, a young entrepreneur – Kais Khadraoui – originally from Tunisia ventured out to offer a comprehensive, efficient, fast and affordable supply chain management solution to facilitate e-commerce business globally.
Using his knowledge in Finance, and experience working in a Fortune 500 company in FinTech, Kais aimed to create a service that helped in picking and packing to the management of inventory and final delivery, a simple yet powerful order fulfillment solution that would help give e-commerce businesses an edge over their competitors, especially online sellers shipping cross border and globally in high volume.
From e-commerce to Hong Kong-based global logistics provider
While Fulfillment Bridge officially started in 2016, the roots go as far back as five years prior, when Kais began his entrepreneurial journey building up an e-commerce brand that specialized in selling mobile and travel accessories.
At a time where the landscape of e-commerce remained far different than what it is today, Kais focused on what mattered: sales.
Grinding through the online landscape to sell his products and build his business, he eventually turned his online shop from receiving a few B2C orders a day (that he and his partner used to fulfill manually) to around 20,000 – 30,000 orders and more (including B2B business) a month.
This didn’t happen overnight, however.
The success started with identifying the right product, customizing it with specific features that related to the brand and finding the right supplier through a long vetting process. Discovering the right product and pricing was not enough, however, as to get a lot of e-commerce traffic to his online store and ensure conversion, he focused on SEO and paid ads. Moreover, he worked with reviewers to build trust, which helped the company break through the digital noise and earn their sales..
With orders from all over the world, Asia to Europe and the US inclusive, Kais spent every passing year dealing with each corner of the e-commerce landscape, learning how to overcome the continual challenges that came his way.
As he received orders from across the globe, he needed a way to deliver his products efficiently, and in this journey, he realized that there were huge gaps in logistics offerings, especially when it came to cross-border selling. This was the first seed of thought to what would later become Fulfillment Bridge.
The journey to bridge the gaps in fulfillment
In hopes to improve the logistics behind his e-commerce business, Kais sat meeting after meeting, going through a plethora of potential partners.
It wasn’t until 2016, after operating with over 10 fulfillment providers and a time span of 3-4 years, did Kais eventually encounter one of the top 3 logistics companies in China that would soon change the course of his online journey.
Upon sitting down for a cup of casual coffee, the logistic company and Kais spoke about dealing with the international brands, and in that conversation, Kais reflected over all the issues that e-commerce brands had to go through when it came to dealing with fulfillment providers.
Kais knew more than any other, the types of issues a business would experience, from VAT problems, shipping products with built-in batteries, products in need of special packing, dealing with unhappy customer orders, and the logistic costs from sending items back and forth. One of the main reasons he wanted to pivot from e-commerce to logistics was because of the fact that 50-55% of the revenue was going to logistics costs. Thus, in this thought and wonder, Kais set his e-commerce business aside and set out to bridge the gap in fulfillment by establishing the start-up known today as Fulfillment Bridge.
The whole spirit behind Fulfillment Bridge is that you are not limited by geographic location, you cannot be local, you need to be global. We provide that infrastructure. We help you take care of the logistics workflow. Since Day 1, with us, you are a globally enabled business structured to reap all the benefits that online commerce offers with minimal downside risks thanks to our unique multi-warehouse capability. With Fulfillment Bridge, our clients get an edge even some of the most sophisticated sellers in the online space don’t know exist yet. Thus, there remains a window of opportunity for high volume sellers to capture even more margin when they exploit Fulfillment Bridge’s logistics and ecommerce fulfillment options.
Challenges and tribulations in fulfillment
E-commerce has been growing at a rate that most cannot describe.
Not only does e-commerce allow businesses to reach demographics they never thought about reaching before, but they can also do it at a speed and convenience that traditional brick-and-mortar stores are unable to leverage.
However, during his days of running his own store, Kais found one of the biggest pain points to e-commerce – logistics.
He found that while driving traffic to the website was doable, one of the more pressing challenges was to get your order to the customer as smoothly as possible.
As an e-commerce business owner that has the potential to be sending their items everywhere around the world, learning to deal with returns, making up for those delivery costs, and ensuring everything was delivered perfectly was one issue that Kais – along with many others like himself – would experience as a headache that consumed profits.
When it came to building out the business of Fulfillment Bridge, Kais went through a rollercoaster of struggles.
The primary challenge was to build a platform that not only enabled logistics solutions in a seamless way but to also make it as simple for e-commerce businesses of all sizes to connect and fulfill – no matter the geographic location of their customers.
Kais hoped to have the customer, from the moment they onboard until the moment their parcel reached the client, all handled by a cloud-based platform. It took just over three years to build what they now offer as a service to any e-commerce seller today.
A solution for today’s e-commerce challenges and beyond
Since its advent, Fulfillment Bridge continues on a path of continued growth, having offices in Tunisia, France, LA, and Hong Kong. Alongside a warehousing network of 21 warehouses in 16 countries, and counting, they cover the following countries:
- The United States,
- The United Kingdom,
- The Czech Republic,
- Saudi Arabia,
- Hong Kong S.A.R,
For Kais, one of the most satisfying factors in starting the business has been when up and coming e-commerce shops ask the very question, where have you been all this time?
For their pricing model, there are no monthly minimum fees, with no required minimum orders. Fulfillment Bridge clients pay as they go and start getting charged once the goods arrive at any warehouse in the Fulfillment Bridge multi-warehouse global network.
Not only does the company offer one month of warehousing free when it comes to how many volumes customers reach in terms of shipping, but the more discount received, the more discount the client would receive.
Additionally, the insurance coverage is something customers usually get, which acts as a major benefit, with Fulfillment Bridge, as the company offers dedicated insurance, up to $15,000 USD. The claim process is seamlessly integrated within Fulfillment Bridge with fast claim processing that requires only 14 days.
Last and not least, Fulfillment Bridge offers freight forwarding and customs clearance services, so in case an online seller decides to store his products in a new country, they help with bulk shipment from China to said country.
The future of e-commerce, logistics, and fulfillment
Kais continues to consider Fulfillment Bridge a tech-heavy company, with 14 developers just to keep up with the backend development. Moreover, they are in the middle of adopting AI to identify the best shipping methods so online sellers can be confident they are getting the best rates and shipping for their customers.
For the logistic players that are not trying to keep up, they will fall and drag down. The bigger you are, the harder it is to implement changes. Your size can become your own enemy when it comes to enabling a brand new process. In the end, you may end up fighting yourself.
Kais believes, in a few years, there will be less monopoly, with emerging players providing what Amazon does today and ultimately bringing some balance.
Some competition at the supplier level is always good for the client, and with so many corners of the world already set up with the infrastructure to be impacted, there is a ripe opportunity to win market share and make logistics a better deal for everyone.
As for the future of e-commerce and logistics as a whole, Kais looks on with hope.
With all his years in the e-commerce market, and seeing how its transformed over this short period of time, he believes e-commerce will be less domestic and tend toward more cross border for online sellers.
Kais expects in 5-10 years, the number of online shoppers will only grow even more due to greater urbanization and an increase in disposable income of the middle class in developing nations.
Despite the trade wars, the flow of e-commerce did not decline. So with that observation, he believes e-commerce is the way of the future, as it opens up the entire world to you.
If you watch from the sideline, expecting to wait for the right moment, that wait will never end, you will miss an opportunity.
When asked about what lessons and tips he could give to future entrepreneurs looking to make a business in e-commerce or technology, Kais explains the following three rules to live by/guide you throughout the day:
- Always be reading – Get connected and be part of those dedicated journals where you get the latest in tech, latest in e-commerce and the economy. You cannot be isolated in a global digital world and remain competitive. Never stop learning and continue to execute.
- Surround yourself with the right people, and know-how to delegate – The more you grow, the less you can do everything yourself so you need to empower the people around you to make decisions and have an impact.
- Spend time with your family – They are there to support you the most.