Canada Post makes run for Borderfree

Through a partnership with Canada Post, Internet shopping facilitator Borderfree Ltd. aims to live up to its name and encourage more American retailers to sell in


Borderfree is a service that allows online vendors south of the border to present orders, including shipping, taxes and duty, in Canadian currency. According to president and CEO Thomas Reeves, the Toronto-based company needed more marketing muscle to expand its reach to more U.S. retailers. The result is the partnership with Canada Post, which will also provide its logistics expertise.

“”About a year and a half ago, we started working together on a couple of accounts and found that we lacked what they had and they lacked what we had,”” said Reeves.

The partnership was first announced late last week, but has been in operation since December. Borderfree’s director of R&D Jurgis Vilis said Borderfree technology — an XML-driven engine which allows it to interface with American vendors — represents a cost-effective way for Canada Post to encourage more commercial shipping to Canada.

“”It’s basically a Web services API over the Internet to merchants,”” he said. “”Using technology like that allows various merchants’ systems — and the technologies they’re written on — to very easily communicate with us at a data layer.””

The partnership also gives Canada Post a foray into the lucrative catalogue market. Reeves estimates that there 17 billion catalogues shipped in the U.S. compared to less than 200 million in Canada.

“”A big part of our target market in the U.S. is cataloguers,”” said Patrick Bartlett, Canada Post’s general manager international. “”What we’re bringing to the party is the ability for these guys to be able to reach Canadians and be able to distribute their catalogues throughout Canada.””

There are some American companies that already ship their catalogues to Canada — clothiers like LL Bean and Victoria’s Secret — but a raft of them aren’t represented here yet. Bartlett wouldn’t name names, but Canada Post is in discussions with many of them.

As far as its Internet business goes, Borderfree counts Crate and Barrel, and among its U.S. partners. Coming soon are sports brand Puma and tool retailer

Eventually, Reeves aims to expand his company’s mandate and start shipping from Canadian retailers to American consumers. Canada Post could help facilitate that transition.

“”We’ll bring a lot of value in terms of helping Canadian companies understand the American marketplace, build marketing solutions with them to help them be effective, and building logistics solutions that helps them move their product across quite inexpensively,”” said Bartlett.

Canada Post subsidiary Progistix-Solutions may be involved in bringing the logistics piece of the partnership to life. Assured Logistics, which is part of Progistix, was tapped last year to handle the back-end operations for

Financial details of the partnership were not disclosed, but Canada Post owns a majority share.

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