With a population of over 5,5 million, strong logistics infrastructure and a myriad of other top business ratings, Finland´s potential as ecommerce logistics hub has been long discussed but never fully exploited.
But the change is underway as cross-border ecommerce logistics provider PostPlus successfully delivers their first cross-border B2C ecommerce shipment to Helsinki-Vantaa airport by using a completely new partner network involving local cargo handling and last mile providers as well as Estonian IT technology firms to begin a new era of ecommerce logistics to Finland.
Bringing B2C ecommerce shipments directly from 3rd countries by air to Finland´s capital airport has been long considered as a difficult task for several reasons.
Firstly, there was no technology to ensure the ecommerce is processed and registered on a parcel level in the handling companies´ cargo management systems.
Hence the interest on the part of cargo handlers to deal with ecommerce shipments was low.
Storing bulky and space consuming shipments was also an issue for cargo handlers and nearby warehouse capacity providers as clearing or preparing the shipments for transit was time consuming.
Thirdly, there was no customs clearance solution available to clear large ecommerce volumes in automated and secure way.
“Our Asian partners have been long expressing interest in direct ecommerce injection to Finland, with Helsinki Vantaa airport having excellent global connections provided by world class airlines”, says Gunnar Aru, CEO of PostPlus.
“So we thought we need to step in and build the missing bits and pieces on the ground to untap the potential of Finland´s ecommerce market.”
And so, it happened. At the beginning of May, the first shipment of 222 ecommerce parcels landed at Helsinki-Vantaa airport.
Upon its arrival the goods were brought to the cargo handling facility of ASR Cargo Centre running on Qstep, a cargo handling software born and developed in Tallinn, that enabled the cargo handler to register and release the shipment on the parcel level.
Prior to that, a local broker companyhas successfully customs cleared the shipment in a matter of minutes thanks to another IT software firm Feeport that specializes in automated customs clearance of low-value ecommerce goods imported from the outside the EU.
This partnership brought about a remarkable synergy: within several hours after the shipment´s landing at the airport, the parcels were ready to be picked from the cargo handling facility for last mile delivery provided by Matkahuolto, one of the largest and oldest local transportation companies in Finland, and the second largest parcel service provider in the country.
As PostPlus does not have a direct physical presence in Finland, the key role for handling of the ecommerce and its dispatch to the last mile was assigned to ASR Cargo Center, one of the three cargo handlers at Helsinki-Vantaa airport operating own cargo facility since 2014.
“Already earlier we wanted to diversify our business model by taking full advantage of our location. The pandemic taught us some lessons about the need to look into new opportunities,” says Samuli Naskali, managing director of ASR Cargo Center.
“So, when PostPlus contacted us about direct injection of ecommerce at Helsinki Vantaa airport we realized this is one of such opportunities to ensure our sustainable growth.
“When we received full backing from our software provider Qstep to be able to handle ecommerce data in automated manner in our cargo handling system, we felt confident taking on this challenge.”
“For the ecommerce goods to be directly released into last mile from the cargo handling facility the shipment needs to be handled in the systems on the parcel level to be in compliance with customs regulations,” says CEO of Qstep, Haiti Arendi.
“At Qstep we are trying to enable our cargo handling software platform with ecommerce handling functionality because this is something that can allow cargo handlers to start unlocking the ecommerce potential and doing so with little or no human interaction as we rely on maximum utilization of available data“.
“When goods are customs cleared, they can be directly released from cargo handling facility into last mile without having the need to be placed on a transit procedure to some specialized warehouse nearby.
“This dramatically reduces processing time and speeds up the delivery to the end client”, he adds.
Another important piece to this project was provided by Feeport and its SaaS based platform for imported ecommerce customs clearance – x7trade – already connected to seven EU Member States´ national import customs systems.
“In fact, Finland was one of the first countries to which we connected our software platform a few years back, but we did not have the client with volumes,” says Egor Paanukoski, co-founder of Feeport.
“Now we are excited because there is a completely new set of international players involved to start the direct injection of ecommerce shipments to Helsinki-Vantaa airport.”
Helsinki-Vantaa Airport as ecommerce hub
“We hope that our new delivery proposition demonstrated to our partners in Asia, USA and wider Europe that Helsinki-Vantaa airport and the local partner network that we built on the ground can be a viable new logistics route for cross-border ecommerce to be injected directly into Finnish market”, adds Gunnar Aru from PostPlus.
“We want to stress that we are open to any international business interested in bringing ecommerce to Finland.
“We believe the competition will bring additional value to the end clients as well as improve the quality of the delivery service among current ecommerce logistics providers”.