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The Covid-19 pandemic created significant hurdles to overseas shipping. But now that we are slowly moving past the pandemic, companies in the U.S. are preparing for the future. Being positioned to ship to our closest neighbors in Canada and Mexico so as not to be completely sidelined by future overseas complications is the first step that many companies are now taking in their rebuilding and restructuring efforts.
Essentially, the shipping industry is now even more interested in future-proofing itself.
In this article, we are outlining some of our best tips for improving your cross-border shipping processes to help you ensure that you are well-positioned for any future issues that may affect your international transport of goods.
It may seem obvious, but the closer you are positioned to the border, the easier it is to move goods across that border. Shipments can be made more frequently and all processes throughout the supply chain can be sped up by decreasing the distance that drivers have to travel to reach their destination. This also means that there are a lot fewer processes such as route planning and adjustments for delays that need to reworked often.
Furthermore, this may likely also result in your company being chosen more often than others for contracts and general purchases of goods in your industry from those customers or clients across the border. Since you are near the border, this translates to your customers that your business may be capable of getting their goods to them quicker and with possibly less red tape to deal with than with your competitors who are 1,000 miles away from the border.
A Transportation Management System (TMS) can provide real-time information about all aspects of transportation and can assist with many logistics considerations including the optimization of routes and decreasing the costs of transport, to name a few.
In regard to how a TMS helps with cross-border shipments, there are many benefits but there is also one area where the TMS really shines: Gathering, organizing, and transmitting pre-shipment data known as the e-Manifest. This is a critical part of the international shipping process required by many countries prior to the receiving of international freight. An e-Manifest is simply a document that contains data about the shipment you are sending across the border. Customs officials use this information to screen freight before it makes its way to the border. Everything from origin information to weight, product description, quantity, and even information about the vessel it is being shipped on, among many other bits of info.
Luckily, these are all pieces of data that your TMS can quickly send out and submit as a formatted document to customs officials.
While Transportation Management Systems are important for cross-border shipping, they can be tricky to fully understand. Therefore, it is often a good idea to partner with a 3PL company such as Redwood Logistics that already leverages a well-rounded TMS platform as this will reduce the learning curve and training hurdles your company would otherwise need to invest in to get a system implemented and staff trained on it in a timely manner.
Bonded carriers are not required to pay duties. Additionally, these carriers can cross the border faster than non-bonded carriers as they are not required to undergo United States customs clearance. These two factors speed up the entire process of transportation significantly while also keeping costs significantly lower.
Besides bonded carriers, another type of carrier to consider is those that are C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) certified. These carriers are generally considered “low risk” as far as security is concerned. As a result, they are not subject to as many inspections and, just like utilizing bonded carriers, partnering with a C-TAPT certified carrier helps to expedite the shipping process a bit.
Lastly, and this is less technical advice, but it is critical that you know why your international customers are interested in your brand. A few of the reasons shoppers are drawn toward international brands are:
Many international shoppers are looking to get items that they can already get in their country, but for a lower price. This is sometimes tricky to navigate, as you’ll need to factor in duty fees, taxes, and other costs. At the end of the day, you’ll want to be sure that your prices aren’t so low that they are going to run you out of business, but aren’t so high that you’ll dissuade customers from shopping with you.
Goods that are unique to a certain country or region can draw customers toward a brand. Understanding this and promoting these items to your international audience can boost cross-border sales tremendously.
Sometimes the quality of the product is the biggest draw for consumers. If your product is of superior quality, this information needs to be promoted to your international audience. Many customers are willing to pay extra to obtain an item that is of better quality than what they can get at home.