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Airway Bill (AWB) in the eCommerce World

Phuc Le
May 5, 2023

If you're an eCommerce seller who wants to ship your products internationally, you might have heard of the term "airway bill" or AWB. But what exactly is it and why is it important for your business? In this article, we'll answer some of the most common questions about AWB and show you how it can benefit your eCommerce operations.

So what is AWB?

An airway bill (AWB) is a document that accompanies your goods when they are transported by air. It serves as a contract between you (the shipper) and the carrier (the airline) that specifies the terms and conditions of the shipment. It also acts as a receipt that proves that the carrier has received your goods and is responsible for delivering them to the destination.

How AWB started its journey

The origin of AWB can be traced back to the early days of aviation, when air transport was mainly used for mail and passengers. The first AWB was issued in 1927 by Imperial Airways, a British airline that operated flights to Africa, Asia, and Australia.

As air transport became more popular and efficient, it also opened up new possibilities for eCommerce. Online retailers could now reach customers all over the world with faster and cheaper delivery options. However, this also meant that they had to deal with different customs regulations, taxes, and duties in each country.

That's where AWB came in handy. It provided a standardized way of identifying and tracking the goods, as well as specifying the terms and conditions of the shipment. It also helped to simplify the customs clearance process by providing information on the origin, destination, value, and description of the goods.

Today, AWB is still an essential document for international air cargo. However, it has also evolved with the times. Many airlines now use electronic AWB (e-AWB), which replaces the paper version with a digital one. This reduces errors, costs, and environmental impact.

How AWB started its journey

How many types of AWB are there?

There are two main types of AWB: master airway bill (MAWB) and house airway bill (HAWB). A MAWB is issued by the carrier to the freight forwarder or consolidator who arranges the shipment of multiple consignments from different shippers. A HAWB is issued by the freight forwarder or consolidator to each individual shipper who has a consignment in the consolidated shipment. A HAWB contains more details about the specific goods and their destination than a MAWB.

What are the main functions of the AWB?

The AWB has several functions for both the shipper and the carrier. Some of them are:

  • It provides information about the shipment, such as the description, quantity, weight, dimensions, value, origin, destination, routing, and delivery date of the goods.
  • It indicates the charges and fees associated with the shipment, such as the freight rate, fuel surcharge, insurance, customs duties, taxes, and other expenses.
  • It specifies the liability and responsibility of the carrier and the shipper in case of loss, damage, delay, or misdelivery of the goods.
  • It serves as a proof of delivery when the carrier delivers the goods to the consignee (the receiver) and obtains their signature on the AWB.
  • It facilitates the customs clearance process by providing the necessary documents and information to the customs authorities.

The AWB is a vital document for eCommerce sellers who want to ship their products internationally. It helps you monitor your shipment, protect your rights, and comply with customs regulations. So next time you book a shipment with a carrier, make sure you get an AWB and keep it safe until your package reaches its destination.

What are the main functions of the AWB?

AWB can store more information than you think!

The AWB contains various fields that record different information about the shipment. Some of the most important fields are:

  • AWB number: a unique number that identifies the shipment and allows tracking its status and location.
  • Shipper's name and address: the name and address of the person or company who sends the goods.
  • Consignee's name and address: the name and address of the person or company who receives the goods.
  • Carrier's name and code: the name and code of the airline that transports the goods.
  • Airport of departure and destination: the codes of the airports where the goods are loaded and unloaded.
  • Flight number and date: the number and date of the flight that carries the goods.
  • Nature and quantity of goods: a brief description and quantity of the goods in terms of pieces, weight, volume, etc.
  • Handling information: any special instructions or requirements for handling or delivering the goods.
  • Charges: a breakdown of all charges and fees related to the shipment.

All this information can help you streamline your shipping process, avoid delays and errors, and ensure customer satisfaction. Plus, it can also save you money by reducing paper waste and printing costs.

Ok, I’m running an eCommerce business, how can it benefit me?

If you run an eCommerce business that sells products internationally, you know how important it is to have a reliable and efficient delivery service. But did you know that using an airway bill (AWB) can make your crossborder logistics even easier and more convenient? Here are the top 5 benefits of AWB for eCommerce in general.

  1. Faster delivery time. AWB is a document that serves as a contract between the shipper and the carrier, as well as a receipt of goods and a tracking number. It allows the carrier to transport the goods by air without any additional paperwork or customs clearance. This means that your products can reach your customers faster and with less hassle.
  2. Lower shipping costs. AWB helps you save money on shipping costs, as it eliminates the need for multiple documents and fees for different countries. You only pay for the weight and volume of your goods, not for the number of documents or the destination country. Plus, you can take advantage of lower rates offered by air freight carriers, especially for bulk orders.
  3. Better security and tracking. AWB provides better security and tracking for your goods, as it contains all the information about the shipment, such as the sender, receiver, contents, value, and destination. You can track your shipment online using the AWB number and get real-time updates on its status and location. You can also use AWB to file claims or complaints in case of damage, loss, or delay of your goods.
  4. Higher customer satisfaction. AWB also improves your customer satisfaction, as it ensures that your products arrive on time and in good condition. Your customers will appreciate the fast and smooth delivery service, as well as the ability to track their orders online. You can also use AWB to provide proof of delivery and confirmation of receipt, which can help you avoid disputes or chargebacks.
  5. Easier compliance and regulation. AWB makes it easier for you to comply with the rules and regulations of different countries and regions when it comes to crossborder eCommerce. AWB is a standardized document that is recognized and accepted by most authorities and agencies around the world. It contains all the necessary information and declarations for customs clearance and taxation purposes, which can help you avoid fines or penalties.

As you can see, AWB is a great tool for eCommerce businesses that want to expand their market and reach more customers globally. It offers many benefits for both shippers and receivers, such as faster delivery time, lower shipping costs, better security and tracking, higher customer satisfaction, and easier compliance and regulation. If you want to take advantage of AWB for your eCommerce business, contact Amilo today and we will help you get started!

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