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Cross Border Shipping: A Masterclass in Freight Solutions

Phuc Le
September 14, 2023

In 2022, the value of goods traded between the United States, Canada, and Mexico was over $130 billion, which was 20% more than in 2021. This shows how important it is to trade across borders to connect what's made with what's used.

However, shipping things across borders isn't always easy. There can be problems with knowing where things are, finding enough space to transport them, and dealing with changes in demand during different times of the year. That's why many companies, big and small, work with experts who specialize in helping things move smoothly across borders. Whether a company ships a lot or just a little, it's a good idea to work with a company that can make the process easier. This article will give you tips on how to make cross-border shipping in North America work better for you, like making your operations smoother and keeping track of your shipments in real-time.

WHAT IS CROSS BORDER?

WHAT IS CROSS BORDER?

Cross border logistics is a critical driver of our economy, connecting consumers, manufacturers, and factories. While it comes with challenges, data and metrics demonstrate the importance of international trade and the benefits of partnering with experts in the field to overcome logistical obstacles. This article aims to provide guidance on optimizing cross-border shipping based on these insights and real-time tracking of supply chains.

1. Consumer Access: Cross-border logistics ensures that consumers can enjoy a wide variety of products. For example, in the United States, about 97% of all clothing and shoes are imported. This means that most of the clothes and shoes we buy come from other countries, demonstrating how international trade connects us to the products we love.

2. Manufacturing Needs: Manufacturers rely on cross-border logistics to obtain the materials necessary for production. In the automotive industry, for instance, over 37% of auto parts used in the United States are imported from Mexico and Canada. This data shows how international supply chains are crucial for manufacturing.

3. Timely Deliveries: Factories depend on timely deliveries of essential materials to maintain smooth operations. The electronics industry is a prime example, with more than 30% of electronics components being imported from other countries. This illustrates the importance of cross-border logistics in ensuring the steady flow of materials.

Now, let's dive into the challenges of cross border logistics and how they impact the industry.

1. Visibility: According to industry research, approximately 40% of logistics professionals consider a lack of visibility into their supply chains as a significant challenge. This lack of visibility can lead to delays and inefficiencies in cross-border shipments.

2. Capacity Sourcing: Data from the American Trucking Associations shows that there's often a shortage of available trucks for cross-border shipments, especially during peak seasons. This scarcity of capacity can result in delays and increased costs.

3. Market Seasonality: The demand for goods can vary seasonally. For example, during the holiday season, there's typically a surge in cross-border shipments. This seasonality can strain logistics operations and lead to bottlenecks.

To address these challenges, many businesses, both large and small, seek the expertise of transportation service providers specializing in cross-border logistics. Research by Armstrong & Associates indicates that companies that partner with such specialists can reduce transportation costs by an average of 12%. These specialists offer value-added services that help streamline cross-border supply chains.

SELECTING THE IDEAL CROSS BORDER FREIGHT SERVICE PROVIDER

SELECTING THE IDEAL CROSS BORDER FREIGHT SERVICE PROVIDER

Selecting the ideal cross border freight provider is a critical decision for shippers, as it directly impacts the efficiency and success of their cross border supply chains. The complexity of international shipping demands careful consideration of various factors. Here, we delve into the crucial aspects to ponder and explore how a dependable provider:

1. Unique Operational Requirements: Every shipper has distinct operational needs for their cross border shipments. Questions abound, such as whether transloading is required, if door-to-door shipping is preferable, or whether custom brokerage services are in place. It's essential to find a provider that can accommodate these specific requirements. According to industry data, 60% of cross border shippers require transloading services to optimize their supply chains. Moreover, nearly 80% of cross border shipments have a preference for door-to-door delivery. To ensure seamless operations, it's paramount to partner with a provider capable of accommodating such unique requirements.

2. Comprehensive Services: When seeking a cross-border freight provider, shipping managers look for a wide range of services to meet customer orders effectively. These services may include transloading, intermodal options, warehouse and distribution, supply chain optimization, full truckload (FTL) and less than truckload (LTL) solutions, varied equipment choices, expedited shipping, on-demand capacity, routing guides, and round-the-clock customer support. A comprehensive survey reveals that 72% of shipping managers prioritize real-time visibility in their cross border supply chains. This is indicative of the growing need for transparency and tracking capabilities. Additionally, over 85% of shippers require intermodal transportation options to optimize their logistics operations.

3. Vetted Carrier Networks: Experienced cross border freight providers have established extensive carrier networks to facilitate international trade into Mexico and Canada. This involves a rigorous vetting process to ensure carriers have qualified drivers and suitable equipment. Compliance with safety standards and regulations is paramount, especially for Mexican carriers entering the United States. Metrics show that over 85% of shippers consider carrier qualification, such as driver credentials and equipment suitability, as a top priority.

4. On-Demand Capacity and Insurance Protection: RFlexibility in capacity is crucial for cross border operations. A survey among shipping managers reveals that 76% value on-demand capacity for their cross border freight, emphasizing the need for providers capable of accommodating fluctuating shipping volumes. Additionally, data shows that cargo insurance costs typically range from 2% to 3% of the cargo value, underlining the importance of insurance protection. 

5. Technology-Driven Solutions:As technology reshapes logistics, shipping managers increasingly seek tech-driven solutions. According to industry reports, 80% of cross border shippers emphasize the importance of real-time visibility in their operations. Innovative tracking software, ensures that shippers receive live updates on all cross border loads. Furthermore, metrics demonstrate that automation reduces manual data entry, allowing companies to allocate resources more efficiently.

6. Enterprise Integration: Traditionally, data collection in cross border logistics has been a labor-intensive process. Metrics reveal that manual data entry consumes up to 20% of operational resources, highlighting the need for automation. A majority of shippers (71%) prioritize automation and streamlined data collection, recognizing the potential for cost savings and operational improvements.

7. Real-Time Visibility: One of the most significant challenges for North American shippers in cross border freight is real-time visibility. Tracking shipments across borders can be challenging, with manual check calls being the norm. 

ESSENTIAL STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESSFUL CROSS BORDER ECOMMERCE

ESSENTIAL STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESSFUL CROSS BORDER ECOMMERCE

Before embarking on the journey of shipping products internationally to a global customer base, it's vital to ensure your business is fully prepared. Shipping across borders can be complex, but by implementing these best practices, you can navigate the challenges effectively:

1. Identify Your Target Market:

Begin by pinpointing the geographical locations of your potential customers. Analyze where your current customer base is predominantly located. Research indicates that, on average, only 30% of global online shoppers buy from cross border eCommerce sites. To make informed decisions, it's crucial to determine where your customers are predominantly located. For instance, if your business is primarily catering to customers in a specific region, such as Texas and New Mexico in the U.S., your focus may not be on cross border efforts. However, if you have a significant customer base in another country, like Spain, it's crucial to enable cross border transactions for those customers. 

2. Select Target Countries:

Determine whether you want to expand your shipping globally or focus on select countries. Data suggests that 45% of global cross border eCommerce sales go to just six countries: the United States, China, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, and Germany. The decision should align with your customer distribution. If you choose to ship globally, be aware of the costs associated with international shipping, as each country has distinct shipment costs and restrictions. Careful consideration of these factors is essential before allowing international orders on your site.

3. Evaluate Export and Delivery Taxes:

The assessment of export and delivery taxes is crucial. Metrics reveal that customs duties can add 20% or more to the cost of imported goods in some countries. For instance, eCommerce sellers in the United States typically won't encounter U.S. export regulations or taxes for B2C international sales. However, you should be aware of the de minimis value limits per shipment or sale in the receiving country, as orders above this limit may incur delivery duties. Understanding the export and import taxes associated with cross border shipping is essential, and you should determine whether your business and customers are willing to bear these additional charges.

4. Adhere to Local Regulations:

Compliance with local laws and regulations in the countries where you intend to sell is imperative. Different countries have varying product regulations and restrictions. Commonly restricted or regulated product categories include cosmetics, food and alcohol, medical and safety products, electronics, tobacco, and clothing. It's vital to research and understand the product restrictions in your destination country before accepting orders and shipping them.

5. Localize Your Online Store:

Data-driven localization is essential for enhancing customer engagement and sales. Metrics show that localized content and language adaptation can increase conversion rates by up to 70%. Furthermore, studies indicate that 55% of consumers prefer to shop in their native language. To cater to diverse markets, it's imperative to provide region-specific versions of your site with culturally relevant content, images, and prices. Data also reveals that offering local payment methods can boost sales by up to 12%, highlighting the importance of accommodating preferred payment options.

Expanding into international markets presents significant growth opportunities for your business, but it also comes with unique challenges. To succeed in cross border eCommerce, take the time to understand the specific needs and regulations of each country you plan to serve. By adhering to best practices, such as localizing your online store, staying compliant with international laws, and carefully considering extra international delivery costs, your business will be well-prepared to thrive in the global marketplace.

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