In 2017, the UK transported £620 billion of goods and services globally. We’re the world’s sixth largest exporter. And while that does take into account intangible assets too, it still means that Britain’s freighters are kept extremely busy. It also means that how you get your goods to and from international buyers and sellers can be vitally important to the health of your company.
So, to keep your associates happy, it’s worth taking the pulse of your international freight processes from time to time. Here’s five tips to have keep your distribution right on track.
Five Steps to Improve Your Company’s International Freight Process
1. Simplify internal processes
If you’re anything like the majority of businesses, you’ll have onboarded endless apps, programmes and systems as they’ve come along, with the intention of improving your inhouse processes. From opening documentation to order fulfilment, you’re likely to access numerous different systems. In theory, this means that you have the best tool for every job. In reality, it means that you’re over complicating a fairly straightforward process, often duplicating tasks, or spending resources dealing with the unnecessary. Taking an audit of your internal shipping processes can help remove unnecessary actions from the equation.
2. Adopt Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
The adoption of EDI is probably the easiest way that you can streamline your order processing system. It replaces paperwork with electronic data. This can save time and money, as well as removing a sizable margin of error from practically any business. In essence, computers automate systems that would ordinarily be handled by multiple humans in multiple processes. The benefits are obvious.
3. Choose the right freighter for your needs
Fairly obviously, the company that handles the physical transportation of your goods can have an enormous impact on your business. Not just whether the goods get there in time and in good condition. But how the freighter’s behaviour reflects back on your company. And how amenable they are to both you and your customers – do they offer any additional services: cross-trade; warehousing; double-man delivery; forklift service? Like Plexus Freight, do they have depots in multiple locations, so local knowledge can be brought to bear to expedite collection and delivery? You need to consider:
- Service types – express, economy, cross-trade
- Security – what measures are in place?
- Speed – of collection and delivery
- Ease of working – how simple is it to book a collection?
- Special services
4. Prepare for customs
Regardless of where you’re shipping to or from, if it’s outside your nation’s borders you will encounter customs. Poor preparation for customs clearance – failure to complete paperwork, or a lack of research – can lead to significant delays. It might even mean that your goods are confiscated. If you’re not sure what you’re doing, it’s worth handing this problem over to a freight forwarder with value-added services. That way, you’re guaranteed that everything that needs doing is done. And unnecessary delays are avoided.
One of the most frustrating aspects of ordering goods from overseas is not knowing what’s happening with your order. And that applies whether it’s a single item or a full pallet load. Has it been received? Are the goods in stock? Has it been dispatched, and if not when is it likely to be? Who’s it being shipped by? And when can it be expected? Generate a reputation for clear, open business. You’ll already be ahead of most of your competitors.
If international trade is at the heart of your business, it only makes sense that your shipping processes should be too. Regular systems audits and taking steps to improve the way you work are important if you want your business to grow.