Goods and trade flows span the entire globe – with consequences for all logistical processes. Regardless of whether you import or export goods: Shipping across national borders presents companies with challenges. Here are four do’s for your cross-border logistics.
1. Optain detailed know-how
For smooth cross-border logistics you need extensive know-how and a solid strategy. However, answering complex customs-related questions and selecting different warehousing and delivery options can be quite unsettling for less experienced companies. After all, wrong decisions can have a significant impact on profit margins. One example: Companies can lose a few thousand euros if they deliver to a warehouse on the US east coast – while the end customers primarily reside in the west.
The same applies to warehousing within Europe. The integration of an external logistics service provider with the appropriate know-how can be advantageous. “We are familiar with the necessary processes, have many years of experience and can provide our customers with full support in all aspects of cross-border logistics,” says Jan Bierewirtz CCO and Division Manager Commercial at Hermes International, a division of Hermes Germany.
2. Comply with delivery times – and plan for intermediate storage
Amazon has set new standards for delivery times in both the USA and Europe: The goods should arrive at the customer within two to four days. Also Chinese platforms such as Tmall or JD.com require their merchants to deliver the goods within a maximum timespan of two weeks after purchase. “In our experience, it can be advisable to keep highly demanded products in buffer warehouses in the destination country in order to enable a faster delivery,” Bierewirtz reports from practical experience. To this end, companies can cooperate with full-service providers such as Hermes International, as they already have the necessary infrastructure throughout Europe.
3. Be familiar with customs formalities and secure cost advantages
Businesses should take a close look at customs formalities and import and export regulations for cross-border trade. In this way, you can always disclose customs-related costs transparently and avoid unpleasant surprises. Often there are also big cost advantages: “There are various methods, such as the conversion procedure, by which companies can keep the costs low. It is not advisable to neglect these positive effects just because you are unaware of them, as this can negatively impact your profit margins in the long term,” says Bierewirtz. Companies are therefore well advised to gain a detailed knowledge in the area of customs and taxes.
In addition, import laws vary from country to country. In Switzerland, for example, a delivery must be accompanied by an administrative document without which the freight may not cross the border. “If this knowledge and the necessary documents are lacking, delivery delays occur and, in the worst case, the customer will cancel the order,” Bierewirtz explains.
4. Delivery – score with country-specific expertise
Care must be taken when delivering goods abroad. Only those who know the regional preferences can successfully deliver their goods and retain customers in the long term. While in Germany delivery to the doorstep is preferred and, alternatively, depositing the goods with the neighbour is quite common, in Spain the latter is a no-go. Spaniards prefer the personal pick-up in a pre-defined time window on a selected day. In China and Scandinavia as well as in parts of Southeastern Europe, however, customers prefer their deliveries to a parcel shop. Companies should always keep an eye on their customers’ local preferences and adapt delivery options accordingly. “Hermes is currently responding to the rising demand for Click&Collect deliveries with a growing network of ParcelShops. We already provide more than 38,000 ParcelShops throughout Europe,” says Jan Bierewirtz.
Whether you want to sell goods abroad or import goods into your home country: Details are often the decisive factors for the success or failure of your cross-border logistics – important details that can quickly affect the overall company performance. With a profound know-how and a smart strategy, companies can secure competitive advantages and position themselves successfully on the market in the long term.