Freight Contract Management

5 Essential Tips for Effective International Freight Shipping

Grant Sernick
December 4, 2023
min read
5 Essential Tips for Effective International Freight Shipping5 Essential Tips for Effective International Freight Shipping

Today’s international freight shippers find themselves navigating a complex and ever-evolving labyrinth of global economic regulations, geopolitical conflicts, and intricate procedures. This dynamic landscape can be rife with challenges, from the constant changes in trade compliance requirements to the unpredictability of weather-related disruptions and the ripple effects of global conflicts. To thrive in this environment, shippers need to leverage every available advantage to ensure the efficiency of their international transportation operations.

International freight, the lifeblood of the global economy, plays a pivotal role in the movement of goods across borders. At the heart of this intricate process, the need for seamless integration of transportation and trade compliance is more critical than ever. With ocean containers accounting for 95% of world trade and a single shipment changing hands over 20 times, the going gets tough, and errors, miss-timed ETAs, and disruptions occur frequently.

Real-time visibility at the product level and optimized operations are the need of the hour for international freight shippers who must maintain a laser focus on products and costs. This article delves into the core challenges international freight shippers face and provides invaluable insights on five essential tips to navigate these hurdles effectively. Whether you're a seasoned Beneficial Cargo Owner or a newcomer to the world of international shipping, these tips will equip you with the knowledge to streamline your processes and elevate your shipping journey.

In a Globalized Economy, Effective International Operations Are Essential

Optimizing international freight shipping operations is necessary as the economy becomes increasingly globalized. The world's interconnectedness has led to a shift where businesses rely heavily on global supply chains to move goods across borders efficiently. However, the path to seamless international transportation is fraught with challenges.

  • Regulations: One of the foremost challenges international shippers face is the ever-changing landscape of regulations. From stringent environmental regulations to variable container weight limits, shippers must constantly adapt to remain compliant. Navigating this regulatory maze can be both time-consuming and financially demanding.
  • Conflicts & Exceptions: Geopolitical conflicts and their ripple-effect exceptions also pose significant hurdles in international shipping. For example, the ongoing crisis between Israel and Hamas, as well as issues related to Ukraine and the Strait of Taiwan, can disrupt supply chain routes and schedules, leading to delays and uncertainty. Weather-related exceptions, such as those in drought-stricken Panama, can have a considerable impact, further complicating the already intricate web of global logistics.
  • Procedures: Complex trade compliance regulations can leave international freight shippers in highly difficult and costly situations. Ensuring compliance with customs, import/export laws, and other trade compliance requirements can be daunting, making it essential for businesses to have a comprehensive understanding of these procedures to avoid potential pitfalls.

In this complex landscape, having the right tools and strategies is paramount to optimize their operations and achieve efficiency and reliability in their global logistics endeavors.

Effective International Transportation Requires Product-Level Visibility

At the heart of effective international freight transportation lies a fundamental element: product-level visibility. Shippers must have a comprehensive view of products within their supply chain at every stage to ensure the smooth and reliable movement of goods across borders. This visibility is essential for tracking shipments, optimizing routes, and addressing potential issues as they happen. Despite its undeniable importance, a staggering 50% of shippers lack visibility over their ocean freight.

This lack of visibility can lead to many problems, from delays and disruptions to increased costs and customer dissatisfaction. In a world where time-sensitive deliveries and efficient inventory management are paramount, not having a clear view of your supply chain can be a costly oversight.

5 Essential Tips for Avoiding Common Pitfalls in International Transportation

Navigating the complex realm of international transportation is no small feat. International freight shippers facing myriad variables often find themselves confronting a multitude of challenges. To ensure the efficiency and reliability of their shipping operations, they need to adopt a strategic approach that incorporates five essential tips:

Tip #1: Build Holistic Processes

International freight shipping operations are not isolated processes but part of a complex, interconnected system. Siloed procedures between trade compliance and other transportation measures can create oversight and introduce hazardous complexity. Shippers who manage trade compliance and transportation as separate entities risk missing the critical link between these components. The solution lies in integrating these processes into a single, streamlined platform. This integrated approach enhances efficiency, minimizes errors, and ensures that global trade operations run smoothly.

By adopting this unified approach, shippers simplify the intricacies of international logistics, reduce the risks of compliance violations, and foster better decision-making. This real-time integration of data and processes offers shippers unparalleled product-level visibility into their supply chain, enabling them to react promptly to changing circumstances and make informed decisions based on the most up-to-date information.

Tip #2: Invest in Streamlined Visibility

To gain a holistic view of the supply chain, it's essential to capture and validate transportation and trade compliance data from various sources and formats and transform it into a unified dataset that serves all parties. Weaving this data together provides different perspectives that internal functional stakeholders require to make informed decisions. This holistic view is vital for international freight shippers to understand the entirety of their operations and address issues as they occur.

The importance of streamlined visibility tools cannot be overstated. They allow shippers to capture, validate, and translate supply chain data into actionable insights, ensuring a more informed and efficient decision-making process. Platforms like 3rdwave offer comprehensive solutions that empower shippers to know where their containers and products are — and the costs associated with them — throughout the supply chain journey. By having access to real-time data, shippers can track the status of their cargo, anticipate potential issues, and proactively respond to changes in the supply chain, whether it's a delay in transit or a shift in demand.

Tip #3: Prioritize Actionable Insights

Actionable insights are the fuel that powers effective decision-making in international transportation. Shippers must not only collect data but also understand how to use it effectively. With access to validated data in a unified language, shippers can build a fully actionable understanding of both customs and physical transportation status.

An automated customs management system acts as a beacon of reliability, offering a structured and automated solution that centralizes vital data and documentation. This centralization paves the way for a seamless trade experience. Integrating customs and visibility data at the product level gives shippers a comprehensive view of their supply chain. By leveraging this knowledge, they can react quickly to unexpected disruptions across their operations, ensuring a smoother and more responsive supply chain.

Tip #4: Turn to Integrated Invoicing for International Shipments

Efficient financial processes are a crucial aspect of international transportation. Shippers need to ensure that their invoicing and financial documentation align seamlessly with their shipping operations. This alignment prevents errors, streamlines processes, and reduces the risk of financial discrepancies.

Platforms like 3rdwave's Automated Customs Management system offer systematic formalization and automation of the customs process. They centralize and control import, broker, and ACE data, managing vital information like HTS codes and duty rates. Additionally, these systems centralize trade documentation, including commercial invoices, bills of lading, and more. By integrating invoicing into the broader customs platform, shippers can optimize their financial processes. This integrated approach simplifies invoicing and ensures accuracy, saving time and reducing costly errors.

Tip #5: Be Detail Diligent

In international freight transportation, success is rooted in the details. Shippers must pay attention to the granular aspects of their shipments. SKU-level (product) and shipment-level (container) visibility are essential to provide shippers with the details they need to build both a micro and macro-level understanding of their international shipments.

Detailed insights into execution and cost at the SKU/shipment level enable shippers to make informed decisions, anticipate potential issues, and optimize their operations more effectively. It is this attention to detail that ensures nothing falls through the cracks. By monitoring every aspect of their shipments, shippers can mitigate risks, streamline processes, and deliver their cargo with precision.

International freight shippers can overcome common pitfalls and enhance global transportation operations by implementing these five essential tips. These strategies provide a comprehensive approach to managing the complexities of global logistics, leading to greater efficiency, reliability, and success in the intricate world of international shipping.

In a Volatile Global Shipping Landscape, Shippers Turn to 3rdwave

With disruptions lurking at every corner thanks to black swan events like COVID-19 or global conflicts, ocean shippers are increasingly turning to trusted tech solutions like 3rdwave that provide visibility and predictive insights in one place:

  • What sets 3rdwave apart is its dedicated approach to providing a transportation platform designed explicitly for international shipments. It fully integrates customs compliance and transportation management in a single platform that provides all stakeholders with product-level visibility. This level of integration is indispensable to ensuring everyone can access the information they need in their preferred system, to make informed decisions that keep products moving, or to get them back on track in the event of a disruption.
  • Beyond the technology, 3rdwave complements its platform with on-call industry expertise, ensuring that shippers can access invaluable guidance and support. This combination of cutting-edge technology and human insight allows shippers to build holistic efficiency throughout their international freight operations.
  • With real-time data, seamless integration, and expert support, businesses can confidently navigate the ever-changing international shipping landscape and succeed in even the most challenging environments.

Empowering Your Global Shipping Journey with 3rdWave

The world of international transportation is a complex and ever-evolving landscape. Shippers can overcome common pitfalls using 3rdwave's comprehensive solutions, including integrated customs compliance, streamlined visibility, actionable insights, integrated invoicing, and meticulous attention to detail.

The way forward for international freight shippers seeking success in logistics is clear: explore systems like 3rdwave and find out how these transformative platforms work. Embark on a journey towards efficient, reliable, and streamlined international transportation. Contact us today to learn how 3rdwave can empower your global shipping operations.

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