Trade Compliance

Embracing Product-Level Visibility and Automated Global Trade Compliance

Grant Sernick
May 23, 2024
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min read
Embracing Product-Level Visibility and Automated Global Trade ComplianceEmbracing Product-Level Visibility and Automated Global Trade Compliance

There are many hidden complexities when trying to meet the dual goals of regulatory compliance and supply chain visibility simultaneously. How do you pull it off? Check out the debut episode of 3rdwave’s Trade Talks Podcast for answers.

This inaugural episode covers the lessons 3rdwave learned while building its proprietary Shipment Execution Platform™ and pivoting to web-based solutions amid the evolving landscape of global trade compliance. We also get a glimpse into what 3rdwave’s vision is for the future of supply chain visibility.

To get a bird’s-eye view of this transition, podcast host Grant Sernick sat down with 3rdwave’s Chief Technology Officer, Josh Blinick, who led the transition firsthand.

Blinick, who has a great wealth of experience in international trade and transportation, particularly dealing with importers and international shippers, started at 3rdwave in 2007. He tells listeners how the increasing sophistication of web browsers mirrored and informed 3rdwave’s journey from designing custom solutions to offering more product-based applications.

“I’ve always been a big believer in companies having DNA, and when you look at what a company does and how they interact with the world, you can really see the effects of the imprint that DNA has on all that they do. And for us,  that DNA is the full supply chain,” Blinick said.

Emphasis on Automated Global Trade Compliance

3rdwave started honing in on automated global trade compliance after seeing how companies that use a broker have a lot of data in their systems that could be managed better. The company also continued to refine its existing purchasing module to meet customers’ needs even more.

Stock-keeping units (SKUs) can serve as the common denominator for a supply chain platform built around purchasing, sales, inventory, accounting, and transportation, Blinick said. Since 3rdwave had access to that information from shippers, he decided to build a system that could help shippers comply with government regulatory requirements related to customs management and trade compliance. The goal was to transform customers’ operational data into a validated customs entry — and automate the process to boot.

Customers “need packing lists and they need visibility into when containers are leaving or when air shipments are leaving and where they're arriving — all that kind of information. And they really are two sides of the same process,” Blinick said.

Solving the Need for Product-Level Visibility

While supply chain stakeholders usually refer to insights on a container’s whereabouts when describing supply chain visibility, 3rdwave’s experience with purchasing, sales, inventory, and transportation helped the company to create a new definition of enhanced visibility that also explains how 3rdwave helps customers. Product-level visibility considers the need for accuracy and contextual understanding in navigating the global trade landscape, using real-time data to support those goals for automated trade compliance and transportation.

“It’s nice to know where that container is, but really what we’re looking at is, what does it mean when we say a container is at this point or arriving at this point at a certain time… Visibility [is looking into] the context of that data point — or that change in data point — and the underlying product that sits within the container: what that means for the purchase order or sales order that’s tied to it,” Blinick said.

Although 3rdwave welcomes working with companies of various sizes, it serves small to midsize international shippers and BCOs who need visibility into import shipments.

“They appreciate having a partner that’s going to work with them over many years to streamline the software to meet their requirements. It’s always been where we enjoy being,” Blinick said.

Exploring Next-Gen Visibility Models

Blinick and his team have been steadily working on the next iterations of 3rdwave’s visibility product, including how understanding and providing more informed estimated arrival and departure dates can enable the alerting and dashboarding that customers want.  

“It’s amazing when you start looking at the five or six different layers of updates on a single point of arrival at a node or departure from a port. What do these dates mean, and then how do you use these dates within the system to measure performance or enable alerting when things don’t go according to plan,” Blinick said.

The freight transportation industry has only begun to explore how artificial intelligence (AI) might change or influence operations. But stakeholders will need to appreciate just how valuable data is in automating, managing and streamlining the global trade compliance process.

“There’s a lot of talk about generative AI when it comes to document reading and contextualization, which is a huge problem in an industry that still is dealing with a lot of PDF, Excel outputs,” Blinick said.

He continued,  “The challenge for …  making these technical roadmap decisions for our customers and for software companies is, how do you keep up with the advancements and try and stay one or two steps ahead of what’s going on.

“From our perspective and from where 3rdwave sits, what should happen is that companies are realizing that their data. is more valuable. Having better data and more data is a greater advantage in an AI world. Hopefully, there’s going to be a premium on software that can wrangle this data and help get it contextualized within an environment that can then be leveraged by the different AI offerings that are available,” Blinick said.

Listen to the full interview and get all the insights that Blinick and Sernick have to offer.

For more information about how 3rdwave helps international shippers manage Master Data, Transportation, and Automated Trade Compliance in a single platform, contact us today.  

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