If your company is planning a move into overseas markets, the logistics part of the equation can be confusing. As many first-time international shippers find out, moving goods across the globe is considerably more complex than managing a domestic supply chain.
3 Tips to Prepare for International Shipping Operations
There is a lot to learn about international shipping, and regardless of the size of your organisation, it will make good sense (initially at least} to enlist the help of a freight forwarder, 3PL provider, and/or customs agent to help you navigate the international shipping environment.
To help you take your first steps in planning though, I thought it worth informing you of three things that all first-time international shippers should know (but often don’t) about getting products safely into the hands of overseas customers.
1. Loading Containers: Time is Money
If you’re a first-time international shipper, your goods-dispatch team might not be used to loading shipping containers.
Presumably though, container-loading will become a regular practice, and each time you have a container to load, there will only be so much time (typically two hours) to get the job done without incurring extra charges from the transport provider.
To avoid unwanted overtime payments, remember to ask your freight forwarder or logistics provider how much loading time is included in their transport fees.
Remember also to plan and implement a dispatch process that will get containers loaded efficiently and quickly. This will help you to avoid excess logistics costs and improve the profitability of overseas market penetration.
2. Select the Right Cargo Insurance
There are lots of things which can go wrong as your shipments make their way across oceans, and plenty of first-time international shippers have had to appease disgruntled customers due to product damage or losses en-route.
More to the point, unless you are providing products to your customers “ex-works,” your company will incur the unwanted costs of any items damaged or lost from your international shipments. You may also have to send replacement items to your customer, perhaps via expedited shipment.
If you insure your cargo correctly, you will at least be able to recoup the cost of any lost goods and so minimise the overall financial impact of any mishaps.
Cargo insurance selection can be something of a minefield, so this is definitely a topic to discuss with a good freight forwarder. Better still; let a good freight forwarder take care of cargo insurance on your behalf.
3. Protect Your Shipments from Container Rain
If your company is a first-time international shipper, you might not have heard about the perils of container rain. Ocean transport often means containers are subject to extreme variations in temperature and humidity, as ships move between regions of biting cold and tropical heat.
These changes of climate create condensation inside shipping containers, which then gathers on the container walls and ceiling before “raining” down on the containers’ contents.
It’s all well and good to insure your shipments, but that doesn’t protect you from the physical loss or damage to your shipped items. Therefore, it doesn’t protect you from the dissatisfaction of customers who receive short deliveries at the end of your supply chain.
It’s vital therefore, to know what steps will be taken to reduce the risk of container rain damaging your shipments. This is an important question to ask any logistics provider involved in transporting your products overseas, whether it be a freight forwarder, 3PL company, or contract carrier.
Information Sources for First-time International Shippers
The three tips offered in this post are merely a sample of the things first-time international shippers need to know. I have highlighted them because they’re not typically the first points that spring to mind for companies entering export markets. There is of course a great deal more to think about and plan for.
If your company is planning to ship products overseas, the best advice I can give you is to talk to some of the experts for whom international freight transport is a core competency.
Freight forwarders, customs agencies, logistics service providers and shipping companies (the ones that own the ships) can all be valuable sources of information, although you might have to weather a few sales pitches in return for their expert wisdom.
In fact, that’s why we developed the Supply Chain Leaders Insights concept; to provide companies like yours with access to supply chain and logistics experts at an event focused on help and advice—not on securing sales leads.
Look Out For the Next SCLI Event
Unfortunately, this year’s Supply Chain Leaders Insights event has already passed (very successfully), but please don’t forget to come along to the next one, especially if you have questions that you’d like to ask of the experts without getting into sales discussions.
We typically have specialists present from all corners of the logistics sector, including freight forwarders and global logistics providers. So if your company is based in Australia, we’ll hope to see you next time at SCLI. It’s the place to hear supply chain secrets—straight from the mouths of experts.