Overcoming the Complexity of International Shipping

January 6, 2020 Comments Off on Overcoming the Complexity of International Shipping

International shipping adds a new level of complexity to the already complicated logistics business. Deciding if you will manage those shipments or collaborate with an experienced international shipping provider is a must. But regardless of your choice, keeping potential challenges in mind can help improve planning for international shipping.


International Challenges and Watch-Outs

It’s not surprising that border crossings present a number of challenges themselves. Regardless of how freight is moved between countries, it’s important to understand the processes and regulations for crossing borders.

Shipments will undergo customs checks to gain approval for entry to each country those goods are moving into. Every country has unique requirements about how and what is allowed to cross its borders. It’s important to keep a watch on the regulations for countries you frequently ship to as these requirements can change. Alternatively, establishing a relationship with customs brokers who stay up to date on changing regulations and help successfully navigate border crossings is an option.

Mode selection is also an important factor to consider. One key to efficient border crossings is to remain mode neutral. Being a mode-neutral shipper means you are open to the best transportation method to move freight. For example, to avoid transloading altogether shipments crossing North American borders be executed through an intermodal move where goods are transported from one country to another primarily using rail. Moving goods via rail may eliminate some of the delays that can happen with truckload border crossings and potentially increase on-time service. Understanding which shipping mode, or blend of modes, will provide the best combination of cost and service can improve supply chain efficiency and customer satisfaction.


Leveraging Expertise to Navigate International Freight Moves

The above examples are just a few basic considerations for international shipping. Many companies will opt to have a third party that has international shipping solutions execute the freight moves in order to avoid the many pitfalls that can occur from uninformed shipping decisions.


How an International Logistics Provider Can Help

On-site Personnel

Since many international freight shipment issues are experienced at the border, local personnel can be one of the most valuable resources at your disposal. A knowledgeable, on-site logistics team can interface directly with customs and border crossing agencies to resolve administrative and operational issues that can prevent your shipments from moving to their destination. With time zone differences and language barriers potentially adding to confusion, trying to resolve these issues on your own from a distance could possibly slow down, or even stall the process. Experienced, on-site personnel will speak the language of logistics and navigate an uncharted course on your behalf to ensure your shipments keep moving.

Specialized Experience

As previously mentioned, each country has unique rules and laws that impact the movement of goods across its borders. A third-party provider can bring a wealth of knowledge in these specific governance concerns and can collaborate with your company to develop individualized strategies for avoiding problems during border crossings and pre-set action plans for resolving issues when they do occur. Your chosen provider should bring together their understanding of your company’s shipping needs with their well-established relationships with carriers and governing agencies to help streamline your cross-border shipments.

Supporting Technology

Communication and shipment visibility are key components in establishing a trustworthy relationship with an outsourced logistics provider. Ideally, your chosen provider will also have made investments in technologies and tools that facilitate both of these. Logistics technologies and automatic notifications can assist with tracking shipments and proactive planning with pick-up and delivery facilities for appointment setting and exception management. While phone calls and manual email communication can be complicated by time zone gaps and working hours, shipment updates can happen around the clock, seven days a week.


Ready to get moving?

Whether you’re a seasoned shipper or new to international shipping, J.B. Hunt can help you create a plan for efficient, reliable logistics in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and select regions in Asia, including China. Reach out at jbhunt_international@jbhunt.com to see how we can help keep your goods moving.

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