New Articles

How to Best Prepare for Current (and upcoming) Supply Chain Disruptions

supply chain

How to Best Prepare for Current (and upcoming) Supply Chain Disruptions

Weekly meal planning is a recurring event in our household. Although this activity is not particularly exciting, every Saturday my wife and I sit down to plan out our family meals. This process helps us avoid the mid-week supermarket scramble, as well as sidestep overspending on items we don’t actually need. Sound familiar? Supply chain planning is no different when it comes to yielding efficient results, especially this year.

It’s no secret the way companies ship their freight has shifted due to COVID-19. C.H. Robinson is great at helping customers secure capacity and optimize their global freight across our suite of service offerings as their needs evolve. Due to COVID-19 market changes, our global team of supply chain experts has spent extra time securing expedited less than container load (LCL) capacity for companies that can work with extra lead time. Another big change is how many ghost or charter flights are used to make up for lost capacity from the mass decline in global passenger travel.

However, COVID-19 is not the only event putting pressure on the freight market now. And with passenger travel not expected to recover until 2024, proactive solutions are needed to avoid current and upcoming disruptions.

Prepping for peak shipping season and new tech launches

When it comes to maximizing your global freight, it’s important to take seasonality into consideration. Peak shipping season for global air freight historically begins in October, and we’re already anticipating a busy peak season due to the unbalanced relationship between supply and demand. Even if air freight volumes were consistent or less than previous years, there is a lot less capacity to work with. Additionally, ocean shipping is experiencing a busy peak season now as companies prepare for the holiday shopping surge.

Consumers are also eagerly awaiting new technology releases—including the iPhone 12, Sony PS5, Xbox, and more. High priced commodities, like consumer electronics, primarily ship via air. And while consumer tech launches are not uncommon during the holiday season, the lack of passenger planes aren’t helping the situation this year. This, combined with the volume surge in other commodities related to peak shipping season and continued demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) creates a tighter market.

What can global shippers do to combat tight capacity?

The key is to remain flexible and remember it’s never too late to start planning. Although some items, such as technology, tend to move by air, global shippers can consider shifting other commodities to expedited LCL or expedited full container load (FCL) service to mitigate disruption and stay agile in a tight global freight market.

However, for those shippers that truly depend on air capacity, shifting modes isn’t always an option. So, while ghost flights were a reactive solution for many this past spring, C.H. Robinson took our own planning advice and proactively chartered weekly 747 cargo flights from China to the U.S. from October to November, as well as Europe to the U.S. until the end of the year. Capacity on a 747 cargo aircraft can hold up to five times more freight than an average ghost flight. And our global network of experts knew proactively purchasing that space was necessary as global shippers face peak season, PPE from Asia, and a recovering economy out of Europe. We’re already seeing this approach drive solutions for our customers.

Looking forward to COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines are on the horizon. Once one or more is available for global circulation, it will likely create a significant ripple effect throughout supply chains. Even if your company is not directly connected to distributing or manufacturing a vaccine, the time to start planning alternative modes or routes is now.

Like technology, vaccines primarily ship via air to monitor the temperature and deliver them to market quickly. According to IATA, 8,000 747 flights would be needed to distribute a single dose of the vaccine to 7.8 billion people around the world. Although a vaccine with this large of a global magnitude is new, we can get a sense of the supply chain reaction by looking back at the height of global demand for PPE. Throughout the spring we saw airlines, 3PLs, carriers, companies, and government agencies go above and beyond, working extra hours and expediting products in order to create and deliver PPE around the globe quickly. It’s likely we’ll see the same comradery with the vaccine—pulling manpower and capacity away from other shipping needs.

Although we know air freight will play a vital role in distributing vaccines, last -mile is also an important area companies and logistic professionals are planning for. Last-mile planning will be especially important in countries where road or manufacturing infrastructure may be underdeveloped. However, keep in mind whether your company is involved in vaccine distribution or not, it’s still likely your supply chain will be impacted by higher transportation rates or additional capacity constraints across modes.

Final thoughts

As the pandemic spread across the globe, we saw air cargo rates rise to unprecedented levels. Airlines and cargo operators continue to adapt quickly to this dynamic market. Now it’s time for companies to evolve, too. Never before has a balance between proactive planning and flexibility been so important.

Planning ahead and using forecast data can be the difference needed to turn a dysfunctional supply chain into a strong, agile one that is ready to face this volatile market. We know logistics can’t exist in a world of absolutes. This makes it difficult to prepare for today’s (and tomorrow’s) disruptions—or even to know where to begin. That’s where C.H. Robinson comes in. Utilizing our information advantage, you can rely on our people to bring you smarter solutions across your global supply chain. Reach out to one of our experts today to start the conversation.

e-commerce

UPS, FEDEX, AMAZON, TARGET, WALMART AND BEST BUY ARE KILLING IT IN E-COMMERCE. HERE’S HOW.

COVID-19 has sped up e-commerce adoption across all industries as many businesses emerge from the global pandemic battered and bruised. At the end of 2019, e-commerce represented 11.3 percent of total U.S. retail sales. This percentage inched up to 11.8 percent at the end of the first quarter of this year. For the second-quarter, some estimates suggest this percentage could double, at minimum, as businesses closed, and consumers stayed home because of COVID-19.

Indeed, while increased online sales is not a new phenomenon, the speed with which new generations of customers have gone online is and has led to a change in demand that is unlikely to reverse quickly according to McKinsey & Company’s latest COVID-19 Briefing Materials: Global Health and Crisis Response (June 1, 2020). McKinsey estimates that 20-60 percent more U.S. consumers are digital as a result of COVID-19. Stickiness of digital, localization, and selectiveness in spending are major trends that businesses will need to address as the pandemic alters the way business is conducted.

McKinsey also found that consumers are shopping online more and are more willing to switch across brands. This can be seen in one the biggest “winners:” groceries. According to Adobe’s Digital Economy Index, online groceries grew 110 percent in daily sales between March and April. However, there were delays in last-mile deliveries as companies including Amazon, Walmart and Instacart had to hire more workers to assist with the increased consumer demand.

In March, Amazon had to restrict non-essential shipments from third-party sellers and other retail vendors and focus on receipt, restocking and delivery of essential products that were most in demand. Meanwhile, Walmart touted not only its online store capabilities but also curbside pickup. The result was a strong first-quarter earnings for the period ending April 30 with comparable-store sales up 10 percent and e-commerce sales up 74 percent. Strongest sales were in food, consumables, health, and wellness.

Retailer Target also noted strong first-quarter sales. While comparable-store sales increased only 0.9 percent in its first-quarter ending April 30, e-commerce sales jumped 141 percent with 80 percent of e-commerce orders fulfilled in Target’s stores. Food and beverages rose over 20 percent, essential and beauty 10 percent, and home rose in the single digits.

As more workers work from home, electronics and furniture sales also increased. Best Buy noted in the eight days ending March 20, sales jumped 25 percent as customers purchased work-from-home-related items. As stores closed, online sales increased more than 250 percent, with half of those orders using curbside service available at most Best Buy stores.

For small parcel carriers including FedEx and UPS, the e-commerce volumes proved to be a boon. Both carriers have been preparing for rising e-commerce volumes by introducing such service offerings as seven-day deliveries, faster delivery times, later pick-up times, returns solutions, fulfillment solutions designed for e-retailers, alternative delivery pick-up and drop off locations and more. By all accounts, FedEx and UPS appeared prepared to handle the sudden e-commerce volume increases.

Just as the COVID-19 impact was being felt in the U.S., UPS noted in its first-quarter earnings that March volumes were 70 percent business-to-consumer (B2C) with April trending similar. FedEx also noted a similar trend with higher than usual B2C volumes.

The result was a sharp increase in residential volumes for both carriers and delays occurred. It should be noted that residential deliveries are typically more costly for FedEx and UPS versus business-to-business moves in which batches of parcels can be picked up and delivered at once.

A number of consumers took to social media to voice their frustrations and share photos of overflowing packages at carriers’ facilities. However, not only were carriers faced with higher than normal volumes, but they were also dealing with the coronavirus itself, affecting an unknown number of FedEx and UPS employees who would otherwise be sorting packages, loading and unloading delivery vehicles and delivering packages. Networks slowed as a result.

Having temporarily suspended all service guarantees and implemented international peak surcharges in March to handle a surge in international volumes, FedEx and UPS introduced new temporary peak surcharges to address the U.S. domestic situation.

UPS’s latest surcharges took effect on May 31 and addressed Residential, SurePost, and Large Parcels. Meanwhile, FedEx’s domestic temporary peak surcharges took effect on June 8 and addressed Residential for FedEx Ground and FedEx Express parcels, SmartPost, and Oversize Parcels for FedEx Ground and FedEx Express parcels. Keep in mind, these temporary peak surcharges are in addition to already existing surcharges and individual shipper’s contracted rates.

Besides surcharges, FedEx also capped some shippers’ volumes. This is a similar approach to what the carrier does during the holiday season if a shipper exceeds agreed-upon volume commitments. However, this is not the traditional holiday season and many shippers were caught off guard by this tactic. UPS also took a page out of their holiday season playbook and dispersed managers and supervisors across the U.S. to pitch in and help at sorting facilities and deliver parcels.

The rapid increase in e-commerce parcels seemed to catch FedEx and UPS off-guard and significantly impact their lower margin service, Residential. Moving beyond the COVID-19 crisis, e-commerce will play a bigger role in B2C as well as B2B. Businesses will utilize a number of creative ways to handle the last mile – curbside pickup, buy online, pickup in-store, residential, third party locations for pickup and delivery, and more. FedEx and UPS will need to work closely with customers to share capacity availability and concerns.

 _______________________________________________________________________________________________

John Haber is the founder and CEO of Spend Management Experts. With more than 25 years of supply-chain experience, John has helped some of the world’s leading brands drive greater efficiencies through their supply-chain operations while reducing transportation, distribution and fulfillment costs. He began his career at UPS, where he held various executive level positions in corporate finance and corporate strategy and was instrumental in developing profitability and costing models. He also managed the carrier’s National Accounts Profitability Group where he audited the pricing and profitability of UPS’ top customers. John’s finance background combined with decades of experience working with high-volume shippers enables him to offer unique insights on strategic supply chain planning, including distribution model optimization, transportation cost analysis and carrier contract optimization and compliance.

frozen fish

Germany, the UK, and France Dominate the European Frozen Fish Fillet Market

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘EU – Frozen Fish Fillet – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The EU frozen fish fillet market totaled $6.6B in 2019 (IndexBox estimates), surging by 5.1% against the previous year. This figure reflects the total revenues of producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, retail marketing costs, and retailers’ margins, which will be included in the final consumer price). The market value increased at an average annual rate of +2.0% from 2013 to 2019; the trend pattern remained consistent, with only minor fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. The pace of growth appeared the most rapid in 2018 with an increase of 7.7% year-to-year. Over the period under review, the market reached the maximum level in 2019 and is likely to see gradual growth in years to come.

Consumption by Country

The countries with the highest volumes of frozen fish fillet consumption in 2019 were Germany (275K tonnes), the UK (193K tonnes) and France (155K tonnes), together comprising 48% of total consumption. Spain, Poland, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, Malta, Austria, Belgium, and Hungary lagged somewhat behind, together comprising a further 42%.

From 2013 to 2019, the most notable rate of growth in terms of frozen fish fillet consumption, amongst the main consuming countries, was attained by Malta, while frozen fish fillet consumption for the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, Germany ($1.2B), the UK ($1.2B), and France ($901M) were the countries with the highest levels of market value in 2019, together accounting for 51% of the total market. These countries were followed by Spain, Italy, Poland, Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands, Hungary, Belgium, and Malta, which together accounted for a further 40%.

In 2019, the highest levels of frozen fish fillet per capita consumption were registered in Malta (77 kg per person), followed by Sweden (3.71 kg per person), Austria (3.43 kg per person) and Germany (3.35 kg per person), while the world average per capita consumption of frozen fish fillet was estimated at 2.55 kg per person.

In Malta, frozen fish fillet per capita consumption increased at an average annual rate of +6.7% over the period from 2013-2019. In other countries, the average annual rates were as follows: Sweden (-4.9% per year) and Austria (-0.8% per year).

Imports in the EU

In 2019, the amount of frozen fish fillet imported in the European Union was estimated at 1.4M tonnes, remaining relatively unchanged against the previous year’s figure. In general, imports recorded a relatively flat trend pattern. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2016 with an increase of 4.5% against the previous year. In value terms, frozen fish fillet imports amounted to $7.1B (IndexBox estimates) in 2019.

Imports by Country

In 2019, Germany (339K tonnes), distantly followed by the UK (162K tonnes), Poland (155K tonnes), France (154K tonnes), Spain (143K tonnes), the Netherlands (105K tonnes) and Italy (89K tonnes) were the largest importers of frozen fish fillet, together comprising 82% of total imports.

Germany experienced a relatively flat trend pattern with regard to the volume of imports of frozen fish fillet. At the same time, Poland (+2.0%) and Italy (+1.6%) displayed positive paces of growth. Moreover, Poland emerged as the fastest-growing importer imported in the European Union, with a CAGR of +2.0% from 2013-2019. Spain, the Netherlands, France, and the UK experienced a relatively flat trend pattern. The shares of the largest importers remained relatively stable throughout the analyzed period.

In value terms, the largest frozen fish fillet importing markets in the European Union were Germany ($1.5B), the UK ($1B), and France ($897M), with a combined 49% share of total imports. Spain, Poland, Italy, and the Netherlands lagged somewhat behind, together comprising a further 32%.

Among the main importing countries, Spain saw the highest growth rate of the value of imports, over the period under review, while purchases for the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Import Prices by Country

In 2019, the frozen fish fillet import price in the European Union amounted to $5,096 per tonne, growing by 4.4% against the previous year. Over the last six years, it increased at an average annual rate of +2.1%. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2017 when the import price increased by 5.3% year-to-year. Over the period under review, import prices attained the maximum in 2019 and are likely to continue growing in years to come.

Prices varied noticeably by the country of destination; the country with the highest price was the UK ($6,351 per tonne), while Poland ($3,415 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2013 to 2019, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Spain, while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform

structure

Create a Flexible Corporate Structure to Develop High Performance Leadership in Global Companies

This article portrays a more detailed picture of the effects of flexible structures on knowledge management. This article also indicates that executives can implement structural changes for better leading their companies. This article summarizes my experience as a senior management consultant and is about getting the information needed to be successful in the right hands of executives worldwide.

How Can Flexible Structures Improve Leadership Effectiveness?

A flexible structure is necessary to lead a global organization. This type of corporate structure is at the forefront of the knowledge base and has relative value in organizations throughout North American and the rest of the developed countries. When executives generate flexible corporate structures inspiring innovation and creativity within organizations, they will secure a foothold in an ever-changing hypercompetitive marketplace.

Corporate structure has been defined as a pattern by which organizations can divide their activities and tasks as well as control them to achieve higher degrees of coordination. Corporate structure, therefore, refers to the bureaucratic division of labor accompanied by control and coordination between different tasks in order to develop communication within organizations. 

Corporate structure can be reshaped by executives when they develop knowledge sharing and inspire employees to create new ideas for a better environment among business-units and departments. Sirkka Jarvenpaa and Sandy Staples, prominent authors and scholars in the area of management at The University of Texas at Austin maintain that the informal structure could facilitate new idea generation to build a more innovative climate within organizations. Executives can, therefore, implement structural changes that develop better collaboration among subordinates and managers. 

Centralized versus decentralized decision making is also a topic that management executives must deal with. More emphasis on formalized and mechanistic structures can negatively impact the executive’s ability to exert such changes. On the contrary, a more decentralized and flexible structure may improve departmental and managerial interactions. The mechanical or centralization at the commanding level of leadership impairs the opportunity to develop relationships among managers, business units, and departments. 

Executives can reshape corporate structure to be more effective when the command center of organizations can disseminate information in a decentralized and organic way as opposed to the mechanical and centralized command center. Decentralized structures shift the power of decision-making to the lower levels and subsequently inspire organizational members to create new ideas and even implement them while centralized structures may negatively impact interdepartmental communications and inhibit knowledge exchange.

An empirical study by Wei Zheng, Baiyin Yang and Gary McLean in Texas A&M University affirms that there is a negative impact of centralization on various knowledge management processes such as knowledge acquiring, creating, and sharing among both managers and departmental units. On the contrary, a more decentralized and flexible structure may enable executives in improving departmental and managerial interactions that can lead to identify the best opportunities for investment that potentially leads to improve knowledge utilization processes for companies. Both scholars and executives have acknowledged some form of relationship between corporate structure and the knowledge utilization process. Ergo, executives can positively contribute to knowledge management by building more decentralized structures within organizations.

The key take-away for executives is to facilitate knowledge management by developing a more flexible structure that is considered an essential source for developing relationships. Therefore, if the corporate structure is not completely in favor of supporting knowledge management, executives cannot effectively manage organizational knowledge to improve overall performance and companies cannot be effective. Hence, the key kernel for executives is that corporate structure is a resource that enables organizations to solve problems and create value through improved performance and it is this point that will narrow the gaps of success and failure leading to more successful decision-making.

How Can Knowledge Management Improve Leadership Effectiveness?

The process of knowledge exchange enhances an executive’s capabilities to play the role of an inspirational motivator in their company as it allows them to set desired expectations by recognizing possible opportunities in the business environment. The knowledge exchange also positively contributes to executives developing a more effective vision for their employees, with access to a comprehensive array of information and insights about the external environments. By creating a vision of what is achievable, executives can then integrate knowledge internally to enhance efficiencies in their business systems and processes that align with this vision, as well as to be more responsive to any current market changes. 

To be effective, knowledge integration also requires a continuous process of monitoring and evaluating your internal knowledge management practices, coordinating experts, sharing knowledge and scanning the changes of knowledge requirements to keep the quality of work and produce in-line with market demand. By undertaking knowledge integration activities that incorporate all levels of the company, executives can assess any required changes that will keep the quality of their services at maximum efficiency. Instilling this systematic approach of coordinating company-wide experts also enables executives to propel the role of intellectual stimulation, which creates a more innovative environment within companies. 

Executives are also responsible for curtailing knowledge within companies, as and when it needs to be reconfigured to meet environmental changes and new challenges. Essentially, what worked yesterday or a few years ago has already changed rapidly, and will continue to do so as technology increases in prolific ways.

Knowledge is commonly shared at a global level amongst companies through domestic and global rewards such as the Malcolm Baldridge Award in the United States and the Deming Award in Japan. However, past industry research posits that companies might lack the required capabilities to access and develop this knowledge or decide to decline from interacting with other organizations due to distrust to share or take knowledge. Therefore, expert groups may not have sufficient diversity to comprehend the knowledge acquired from external sources.

However, despite these limitations whether natural or caused, networking with business partners is a key activity for companies to enhance knowledge exchange and should not take an award to be the impetus to initiate interaction. Ergo, networking with external business partners will enhance the effectiveness of leadership, empowering executives to better develop strategic insights for a more effective vision that incorporates the various concerns and values of external business partners.

Ultimately, knowledge transfer amongst organizations improves the effectiveness of learning, which in turn enables executives to empower human resources through creating new knowledge and solutions. Thus, I suggest that networking takes place between organizations in both domestic and international markets to enhance the effective use of management. As executives in senior positions effectively use knowledge management this is likely to improve their leadership effectiveness through increased learning opportunities.  Figure 1 illustrates how flexible structures lead to the improvement of knowledge management and leadership.  

In Conclusion

This article can portray a more detailed picture of the effects of a flexible structure on knowledge management performance. When executives ensure the effectiveness of knowledge management projects they increase control and lesson operational risk. Furthermore, knowledge management constitutes the foundation of a supportive workplace to disseminate knowledge and subsequently enhance the effectiveness of leadership. In fact, a firm’s ability to develop leadership can be highly affected when executives implement knowledge management projects as the primary form of managing people, resources, and profitability.

Executives can now see how they can implement structural changes, which can enable superior knowledge management performance to achieve business objectives and satisfy careers. In addition, this article is set in place to inspire executives to create effective structural changes in order to meet and exceed the challenges of not only today but also what we see as the onset of new advances in the future. The practices mentioned in this article can also represent a complete answer to the need for structural changes in today’s global market environment.

I suggest that scholars take these ideas and continue to conduct research using executives as the focal point so that academic scholarship can meet the needs of managerial implications at the higher echelons of companies worldwide. 

_____________________________________________________________________

Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to business publications and his work has been featured in top-flight business publications.

saw log

The Pandemic to Put a Drag on the Growth of the Global Coniferous Saw Log And Veneer Log Market

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Saw Logs And Veneer Logs (Coniferous) – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The Global Saw Log and Veneer Log Market Expanded Robustly Over the Last Decade

The global market for saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) totaled $68.8B in 2019, increasing by 2.5% against the previous year. This figure reflects the total revenues of producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, taxes, and margins, which will be included in the final consumer price). The market value increased at an average annual rate of +1.3% over the period from 2007 to 2019; the trend pattern remained relatively stable, with somewhat noticeable fluctuations throughout the analyzed period. Global consumption peaked in 2019 and is expected to retain growth in the near future.

The countries with the highest volumes of consumption of saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) in 2019 were the U.S. (261M cubic meters), Russia (168M cubic meters), and Canada (113M cubic meters), with a combined 46% share of global consumption. In value terms, the largest saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) markets worldwide were the U.S. ($13.2B), Russia ($9.3B), and Canada ($5.7B), together comprising 41% of the global market.

Sawlogs and veneer logs are one of the basic materials around the world, as they serve as raw materials for the production of sawn wood and all kinds of wood-based panels, which are widely used in construction, and, at a lesser extent, in industry. The key factor determining the development of the saw logs and veneer logs market is the dynamics of construction in a particular country, which, in turn, depends on a set of economic and social factors: population growth, employment and income of the population, economic growth of the country, rates of urbanization, investment volumes and the availability of credit resources for the population, which altogether reflect the overall GDP growth.

Over the past years, the global construction industry has grown at a steady pace thanks to residential construction and major investment infrastructure projects, in both emerging markets and some developed markets. The main driver of growth in the global construction industry was the growing demand from developing countries, mainly China and the countries of Southeast Asia.

In these countries the economic growth rates are the highest in the world, which is accompanied by active urbanization and growth of the population’s income; all this together leads to an expansion of the volume of housing, industrial, and infrastructural construction. The pace of construction in the United States was also high, which was due to both the growth of the economy and the tendency to move from large cities to the suburbs, as well as active immigration; these factors were especially relevant to the saw log market due to the high popularity of wood construction materials in America.

The Lockdown and Uncertainty in the Construction Sector to Hamper the Market Growth

Until 2020, the global economy has been developing steadily for five years, although at a slower pace than in the previous decade. The slowdown in global economic growth was caused by increased political uncertainty in the world and trade wars between the United States and China. According to the World Bank outlook from January 2020, the global economy was expected to pick up the growth momentum and increase by from +2.5% to +2.7% per year in the medium term.

In early 2020, however, the global economy entered a period of the crisis caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to battle the spread of the virus, most countries in the world implemented quarantine measures that put on halt production and transport activity. The result will be a drop in GDP relative to previous years and a sharp fall in the demand for oil, which led to extremely low prices and heavy oil production cuts.

The combination of those factors disrupts economic growth heavily throughout the world. According to World Bank forecasts, despite the gradual relaxing of restrictive measures and unprecedented government support in countries that faced the pandemic in early 2020, the annual decline of global GDP could amount to -5.2%, which is the deepest global recession being seen over the past eight decades.

In Asian countries, especially China, which faced the pandemic earlier than others, the epidemic situation improved earlier, with the quarantine measures largely relaxed, and the economy is gradually recovering from the forced outage. Thus, in China, by the end of 2020, an increase of 1% is expected (while a year earlier it was 6.1%), and in general in Southeast Asia in 2020, an increase of 0.5% is expected. In the medium term, it is assumed that the economy will gradually recover over several years as the restrictions are finally lifted.

The U.S., by contrast, is struggling with a drastic short-term recession, with the expected contraction of GDP of approx. -6.1% in 2020, as the hit of the pandemic was harder than expected, and unemployment soared due to the shutdown and social isolation. In the medium term, should the pandemic outbreak end in the second half of 2020, the economy is to start recovering in 2021 and then return to the market trend of the gradual growth, driven by the fundamentals existed before 2020 and boosted by support measures imposed by the government. In the European Union, the economy may plunge by 9% in 2020, in many other countries a comparable negative trend is also expected.

An additional serious risk for the medium-term recovery is the growth of geopolitical tensions in the world, especially between the United States and China, which are being drawn into a political confrontation on a wide range of issues. If sanctions and restrictions are tightened, it will hit global trade and worsen economic growth both in the United States and China and in many other countries involved in supply chains.

The construction sector has proven extremely vulnerable to the pandemic as due to quarantine measures, construction projects were paused, and the drop in incomes of the population makes mortgage loans less affordable. Thus, the above economic prerequisites will have the most negative impact on the production of building materials, and, therefore, on the consumption of saw logs and veneer logs.

Taking into account the above, it is expected that in 2020 global consumption of saw logs and veneer logs will drop by approx. 5%. In the medium term, as the global economy recovers from the effects of the pandemic, the market is expected to grow gradually. Overall, market performance is forecast to expand with an anticipated CAGR of +0.3% for the period from 2019 to 2030, which is projected to bring the market volume to 1.2B cubic meters by the end of 2030.

Production

For the seventh consecutive year, the global market recorded growth in the production of saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous), which increased by 1.8% to 1.2B cubic meters in 2019. The total output volume increased at an average annual rate of +1.5% from 2007 to 2019; the trend pattern remained consistent, with only minor fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2010 when the production volume increased by 6.4% year-to-year. Global production peaked in 2019 and is expected to retain growth in years to come.

In value terms, the production of saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) expanded modestly to $69.8B in 2019 estimated at export prices. The total output value increased at an average annual rate of +1.6% from 2007 to 2019; the trend pattern remained relatively stable, with only minor fluctuations being recorded in certain years. The growth pace was the most rapid in 2017 when the production volume increased by 9.4% y-o-y. Over the period under review, global production attained the peak level in 2019 and is likely to see gradual growth in the immediate term.

Production By Country

The countries with the highest volumes of production of saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) in 2019 were the U.S. (278M cubic meters), Russia (181M cubic meters), and Canada (120M cubic meters), with a combined 49% share of global production. These countries were followed by Sweden, Finland, Brazil, New Zealand, Germany, Poland, Chile, China, and Japan, which together accounted for a further 30%.

From 2007 to 2019, the biggest increases were in New Zealand, while the production of saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) for the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Imports

In 2019, global imports of saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) totaled 155M cubic meters, growing by 3.4% against 2018 figures. Overall, imports saw a relatively flat trend pattern. The pace of growth appeared the most rapid in 2010 when imports increased by 24% against the previous year. Global imports peaked at 165M cubic meters in 2014; however, from 2015 to 2019, imports remained at a lower figure. In value terms, imports of saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) contracted to $8.1B (IndexBox estimates) in 2019.

China Remains the Largest Market for Imported Coniferous Saw Logs and Veneer Logs

China was the key importer of saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) in the world, with the volume of imports accounting for 69M cubic meters, which was approx. 45% of total imports in 2019. Austria (17M cubic meters) occupied an 11% share (based on tonnes) of total imports, which put it in second place, followed by Sweden (7.3%), Japan (7%), Germany (6.8%) and South Korea (4.8%). Belgium (3.7M cubic meters) followed a long way behind the leaders.

Imports in China increased at an average annual rate of +4.2% from 2007 to 2019. At the same time, Belgium (+7.5%), Germany (+5.3%), Sweden (+4.4%) and Austria (+2.5%) displayed positive paces of growth. Moreover, Belgium emerged as the fastest-growing importer imported in the world, with a CAGR of +7.5% from 2007-2019. By contrast, South Korea (-3.4%) and Japan (-5.4%) illustrated a downward trend over the same period.

In value terms, China ($4.1B) constitutes the largest market for imported saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) worldwide, comprising 50% of global imports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Japan ($663M), with a 8.2% share of global imports. It was followed by Austria, with a 7.2% share.

From 2007 to 2019, the average annual growth rate of value in China amounted to +5.5%. In the other countries, the average annual rates were as follows: Japan (-4.0% per year) and Austria (-1.0% per year).

The average import price for saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) stood at $53 per cubic meter in 2019, shrinking by -3.3% against the previous year. Over the period under review, the import price recorded a relatively flat trend pattern. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2008 an increase of 17% y-o-y. As a result, import price attained the peak level of $63 per cubic meter. From 2009 to 2019, the growth in terms of the average import prices remained at a somewhat lower figure.

There were significant differences in the average prices amongst the major importing countries. In 2019, the country with the highest price was Japan ($61 per cubic meter), while Belgium ($34 per cubic meter) was amongst the lowest.

From 2007 to 2019, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Japan, while the other global leaders experienced mixed trends in the import price figures.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform

cross-border

Supporting Global Supply Chain Strategy with Cross-Border Shipping

COVID-19 has shed light on the importance of shippers being prepared to work through unforeseen market conditions. This is especially true for cross-border shippers, whose businesses are reliant on multiple countries’ markets. To better prepare for these variations, businesses that rely on cross-border shipping should consider optimizing their supply chain strategies now by dedicating time to understand the cross-border options available to them. There are two primary choices: through-trailer and transloading.

What’s the difference?

Through-trailer shipping is the process of moving shipments in the origin trailer through border crossings. Whether exporting or importing, through-trailer shipments are handled on one side of the border with a carrier from the same country who has an interchange agreement. A different carrier from the other country handles the second part of the shipment.

To illustrate, a Mexico carrier with a trailer interchange agreement with a U.S. carrier picks up the freight. It’s taken to a secure yard where a border drayage driver transports the trailer across the border to the U.S. carrier’s yard for final delivery.

The shipment remains in the same trailer throughout the transport process, leading some shippers to believe the shipment seal is not broken. This is not necessarily true. U.S. and Mexico customs officials often break seals during border crossing inspections to verify product details.

Transloading is another option and is often considered more efficient. Transloading is the process of transferring shipments from one trailer to another at the border crossing. For example, a Mexico carrier picks up the freight and moves it to a secure yard at the border. A border drayage carrier moves the trailer across the border to a transloading facility. The facility then transfers the product to a U.S. carrier for final delivery.

The Benefits of Transloading

While both options have their pros and cons, transloading can offer some unique benefits that fall into three categories:

Additional Carrier Capacity: Transloading offers shippers additional carrier capacity because it enables them to access the full capacity of two independent carrier bases. Any U.S. carrier can pair with any Mexico carrier on a shipment, increasing available carrier options and granting additional flexibility. Through-trailer service only allows shippers to use carriers with an interchange agreement in place with a counterpart carrier on the other side of the border, limiting the capacity pool. With lessened demand not filling up truckloads, the ability to leverage the additional carrier capacity to identify which carriers’ trucks best match truckloads keeps products moving to meet consumer demand.

Lower Shipping Costs: Transloading grants access to additional capacity on both sides of the border, which means more, and potentially more efficient, carrier options. With transloading, shippers and logistics providers can identify carriers whose networks most closely align with theirs, resulting in more cost-effective rates. During a time when all departments are urged to cut costs where possible, the method with lower shipping costs benefits everyone involved.

Fewer Border Delays: The broad variety of carriers available to shippers makes it easier to source carriers on both sides of the border that best match the ideal pick-up and delivery time frames. Through-trailer shipments are dependent upon the limited capacity of the two carriers tied to an interchange agreement. In turn, this can lead to delays at borders and in overall shipments. Such delays are becoming more widespread because of the imbalance between northbound and southbound freight.

The Types of Freight to be Transloaded

Any specialized transloading facility located near a major border should have the ability to handle a variety of freight, although some types work better than others. Freight loaded on slip sheets or pallets typically fare best with transloading, especially consumer packaged goods, food and beverage, and raw materials. Transloading is also prevalent when shipping to warehouses with strict labeling and palletization requirements. Conversely, freight is better off using through-trailer shipping when it requires specialized loading, contains over-dimensional products, or includes flatbed shipments.

The needs of each shipper with a global supply chain strategy differ and come with unique challenges and requirements. It’s critical for each shipper to know their cross-border options and determine which will work best for their business. By being knowledgeable and prepared, shippers can more easily select which process to implement based on what is most important to their company at the time, whether that be price, shipping time, or carrier capacity.

__________________________________________________________________

Kyle Toombs is the VP and Head of Mexico and Canada at Coyote Logistics

global

These Global Traders are Keeping Things Moving

Richard Jung has joined NFI as vice president of Sales. He brings the Camden, New Jersey-based supply chain solutions provider more than 30 years of international transportation experience at such concerns as Mitsui OSK Line, Maersk Lines, Crane Worldwide and Evergreen Line.

Dachser is used to moving things around, something that now extends to the Kempten, Germany-based global logistics provider’s top offices. CEO Bernhard Simon will step down in 2021 to head the family-owned company’s Supervisory Board. Burkhard Eling is slated to take Simon’s place as CEO on Jan. 1, 2021. Robert Erni, who will succeed Eling as CFO, begins his onboarding phase at Dachser on Sept. 1 as a deputy director.

Jessica Tyler has been named president of Cargo and vice president of Airport Excellence with American Airlines. She now leads the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier’s teams responsible for the success of the cargo business and delivering operational and customer service excellence for both airports and cargo.

Gonzalo Hernandez has moved to Seoul, South Korea, to become Delta Cargo’s general manager of Cargo Sales-Asia Pacific. Jonathan Corbi has replaced Hernandez as interim general manager for the Europe, Middle East, Africa and India region. Eric Anderson, who’d had the position in Seoul, returned to Delta’s Atlanta base to become director of Cargo Strategy, Alliances and Technology.

Jess Herrera, the longest serving commissioner at Port Hueneme (California), was recently received the 2020 Latino Leadership Award from the Pacific Coast Business Times, which also named the California port’s CEO and Port Director Kristin Decas as a Top Woman in Business.

Steven Polmans, director of Cargo & Logistics at Brussels Airport Co., has decided to make a career shift by the end of 2020. Over the next months, he will continue leading the European airport’s cargo business and retain his leadership functions at Air Cargo Belgium and The International Air Cargo Association.

Matthew R. Nicely has joined Akin Gump as a partner in its international trade practice in Washington, D.C. Nicely, who arrives from Hughes Hubbard & Reed, maintains a market access-focused practice centered on trade remedies and customs work as well as on disputes before the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Scott Lincicome has joined the Cato Institute full-time as a senior fellow in economic studies, with a focus on international and domestic economic and trade policy. He began at the Washington, D.C.-based think tank in 1998 as a trade policy research assistant and previously worked as an international trade attorney with extensive experience in trade litigation before national agencies and courts, the European Commission and the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body.

Cultural intelligence

Leading in a Volatile World: How Cultural Intelligence and Political Risk Abilities will Define Winners in the New Global Trade Environment

The world economic environment has been roiled by the impact of a lengthy trade war, the far-reaching impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and social protests which have ramped up consumer scrutiny of company practices. This new and volatile arena presents stiff challenges requiring different skills from business leaders.  While some companies will fold under the strain of the lockdowns and global stagnation, others will survive but face a brave new world where many of the trade norms and logistics habits of previous years will have disappeared. Navigating this terrain successfully will, of course, require agility and innovation but also a profound understanding of global trends, diverse cultures, and the rapidly changing political and regulatory structures of international markets.

The growing importance of cultural intelligence in business leadership will sharpen in this multi-faceted trade environment, and political risk analysis will take a critical role in shaping company strategies. Leaders with strong cultural intelligence and an understanding of political risk in this unsettled business environment will have a significant edge in finding new customers, identifying strong partners for mergers and acquisitions, and in comprehending and partnering with the new political forces that will spring up in the wake of this global disruption.

The trade conflict between the U.S. and China forced many companies to decouple their production from established facilities in Asia and reevaluate business opportunities and partnerships in the global market. The tariffs alone caused some businesses, living as they were on slim margins, to fold. Others scrambled to develop, on short notice, new production facilities, and hurried global partnerships. Savvy companies recognized the crucial importance of properly vetting the political risk of potential new locations to ensure that they would welcome new investors for the long-term. They also had to make a sober assessment of which countries might be in the crosshairs of trade conflict in these uncertain times.

On top of the political risk concerns, leaders had to ensure that the working cultures of these new sites and new partners would align with their company values and communication preferences. How would they match up culturally?

Following on the heels of this abrupt and wrenching change to the global economy came the pandemic shutdown. The challenges that were brought on by the trade conflict pales in comparison to the economic impact we’ve seen over the last few months as businesses are cut off from their producers, employees and customers in ways never previously seen in the modern global economy. For the companies that survive this shutdown, the concern is urgent – how can they best position themselves to not only survive but thrive in the new international business environment? Only leaders with a firm understanding of the tenets of cultural intelligence and the tools of political risk analysis will be able to grasp and exploit the opportunities that are developing in the ‘new’ global market.

“Common Sense” is not a Common Currency

When working globally in this volatile environment, it is not possible to prepare for any and all potential outcomes, especially when there are such unpredictable variables in people. What may be “common sense” to one person may not be common to another. Each person is influenced by culture, personal experiences, and cognitive interpretation which impacts values, attitudes, and behaviors. So how do global business leaders prepare for the unexpected when there is no playbook for every situation and every person? They develop their cultural intelligence skills.

Cultural intelligence is an interpersonal skill that has emerged in the last two decades from the same body of research as emotional intelligence. It is the capability to function and relate effectively with others in culturally diverse contexts. Cultural intelligence is a crucial tool to help leaders adapt and work effectively with people who have different cultural orientations, values, and expectations.

How do political risk and cultural intelligence go together?

When leaders get involved in a foreign culture, there are many cues that can be easily missed or misunderstood. Most leaders will be familiar with objective culture cues, such as a country’s economic performance, political system, and social institutions. They may become familiar with social customs, history, arts, language, food, and kinship relationships. Market analysis reports and “Doing Business in…” books look at this objective data, comparing national measurements and the visible artifacts between two or more cultures. However, the subjective culture cues are harder to interpret and certainly challenging to measure. These cues are hidden psychological inputs such as values, beliefs, norms, and assumptions. For example, a leader may be well-read on the legal, political, and social frameworks of foreign culture but understanding how conflict is expressed (or not expressed) and resolved in a particular culture is the crucial domain of cultural intelligence.

Leaders with an individualistic and confrontational communication style may struggle when working with a counterpart who prioritizes relationships and harmony. If leaders are not aware of the subjective cultural cues, deciphering “silence” in those contexts may leave a wide interpretive space between compliance and defiance. If any leader assumes his or her own cultural perspective and behaviors are superior ways to “get things done”, that leader will almost certainly fail to build trust and succeed in a foreign environment.

Even great cultural intelligence does not deliver business success if politics threaten market stability. Thus, cultural intelligence needs to go hand-in-hand with an understanding of the relevant global and local politics and risks. A definition of political risk for global leaders is whether business interests and market stability are threatened by unexpected or chaotic government action. Those terms – unexpected or chaotic – highlight the difference between government action detrimental to business interests that is normal, and which can be forecast (regulations, new taxes, changes in currency exchange rates) from government action that is unexpected. This issue of ‘expected’ and ‘unexpected’ is a clear nexus between the arts of cultural intelligence and political risk: a profound understanding of a culture can help navigate political risk and reactions to outside pressure.

Everything is ‘unexpected’ if leaders do not understand the culture, but savvy and adept practitioners are much more capable of responding appropriately, in culturally intelligent ways, in the face of government actions and reactions.

How can global leaders sharpen their cultural intelligence?

Cultural intelligence and political risk analysis can be learned and share certain key characteristics. An ability to speak a foreign language not only improves your cultural knowledge, it also gives you a key tool to understanding the risk factors in a foreign market as you can delve into primary sources of political and business reporting.

While cultural competency is one component of Cultural intelligence, it is a skill that goes well beyond just facts and knowledge. It is made up of four capabilities, each of which can be developed and sharpened:

Motivational

What is it: This relates to the leader’s desire and ability to direct attention and energy toward learning about and functioning in intercultural situations.

One tip to improve it: Leaders who connect deeply with their motivation, it helps them persist and be open to work with people who think and behave differently from them. Some leaders enjoy travel. Others enjoy watching how other people solve daily problems. For others still, it may be the prestige of a successful merger & acquisition.

Cognition

What is it: This refers to a leader’s knowledge of the norms, practices, and conventions in different cultures. This is commonly addressed in trainings and in books on objective and subjective culture.

One tip to improve it: Learn the language, read about the culture, read the local news, and understand the socio-economic and political history of a culture. Be aware these are meant to build archetypes for understanding the mindset of a culture and not stereotypes to judge or question other cultural norms.

Metacognition

What is it: This refers to the leader’s cultural consciousness and awareness during intercultural encounters.

One tip to improve it: The culturally intelligent leader plans prior to an engagement. They ask questions about the culture, who they are going to meet, and about different possible cultural scenarios. During an engagement, they evaluate and assess what is familiar and what is not familiar and adjust accordingly. After an engagement, an effective leader will write down their thoughts and debrief from their cross-cultural experience. One of the most important assets to a culturally intelligent leader is having a trusted cultural attaché who is independent and can give a leader unbiased feedback, interpret, and connect some of the cultural dots.

Behavior

What is it: This refers to the leader’s ability to exhibit appropriate verbal and nonverbal actions appropriate for the intercultural interaction. A culturally intelligent leader must know when and be willing to adapt to most situations. They also must know and be able to communicate why they are unwilling to adapt in a given situation.

One tip to improve it: A leader must be aware of their own beliefs and behaviors. If a leader comes from an individualistic, competitive culture and is working in a culture that is more community-oriented and cooperative, they need to adjust how they give praise. Calling out an individual for an accomplishment may not be received well by the individual or the group.

While these may seem like “common sense”, when a leader is out of their cultural element, a leader with low cultural intelligence may become overwhelmed, disoriented, angry, or frustrated. Some leaders may retreat and appear withdrawn, while others may magnify their behaviors and come across as ignorant and insensitive. I’m sure we’ve all seen and maybe been that “Ugly American” at some point. Cultural intelligence helps leaders be more confident and effective in foreign and sometimes uncomfortable situations.

Moving forward in the coming decade

The 2020 Bloomberg Innovation Index selected the top 20 most innovative countries. The U.S. is #9. It is tempting to think that your own experience and common sense has shown you “the right way” to get things done. While that may be true in a familiar environment, it may not be the most effective way to get things done in other contexts (other families, companies, communities, or social systems). Great innovations come from harnessing divergent thinking. While the US emphasizes agile methods and shared leadership, other top innovative countries like Germany emphasize cooperative planning; South Korea culturally emphasizes hierarchical, top-down decision making. Both have outranked the US in innovation for the last five years of this index. None of those cultural approaches are necessarily superior. They are simply different ways innovation occurs in other cultural contexts.

As we look out over the next fifty years, with nearly 77% of the world’s population living in Africa and Asia, these economies will continue to benefit from young workforces, improvements in infrastructure and education, and a growing middle class. If you want to work in these regions, regardless of culture, people generally prefer to do business with people they can trust. Building trust requires both parties to adapt and find agreement on values, respect, and mutual outcomes. Understanding why how to adapt in each situation are hallmarks of a culturally intelligent person.

Peter Diamandis recently noted that if companies ‘are not disruptively innovating now, you are done. The old ways of working are done. We are going to see 20% of companies go out of business’ as a result of the pandemic lockdown. However, innovating successfully also requires that you use the tools of cultural intelligence and political risk analysis to establish your business in the right locations. Disruptive innovation will not pay dividends if you suddenly lose your valuable intellectual property in a country that does not value and support the rule of law.

Your global teams will not be successful or engaged in producing new solutions and innovative products if you cannot break down the communication and collaboration barriers using cultural intelligence. The U.S. represents only 5% of the world’s population. Despite being a wealthy, critical market for any conceivable service or product, it is just a sliver of the available total global market. Companies, stressed by an economic collapse which is unlike anything seen in a generation, must boldly jump into the global market with both feet to thrive. To succeed in this new world, modern leaders need to bring an analytical tool kit which is well-stocked with political risk insights and cultural intelligence methodologies. If business leaders don’t apply these key perspectives in their global strategies, the volatile market forces that continue to churn around us will disrupt even the best of business plans.

______________________________________________________________

Scott Rencher, a former Regional Director and Country Manager at Euromonitor International, is a CQ Certified, Cultural Intelligence evangelist and business strategist.

Kirk Samson, worked as a U.S. diplomat and international law advisor and is the head of Samson Atlantic LLC; a Chicago-based consulting company providing global political risk analysis. 

rural

RURAL EXPORT CENTER SUPPORTS THOSE IN THE AMERICAN BREAD BASKET SEEKING NEW GLOBAL MARKETS

The U.S. Commercial Service in July opened the Rural Export Center (REC) in Fargo, North Dakota, to promote rural America’s exports and equip its companies with the research and resources to compete and win in the global marketplace.

“The Rural Export Center addresses the unique needs of rural American companies by providing in-depth market research and training designed specifically for them,” explained Ian Steff, assistant secretary of Commerce for Global Markets and director general of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service.

“These companies are a crucial part of the continued growth of the American economy,” Steff continued, “and providing them with these essential, customized tools will help bolster their success in both the domestic and international markets and will increase U.S. exports worldwide.”

Companies from anywhere in rural America can request virtual consultations and assistance through the REC and many can apply grants from the Small Business Administration’s State Trade Expansion Program toward REC services. Armed with REC research, the company then collaborates with their local U.S. Commercial Service Trade Specialist to implement plans and strategies informed by REC analysis.

“Together, they leverage the global network of U.S. Commercial Service offices located in U.S. Embassies and Consulates in more than 75 markets around the world,” states a U.S. Commercial Service press release.

shipping process

How to Improve Your Company’s Shipping Process

Having international shipping capabilities has practically become a must for any serious online store. At the very least, you need to have a solid shipping service within your country if your company is going to grow and properly sell your product. So, it stands to reason that having an overall efficient shipping service is something you really ought to invest in. Luckily, we are here to give you a couple of ideas on how to improve your company’s shipping process.

Why is it important to have an efficient shipping process

The shipping process is, in essence, delivering goods from point A to point B. So, why should you spend your time and money on improving this basic service? Well, to put it simply, it is because people have grown to expect efficient shipping. Now, you can opt for outsourcing your shipping, but this is often the more expensive, less efficient way. With a bit of research and investment, you can organize your own e-commerce shipping process, and therefore have the necessary freedom to improve it.

Ways to improve your company’s shipping process

There are literally thousands of different ways to improve your company’s shipping process. Depending on where your shipping services are at now, you can be looking at smaller improvements like boosting your navigation process, to larger ones like implementing a major overhaul of your logistics equipment. So, before you decide on any of these upgrades, we suggest that you take a closer look at your company. More often then not, there is at least one improvement that will give you huge value for your investment. So, plan long and hard before you implement anything.

Streamline shipping orders

A surprising number of shipping issues have nothing to do with bad navigation or poor equipment. Most of them are due to poor internal communication and bad optimization of the beginning of the shipping process. So, if there is one place we suggest you start, it’s at the beginning. Try to pick up on the little details that make the shipping process needlessly long. These details may look insignificant on their own, but once they pile up and combine, they can easily take up a lot of time and energy. Go through the whole process both as a shipping coordinator and a customer. If you don’t have much experience with shipping, you can always hire a professional to go over your process and give you tips on how to improve.

Improve communication

In order to have an efficient shipping service, you need to have a top-notch communication system within your company. This means that your workers need to be able to communicate with each other whenever, wherever. If this is not the case currently, make it so. There are a ton of mobile apps that can make communication easier. Among the ones we can recommend are:

-Slack

-Chanty

-Troop Messenger

-Brosix

Be sure to try out a couple and to read reviews before you opt for one. To make communication more efficient, you can even look into digitalizing your shipping process as much as possible. Recent events with COVID-19 have certainly incentivized shipping companies to adopt digital shipping solutions.

Use tracking technology

One of the ways to both improve your company’s shipping process and keep your customers happy is to utilize tracking technology. Being able to have a live feed of where your shipments are will make the whole process much easier to handle. And, if you can give that info to your customers, you will effectively make them happier. In fact, most customers have grown to expect shipment tracking. This is why, sooner or later, you will probably have to implement it within your shipping process.

Be aware of courier services

When it comes to international shipping, you can rarely afford to work on your own. More often than not, you will have to coordinate with other shipping companies and courier services in order to ship efficiently. So, our advice is to prepare for your international shipments and look for local courier companies in advance. While you may have an easy time finding a shipping company in the U.S., finding one in Europe or Asia can prove to be a time-consuming process. Especially if you have to overcome the language barrier in order to set up a shipping agreement. So, do yourself a favor and prepare the groundwork for different areas before you start shipping internationally.

Prepare for customs clearance

Another way to make international shipping more efficient is to prepare for customs clearance. Keep in mind that your shipments will spend a lot of time at customs, especially if you don’t have the necessary paperwork and you don’t follow the strict guidelines. So, before you ship off your goods, ensure that the person in charge of them has everything necessary for smooth customs clearance.

Keep your customers informed

The final way in which you can better your shipping process is to always keep your customers informed. Issues and hiccups do happen, even with the most efficient shipping companies. So, while you should do all that is possible to improve your company’s shipping process, don’t expect to have a full-proof system. If and when a delay does happen, you shouldn’t shy away from informing your customers. In the long run, this act will ensure that you have better reviews.

_____________________________________________________________

Jonas Myers has worked as a professional shipping coordinator for over 20 years. During that time he helped companies like U. Santini Moving and Storage improve their shipping capabilities and increase their travel efficiency. He now focuses on raising his daughters, woodworking, and on writing helpful articles about shipping.