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4 ways to optimize international logistics

The sun rises over a busy international shipping port.

Charting a course for global expansion can be a challenge, but the rewards have never been greater. Emerging market and developing economies are increasingly robust. And as Business Roundtable points out, with 95 percent of the world’s population—not to mention 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power—located outside the U.S., there are plenty of opportunities for growth. But crossing borders isn’t always smooth sailing.

How can you optimize your global business strategy?

UPS knows how challenging it can be for companies to enter new markets, but with the help of our international logistics experts, you can find the solutions that may help your business thrive. Here are four strategies that small and mid-sized businesses can employ to help streamline their operations when growing globally:

1. Documentation and customs

Preparing the correct documentation for international shipments can be complicated, since different government agencies have unique criteria that need to be met. Certificates of origin may be required, depending on which country you are exporting to, and accurate descriptions, values and quantities must also be recorded. Since incorrect information can lead to serious ramifications, including penalties and shipment delays, you’ll want to make sure all of your documentation is clear, accurate and precise.

UPS customs brokerage services can help your business navigate the paperwork around the customs clearance process, while UPS Paperless™ Invoice may help to make the labor-intensive process of documentation more efficient. It allows you to integrate order and shipment processing and transmit commercial invoice data electronically to customs offices through your UPS shipping system.

Businesses can also utilize the services of STTAS, a UPS team of global trade professionals. STTAS can assist you with the classification process, identify which agencies will be reviewing your documentation, help with import and export admissibility requirements, and potentially streamline your entire international trade process.

2. In-country warehousing

Within a global supply chain, in-country warehouses function as supply hubs. But with different rules and regulations in each country, as well as language barriers and cultural differences to contend with, third-party infrastructure for local warehousing and distribution can be invaluable. These solutions may help you cut shipping costs and facilitate a more positive customer experience for your international customers with less ramp up.

UPS has a global network of warehouse facilities ideal for businesses to quickly scale their global operations while reducing the complexity and capital investment of purchasing their own warehouse space. Plus, the added value of a provider with experience on the ground in the local country can help businesses hit the ground running with their international expansion goals.

3. Visibility

According to Deloitte Global CPO Study 2018, only 6 percent of procurement leaders felt that they had full visibility into their supply chain. A further 65 percent felt that they had limited or no visibility beyond their tier 1 suppliers. From outdated processes and inaccurate data to reliance on multiple carriers, poor visibility can stem from numerous factors. And with consequences ranging from shipping delays to disruptions in your global supply chain, it can be one of the key inhibitors of your international expansion goals.

In fact, a report from the Business Continuity Institute found that as many as 56 percent of organizations had suffered a supply chain disruption in the past year. Building a more transparent supply chain could be the bedrock of your global business strategy. UPS’s Quantum View® and Flex® Global View tools provide visibility into cross-border shipments, giving you transparency around entry, delivery, tracking and billing details.

4. Trade Advice

As your business begins to enter more and more territories, complexities around international trade regulations will begin to grow. According to Logistics Management, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), Brexit, and new U.S. tariffs (U.S.C. Section 201, 232, 301) will provide the biggest challenges to trade through 2019. In addition, it’s important to know and understand the most current information on international sanctions and export controls. The financial impact of violations can be severe, with violations from one Texas company resulting in a penalty of $100 million levied by the U.S. government.

UPS can provide trade consulting in specific countries, helping your global business to stay informed of trade changes and potentially retain a competitive advantage when entering into new markets. In addition, UPS TradeAbility® service can help you stay up-to-date with international trade information, allowing you to access country-specific tariff codes and potentially reduce the risk of import delays and fines.

Get expert support to help you grow internationally

From incorrect documentation and poor visibility to failure to understand trade regulations, roadblocks on the way to international expansion can be a challenge. But partnering with an experienced logistics provider and trade management leader like UPS can help you avoid delays and start turning your local business into an international player. Find out more about how UPS can help you operate in the global marketplace.

Sources are for informational purposes only and not an indication of endorsement.

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