How Well Are You Positioned for Cross-Border Business?

- As the world gradually gets back in gear, some of the lessons learned during the pandemic could very well prove strategic for companies that do a steady rate of cross-border business.  

One of those lessons highlights how not to get sidelined by future overseas complications – particularly via shipping. Now more than ever, companies involved in cross-border business will want to future-proof their efforts by paying close attention to a number of strategies.  

One way to insure you are well-positioned to avoid the pain of moving goods across borders in the event of disruptions is to simply be closer to said border(s). If and when possible, build warehouses near borders. Shipments can be made more frequently and all processes throughout the supply chain can be sped up by decreasing the distance that drivers have to travel to reach their destination. This strategy also assures fewer snags or processes – like route planning and related adjustments – that can easily occur due to fairly typical delays and the like.

And it probably won’t take long for word to get out that your strategic position is creating a level of efficiency, speed and even a lack of red tape attractive to all comers – likely resulting in your company being chosen more often than others for contracts and general purchases of products.

Up to Standard

Another seemingly obvious strategy is to really dial in to your audience’s interests. How well do you truly know your international customers – and perhaps more importantly, how well do they know you? Perhaps your prices are lower, but what about the quality of your products and/or services? Also, are you solving problems for your customer base or just putting products into the market and hoping for the best?

That said, products and services unique to a certain country or region can draw customers toward a brand. Understanding this and promoting these items to your international audience can boost cross-border sales significantly.

And frankly, it’s 2021: what does your brand say about your business, your products, your services, your capabilities? Is your website, your marketing, even your social media, up to modern standards? Or does it tell the story of a company struggling to adapt in modern times, or even out of touch with the modern marketplace?

As for those prices, which can often be a tricky space when dealing with duty fees, taxes and additional cross-border costs, you’ll ultimately want to be sure that your prices aren’t so low that they run you out of business, but aren’t so high that you’ll dissuade the very customers you’re trying to attract.

Productive Steps

While the above strategies will get eyeballs on your business, and hopefully create more productive pathways, they don’t mean much if your logistics strategies aren’t up to standard.

What type of transportation management system (TMS) are you utilizing? Does your TMS provide real-time information about all aspects of transportation and assist with such logistical considerations as optimization of routes and cost management?

If not, it’s time to look into a TMS that makes sense for your operations and your budget. Aside from an assortment of benefits, a quality TMS will truly elevate your company via the gathering, organizing, and transmitting of pre-shipment data – known as the e-Manifest, which comprises a simple document containing data (origin information, weight, product description, quantity, vessel information, and more) about the shipment you are sending. Customs officials use this information to screen freight before it makes its way to the border.
Added to strategies like well-positioned warehousing, deep-dive audience recognition and brand elevation, a well-considered TMS is an undeniable productive step for any international company looking to enhance the quality, and quantity, of its cross-border success.   

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