Small to mid-sized businesses may not feel postponed shipments represent much of a threat to their livelihood. Yet, customers do not see the behind-the-scenes’ details, and to your customers, postponed shipments are an invitation to do business with your competitors. To help avoid postponed shipments in international trade, your organization should take the following steps.
1. Know Your Organization’s Rules, Policies, and Programs.
All of your employees need to understand your organization’s rules, policies, and programs. This includes any self-compliance programs and additional steps to ensure accuracy and accountability in international trade. Your internal policies exist to help maintain compliance with all applicable regulations, and failure to follow your own policies will lead to postponed shipments.
2. Keep Track of Required Documentation.
Creating documentation for international shipments is not enough to prevent postponed shipments. You need to know where this documentation is located, where it will be going, how to access it if it becomes lost, and when to submit such documentation. This may include country of origination certificates, labeling of contents for use in the harmonized tariff schedule, payment receipts, contracts for a given shipment, and more.
3. Submit All Documentation Before the Import Arrives.
Depending on the applicable rules of the destination, you may be required to submit documentation before the import arrives. However, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requires the submission of such paperwork at least 24-hours before arrival. To help make sure this is achieved, always submit documentation electronically before your shipment departs. However, you must consider the length of time of transit. For example, you would need to submit documentation 16-hours before departure if the transit length of time is eight hours.
4. Review the Regulations For Your Destination.
Differing destinations may have extremely different rules and requirements for imports. Make sure your organization has fully reviewed and adhered to all applicable rules for your destination. This will help reduce delays and problems at the port of entry.
5. Pack Shipments to Survive the Mode of Transport.
Avoiding postponed shipments means you need to get the shipment right on the first try. As a result, you need to avoid any potential losses due to improper shipment and packaging. Make sure any fragile merchandise has been thoroughly packaged to withstand the mode of transport. For example, rough roads require additional packaging to ensure the stability of breakables, and you may need to provide additional weather-proofing for items using ocean vessels as a mode of transport.
6. Do Not “Pass the Buck.”
When a using a supply chain solutions provider, it’s easy to “pass the buck” on your responsibilities to the provider. However, your customers will not be looking to the 3PL for accountability; they will be requesting a refund from your organization. You must maintain responsibility and accountability for all of your actions, which includes those of a 3PL. Therefore, you need to be aware of what actions the provider will take to reduce delays and prevent postponed shipments.
A postponed shipment is nothing more than a technical term for not meeting your customers’ wishes due to delays in shipments. When engaging in international trade, you have a duty to ensure you meet your customers’ expectations, if not exceed them by delivering products ahead of schedule. If you do not meet these expectations, your customers’ will turn to your competitors, who can maintain adherence to a delivery schedule.