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cross border trade

Cross Border All Modes Challenges & Tips to Navigate

Nathan McGuire
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January 21, 2022
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Cross Border All Modes Challenges & Tips to Navigate
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All across the U.S., from the east coast to the west coast, major ports are clogged with containers and ships waiting to be loaded and unloaded. Many of these ports see capacities up to 50 percent higher than usual for cross-border trade levels. But as pointed out in a report by CNBC, “merely unloading more cargo at the ports will do little to solve the problems plaguing the U.S. supply chain once goods travel further inland. The United States is currently in the midst of a trucking crisis, with a shortage of long-haul truck drivers so severe that some companies are looking for truckers abroad.” 

The steel containers are stacked like blocks as they pile up faster and faster, the rate of shops coming in to drop off loads far exceeds the rate trucks and rails can carry containers farther inland. At a major port at the mouth of the Savannah River, more than 700 containers have sat for a month or longer, waiting for their owners to collect the cargo and move their products along the supply chain lines. Ports everywhere also see piles of containers sit unclaimed and unloaded while their contents linger and delay deliveries across the country. Cargo owners are not coming to get their freight. The lack of movement beyond the ports leads to massive delays with shipping—so much so that shippers must now implement cross-border omnimodal options to deal with this freight shipping bottleneck.

Challenge: Managing the Process of Customs Clearance for a Different Mode

These delays and bottlenecks make it challenging to get products to the stores and shelves and make deliveries to customer doorsteps all the more complicated. Customs clearance for ocean containers and ships continues as it always has. The delay comes when using other modes to move that cargo farther inland. Rail transport has different requirements than trucking and specialty modes like reefer or hazardous loads. Keeping track of cross-border trade is a profound challenge for shippers.

Solution: Digitize the Full Customs Process With an Expert International Omnimodal Transport

The most efficient way to deal with multiple shipping modes and all the legal requirements and compliance issues that come with it are to find partners who specialize in omnimodal transportation. They understand the process, what to look out for, and avoid common pitfalls and issues. They can help streamline the process to make it more viable.

Challenge: Tracking Partial Truckload and LTL Shipments Across Borders

When dealing with cross-border trade and transportation, knowing where orders, or even entire trucks and rail cars and containers, are at any given moment is a huge challenge as well. The ability to track truckloads and LTL shipments as they travel across borders and along various lanes is essential yet complex under even the best of circumstances. Just as every mode has customs regulations, every border crossing can also have unique issues that shippers must address effectively to prevent delays with retail logistics and distribution.

Solution: Work With a Provider That's Hyper-Focused on Visibility at All Times.

It can be difficult for retailers of any size to secure cargo containers to transport goods to the United States from overseas. Finding a provider who prioritizes visibility with tracking and communication is paramount as it allows for better monitoring any time anywhere. Real-time tracking and on-demand status reports help maintain good visibility. 

Challenge: There Are Only So Many Ports of Entry for Ocean Transport

Shippers no longer can view cross-border omnimodal options as an accessory service or feature. Ocean transport is reaching max capacity at ports around the country and the world. As highlighted in a recent New York Times article, if there’s no space out on the docks and in the holding areas and port warehouses, it doesn’t matter if 50 berths are waiting for ships.  Containers are piling up higher and higher, and every new cargo load only compounds the problem and causes ports to shut down and come to a standstill. 

Solution: Rail Can Help, Provided Shippers Can Find an Alternate Drayage Provider to Get to Rail for Cross-Border Trade

Broadening options for container unloading and cargo distribution from ports to nearby warehouses and distribution centers is critical right now. Opening up other modes, such a rail, can help alleviate that bottleneck and move more products faster. However, it takes good coordination and collaboration to cover drayage services in this manner.

Challenge: Cross Border Also Comes With Higher Insurance Costs

Cross-border trade often comes with added expenses from unexpected sources, such as insurance costs. Shippers can send very expensive products overseas in cargo containers, everything from electronics to luxury cars. Buying insurance protection for such varied and often valuable loads can add to the expenses of supply chain optimization. This is especially true because insurance is needed to cover the value of lost or damaged goods and late delivery when guarantees are in place for certain loads and shipments.

Solution: Work With an Expert in Cargo Insurance Coverage Options

The best way to deal with insurance concerns regarding ocean transport and cross-border omnimodal shipments is to find specialized insurance providers. Working with shippers and carriers specializing in a particular type of cargo can help streamline the process. Likewise, finding a provider familiar with cargo insurance needs can help lower costs.

Challenge: Packaging May Need to Be Changed and Customized

There is much more involved with the packaging used on products than a box or wrapping that helps protect it during shipment. For cross-border trade and transport, issues with bulky packaging taking up valuable capacity have long been an issue for shippers. In much the same way, poor packaging can cause damage to or even loss of products or entire loads if they are not appropriate for the shipping mode being used or the transport journey duration. Using innovative and digital freight tools can make everything more manageable.

Solution: Plan Packaging for Whatever and Wherever Routes May Change and Their Impact on the Temperature of Goods, Canada Versus Mexico

A whole new set of criteria needs to be addressed for cross-border transportation when considering packaging options. It is coming to a point where a major overhaul of standard packing options needs consideration to adapt to route and shipping changes. Cross border and overseas, international cargo packing no longer is as straightforward as it once was.

Challenge: Managing Payments in Other Currencies Is Complex and Involved

Invoice and payment tracking and bookkeeping can present a big enough challenge in the best of situations. Add into it dealing with multiple currencies, time zones, and shipping timelines, and it can quickly become a confusing and chaotic mess. Currency conversions, changing exchange rates, payment deadlines, and delayed communications make securing payments for cross-border trade items a unique obstacle. Omnimodal and cross-border transport can help shippers and carriers manage freight market volatility more effectively. 

Solution: Ensure Your Systems Can Update to Local Currencies and Translate Documents on the Go

Embracing modern technological advances and services will relieve some of the stress and hassle of document translation and currency conversion.  Sending invoices in local languages and currencies reduces chances for errors and delays in payment. It also helps to improve budgeting accuracy and assists with fee management and monitoring too.

Create More Successful Cross-Border Trade by Partnering With Wicker Park Logistics

One of the biggest challenges the modern supply chain is facing today regarding cross-border omnimodal shipping is the congestion of major ports on both coasts. Yard and port managers are running out of places to put cargo containers, and this is a recurring issue seen at many of the largest ports in the United States. As these major hubs within the supply chain contend with unprecedented backlogs and pileups of cargo, what once seemed like a temporary issue that might work itself out naturally, is now looking like a significant threat to the supply chain’s current shipping infrastructure. Addressing these issues and concerns requires a new approach and perspective to cross-border trade and transportation.

Make sure you are prepared for whatever the peak season has in store and for all the challenges that lie ahead in 2022 and beyond. Cross-border and omnimodal transportation will remain a key focus for supply chain operations and management. Prepare and plan ahead for more successful cross-border omnimodal transportation with the right partnership. Contact Wicker Park Logistics today to get started and to find even more tips for navigating cross-border trade and shipping issues within the modern supply chain.

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