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Mastering Cross-Border Freight: A Guide to Streamlined Solutions

Nathan McGuire
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May 18, 2023
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Mastering Cross-Border Freight: A Guide to Streamlined Solutions
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Cross-border logistics is one of the most complex and strategically important modes of transportation in North America. These vast supply chains are responsible for providing consumers access to their favorite products, manufacturers with choice ingredients, and factories with on-time deliveries of essential materials. Most consumers don’t stop and think about the massive amount of labor, time, energy, and paperwork that is required to deliver fresh avocados from Michoacán, Mexico to their favorite supermarket. Or, more simply, that the vast majority of fresh produce is grown in the agricultural regions of Mexico: green peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, mango, chili peppers, strawberries, grapes, and watermelon, to name just a few, are some of the many commodities that are shipped cross-border everyday through major border-crossing cities like Laredo, McAllen, Nogales, and Yuma. Virtually everything that North American consumers use on an everyday basis is manufactured cross-border. Cars, plastics, paper, steel, cement, timber, chemicals, furniture, alcohol, and food and beverage, are just a few industries that have complex cross-border supply chains. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the 2022 North American Transborder Freight market between the United States, Canada, and Mexico eclipsed $130 billion, representing a nearly 20% increase from 2021. This data demonstrates just how integral transborder trade is in connecting North American shippers to North American consumers.

Yet, cross-border shipping is not exempt from some of the common problems that domestic shippers face when moving freight. Visibility, capacity sourcing, and seasonal swings in market forces create major bottlenecks when shipping cross-border. That is why shippers large and small look to partner with transportation service providers that specialize in cross-border supply chain solutions. Whether your company is shipping spot loads each month, or a steady volume of shipments each day, it’s important to partner with a company that offers value-added service options to help connect your cross-border supply chains. This article provides a guide for shippers to help navigate the North American cross-border freight market, providing suggestions on how to streamline your operations, and gain real-time visibility over your supply chains.

How to Choose the Right Cross-Border Freight Provider

Finding a dependable service provider that also specializes in cross-border freight can be somewhat challenging for North American shippers. Each shipper has their own unique operational requirements that must be met to facilitate their cross-border supply chains. There are a lot of factors to consider when shipping cross-border: Can the load be transloaded, or does it need to ship door-to-door? Does your company have a custom broker already established, or does one need to be provided? In Mexico, do you want the 3PL to handle the crossing? Does your provider have cargo insurance in Mexico and Canada, or just the U.S.? Does your provider have team service or only solo drivers? What sort of equipment options are available? Has your provider developed a sufficient carrier density to handle an increased volume of shipments coming from Mexico? And crucially, does your provider offer real-time visibility in Mexico and Canada?

When it comes to choosing the best transportation provider for your cross-border freight, shipping managers look for companies that offer a range of services to fulfill customer orders such as:

  • Transloading and Door-to-Door Service
  • Intermodal
  • Warehouse and Distribution
  • Supply Chain Optimization
  • FTL and LTL Service
  • Dry Van, Reefer, and Flatbed Equipment Options
  • Expedited Shipping
  • On-Demand Capacity
  • Routing Guides
  • 24/7 Customer Service

Carefully Vetted Carriers

Experienced cross-border freight providers have developed extensive carrier networks to facilitate international trade into Mexico and Canada. This is easier said than done. Mexico, for example, does not yet have a centralized carrier safety platform like Carrier411. Therefore, cross-border providers have their own vetting process to ensure their carriers have qualified drivers and equipment. Mexican carriers with permission to enter into the United States are required to have USDOT numbers, an FMCSA-assigned MX number, and a valid FMCSA Certificate of Registration. 

On-Demand Capacity and Insurance Protection

Whether you are working the spot market or have Wicker Park Logistics provides customers with dedicated capacity for all domestic and cross-border freight shipments, ensuring that the best trucks are assigned to your time-sensitive loads year-round. Once a customer partners with Wicker Park Logistics, they get access to their extensive network of CTPAT certified carriers that are ready to run to haul your cross-border freight. Wicker Park Logistics also offers a standard $100,000 cargo insurance on all shipments hauled throughout North America, providing shippers with the peace of mind that their merchandise will be secured in the event of damage, spoilage, or theft.

Technology-Driven Solutions

Shipping managers that have cross-border operations are turning to transportation providers that can help streamline their operations and provide practical solutions to help address some of the common problems that the industry faces with transnational shipping. Shippers who partner with Wicker Park Logistics get access to a fully-customizable API-connected TMS. With an easy-to-use digital portal, shipping managers get total visibility over their supply chain. All of the required paperwork, including BOLs, customs forms, driver and insurance information, broker documents, delivery instructions, and load notifications, are all centralized into a single platform. This centralizes all data, and gives shippers an organization tool that is searchable for all live loads and previous shipments.

Enterprise Integration

Regardless of the size of your cross-border operations, most shippers in the logistics industry still rely on rather traditional forms of data collection. Companies often have whole teams of operations representatives who are responsible for manually entering tracking updates, carrier information, and load details into internal databases that are nothing more than spreadsheets. Oftentimes, information is siloed into the computers, emails, or cell phones of individual reps. This approach makes it harder for shippers to locate, share, and analyze their trade data, and prevents them from learning about the strengths and weaknesses of their supply chain. By partnering with a company like Wicker Park Logistics, cross-border shippers can automate certain tasks, allowing shippers to reposition workers away from time-consuming tasks like manual  data entry, and into positions where they can improve customer success or expand the company’s customer base. The team of data analysts and logistics experts at Wicker Park Logistics uses their cutting-edge technology to allow shippers to run customized reports that can help lower their transportation costs and improve route optimization for their cross-border supply chains.

Real-time visibility

One of the biggest problems facing North American shippers who have cross-border freight  involves visibility, or the lack thereof. Once a load crosses the United States into Canada or Mexico, most brokers rely on manual check calls to find out where the truck is located and whether they are on track to make on-time delivery. This method, however, provides limited oversight over the status of a load, and can create headaches when a carrier goes dark and doesn’t answer emails or phone calls about their location. Shippers with cross-border freight expect real-time visibility over the supply chain to make sure that their products are delivered on-time and in full. With the tools provided on their digital platform, Wicker Park Logistics provides real-time visibility on all cross-border loads in and out of Mexico and Canada using innovative tracking software and technology that provides live updates on all load notifications which are automatically updated, providing the assurances that shipping managers want with their cross-border supply chains.

Streamline Your Cross-Border Freight With Wicker Park Logistics

One of the major reasons why North American shippers turn to Wicker Park Logistics to manage their cross-border freight into Mexico and Canada is due to their decades of experience in handling a full range of multi-modal service options to fulfill customer orders. Whether it’s FTL dry van, reefer, or flatbed freight, LTL, expedited, or intermodal freight with Mexican railroad companies, Wicker Park Logistics offers customers full service capabilities to handle the most complex supply chains and provide them with the technology to help them gain total visibility over their supply chains. With their team of dedicated experts (that are fluent en español),Wicker Park Logistics helps North American shippers streamline their supply chains and make shipping cross-border easy. Don’t wait for your next service failure to call us! Contact Wicker Park Logistics today!

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