Shippers are experts in how to get more out of less. More productivity from a leaner team, more miles for a cheaper price, more personalized service from a big 3PL.
The one thing it’s hard to find more of? Time.
The pressure to keep your margins healthy and your work-rate high never seems to let up, but there are only so many hours in the day (and cross-border shipping takes up a lot of them). So how do you continue to streamline your operations and find more hours for revenue-generating priorities?
Here are three tips to get back some time in your day and increase your cross-border confidence.
#1: Get instant quotes through a self-service shipping portal…or build in time for delays.
Traditionally, getting a quote on a cross-border load requires a lot of phone calls, emails, and even texts. It can take hours, or even days if it’s the weekend. Standard providers don’t have the same knowledge as a cross-border expert. It’s likely they don’t even have an estimate for how much your lane costs. You’re going to be left waiting while the provider calls their carriers to shop around for the best price.
Luckily, logistics has seen a lot of self-service tech advancements in the past few years. Self-service quote and booking portals give you instant, 24/7 access to the freight management information you need. Most of these portals are only available for domestic shipping, but that’s changing.
You can now get instant cross-border pricing, too (Forager is currently the only cross-border logistics company that provides both instant spot and contract rates). Our portal, SCOUT by Forager, is fed by the latest market data and offers customization like direct trailer or transloading shipping. You can not only get prices on your lanes, but see how changing variables influence your freight spend.
#2: Prioritize providers with cross-border expertise.
Cross-border shipping is a lot more complex than domestic. It includes multiple parties, languages, and touch points. Providers without first-hand expertise can cause delays and make costly mistakes. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where your freight is behind schedule and you’ve spent hours navigating customs, transloading, and international law. That’s time you didn’t have in the first place, and exactly why you hired someone else.
A few key questions to ask when you’re looking for providers
- What’s your experience shipping cross-border?
- What languages does your team speak?
- Does your team understand the business culture of my destination country?
- Do you have vetted customs brokers you could recommend?
- Do you have a specialized carrier network?
- Who will be the single point of contact on my freight?
If your provider can’t clearly distinguish its cross-border logistics approach from its domestic one, don’t work with them. Doing your due diligence up front will save you a lot of time and headaches.
#3: Get 24/7 tracking, or set clear communication expectations
Your freight is valuable and even with the best providers, problems crop up. Visibility is key. Unfortunately, cross-border freight tracking still lags domestic shipments. You either need to accept over-communication with your provider or take advantage of new tech solutions.
If you use a 3PL, set clear communication expectations from the beginning. Whether you need updates every 3 hours or every 30 minutes, it’s your freight and your decision. Multiple texts, calls, and emails are time consuming, but the alternative is a freight “black hole”. Better to spend 2 hours on check-ins than lose 6 hours, money, and customer confidence when you realize your freight’s stuck outside Laredo.
An alternative is 24/7 tracking through a shipping portal like SCOUT by Forager (the same self-service shipping portal where you got your quotes). You can login at any time, from anywhere, to check their freight’s progress. The Forager operations team backs every load, but you won’t need to spend time emailing, calling, or texting for updates. Even if you have a “where’s my freight” nightmare at 1 a.m., you can get eyes on your freight.
Purpose-built tech means time saved in cross-border shipping
It all boils down to planning or real tech solutions. Traditional cross-border shipping providers get the job done, but they require a trade off in time, money, visibility, or confidence. Alternatively, you can take advantage of the tech shipping solutions already available in domestic, now tailored for cross-border. It isn’t as much a question of if, but when. And if you need more time now, our cross-border solutions experts can help you get it.