The biggest challenge in cross-border freight visibility is an obvious one: you don’t know the exact location of your truck. The second biggest challenge? It takes hours of emails, calls, and texts (sometimes with Google translation every step of the way) to deal with the first. Even the smoothest load usually needs a “Hey, can you give me an update?” call to your broker and an endless email chain that clutters your inbox. Multiply that by hundreds of loads, and how do you get eyes on your freight and have time for your other 20 job duties?
Well, you either become an expert in cross-border shipping (and the 7+ parties it can take to get your freight safely from Point A to Point B), or you make sure you’re working with experts.
If the latter sounds better, here’s what to look for:
#1: Work with a specialized carrier network
The big reason you want to track your shipment is to make sure it’s safe and that it gets delivered on time. The best way to fix those root worries is to work with a specialized carrier network.
Cross-border freight is more complicated than domestic freight. You wouldn’t use a big broker to ship your return to Amazon, so why would you rely on a carrier network that isn’t hand-picked for its experience with North American cross-border freight? There are a lot of perks of a cross-border network. They have more flexibility and coverage. They offer competitive prices because they have a substantial routing guide. They can cover uncommon lanes because they’ve done the legwork to accrue smaller carriers.
Specialized carrier networks also have a safety and security edge. Mexico’s infrastructure and safety have improved, but there are still instances of cargo theft. Carriers who haul more dangerous lanes know crime patterns, how to avoid the most dangerous routes, and what the warning signs are before an attack. This experience helps trucks stay safe, so you still have freight to track.
#2: Make sure your service provider has relevant cross-border experience (and skills)
Your operations team is another big part of your freight’s visibility and communication plan. An experienced operations team is command central for those 7+ cross-border parties. They know when to check in with a carrier, how to partner with the customs broker, what to do if there’s a security issue on the lane, etc. You’ll stay informed and can rest assured they’re pre-empting problems to keep your freight safe and on schedule.
Besides experience, it’s also good to check if your team has the specific linguistic and cultural skills relevant to your freight’s country of origin and country of delivery. Multilingual teams bridge communication gaps. They make sure important information doesn’t get lost in interpretation or translation. They make sure every party knows what’s going on with the freight so there are no surprises. They’re also more likely to understand cultural nuances in business norms and communication. That can make a big difference in the frequency and quality of your freight updates.
#3: Don’t settle for less than 24/7 freight tracking
An obvious problem deserves a clear solution. You shouldn’t have to ask your provider for updates all day. Updates should be available to you when you’re expecting them and in the format you’re expecting them. That’s why Forager offers 24/7 tracking on both sides of the border. SCOUT by Forager is the only self-service shipping portal to price, book, and track North American cross-border freight. 24/7 tracking via SCOUT by Forager means a few things. First, you can log in at any time to track your load progress. Second, you’re in full control of shipment visibility. You no longer need to rely on brokers and endless back and forth communications for updates. Finally, anyone else in your business can also check in on the freight. That means fewer calls up or down the flagpole, and an almost unfathomable number of hours freed up for other tasks.
The best part? This shouldn’t be expensive
Don’t let a broker tell you otherwise. Smart tech and experienced teams can be affordable. It’s a matter of choosing a service provider and adopting tech platforms that are as robust as your domestic ones. And if you’re racking your brain for any company that meets (or exceeds) that expectation, you should speak with one of our cross-border solutions experts.