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Top 3 International Shipping Challenges

Reoccurring issues that fashion retailers and manufactures encounter with international shipping range from early cut-off times to non-guaranteed transit time and poor customer service. These do not only cause supply chain interruption but also dissatisfy end-consumers and stagnate sales growth.

Therefore, logistics companies should smoothen the international shipping process, ensuring retailers can receive their products from manufacturers in a fast, efficient and trackable way. Here are three key challenges that retailers and manufacturers are facing, along with available solutions to resolve them:

Early Cut-Off Times

A massive challenge for international shipping is early cut-off times. Manufacturers generally have to send samples to retailers within the shortest possible time to get retailers’ approval. Early cut-off times put a strain on the pre-production process as it results in less time for preparation and increases the risk of errors.

Cut-off times are crucial for international shipping. The cut-off times for most retail companies are usually between 5 to 7pm. They have to get their shipments ready and inform courier companies at or before the cut-off times, so that their package can be delivered at the same day. If the shipper places their order after that time, their package will be picked-up the following working day instead of the same day. Therefore, the earlier the cut-off times, the less time and flexibility manufacturers have to produce their samples.

On the contrary, the later the cut-off times, the more time manufacturers have to prepare goods and get them delivered overnight. Overnight deliveries have the following benefits:

  • Maximising efficiency for businesses
  • Maintaining supply chain and ensuring business activities run smoothly
  • Minimising the chance of overloading goods in the warehouse
  • Following up the market trends by fastening the pre-production process

Non-Guaranteed Transit Time

Another challenge for international shipping is non-guaranteed transit time. Transit time varies, depending on where the products are being shipped from and to. However, other reasons for non-guaranteed transit time are as follows:

  • Port delays
  • Customs clearance delays
  • Airways traffic jam
  • Human errors
  • Technology issues
  • Weather conditions
  • Ship malfunction

Therefore, courier companies have to be prepared ahead of time, planning for the best and the worst. As the shipment transit time can be delayed under unusual circumstances, providers should be aware of the situation, be responsive and execute backup plans to minimize supply chain disruptions.

For example, if the transit time is delayed for 2 hours due to customs clearance problems, logistics service providers have to contact the Customs Authority immediately to see why items are stuck in the transit place and then implement remedial policies or arrange an alternative way for delivery.

Poor Customer Service

Poor customer service is another factor that retailers and manufacturers experience in international shipping. Customer service, a direct one-on-one interaction between retailers and representatives of the logistics company, is a prominent factor for business shipments.

A logistics company with good customer service increases retailers’ confidence, trust, and satisfaction, as 76% of consumers stated that customer service reflects how much a company values them. To a further extent, retailers build positive perceptions and associations with the logistics company.

What do customers value most from customer service teams?

  1. Professionalism: The representatives of the logistics company are professional as they fully understand clients’ situations and provide them solutions quickly. Furthermore, they are knowledgeable on the client’s shipment details such as
    the delivery time, shipment content and weight, sender’s and recipient’s address, transit location, customs procedures, etc.
  2. Attitude: The representatives of the logistics company treat clients with respect and courtesy. They perceive clients’ needs and expectations, and always hold a ‘can-do attitude’ to assist them for delivery services.
  • Responsiveness: The representatives of the logistics company answer questions quickly and resolve problems in a timely and effective manner.
  • Empathy: The representatives of the logistics company express empathy in customer support. They listen to client’s requests carefully, stay positive and are patient.

Click here to view other important qualities of customer service.

To sum up, when it comes to international shipping, retailers and manufacturers might encounter problems such as early cut-off times, non-guaranteed transit times, and poor customer service. High quality courier companies thoroughly understand their customers and have policies in place on how to overcome these issues.

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