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International E-Commerce: 5 Ways Software Can Help SMEs Extend Their Global Reach

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While commerce moves the world, software is what ensures a free and smooth flow of goods. Without the right software in place, small- and medium-sized enterprises or SMEs cannot effectively ship their goods to their consumers.

International e-commerce heavily relies on technology to charter goods and products from their country of origin to their destination. Without online shipping platforms, SMEs would not have access to more timely and accurate freight forwarding services.

Online freight helps SMEs streamline the shipping process.

The establishment of online freight forwarding makes trading on the world stage more accessible. This gives SMEs all the tools they need to manage international logistics, from instant online freight quotes to all the necessary documentation.

This allows SMEs to maintain economies of scale while eliminating the complexities of logistics onboarding and customs compliance.

Instead of relying on the traditional paperwork-heavy approach, read on to learn how shipping software can help SMEs manage freight with confidence and ease of use.

1. It augments the shipping process

Advancements in shipping software have made it easier for SMEs to enter new trade markets and compete with global businesses. Shipping software democratizes information. Through the use of software, SMEs are able to easily navigate the lengthy and complex onboarding process associated with international shipping.

The online solutions provided today have the ability to automate the entire freight forwarding process. From customs integration to fulfillment services, online shipping software is able to coordinate the complexities of international freight transport.

This allows SMEs to focus their resources on where it matters most, pursuing international business growth.

2. It reduces shipping rates

When it comes to shipping products to foreign markets, many SMEs are preoccupied with costs — and rightly so. Year after year, the cost of shipping increases. Adjusting for these rates can be a significant headache for many SMEs looking to expand their market share.

Growing demand for e-commerce and the increasing cost of shipping makes it more challenging for SMEs to replicate the free shipping offers of giant B2B and B2C companies like Amazon.

Online shipping platforms combat the increasing costs of shipping by enabling SMEs to find shipping options quickly with real-time shipping rates. The integration of popular carriers allows SMEs to determine which carriers are best for their shipping needs.

Carrier integration also allows for automatic calculation of shipments based on shipping specifications like package dimensions, weight, and destination. Many shipping platforms also have extensive logistics networks to access previously unreachable markets.

Using online freight quotes, SMEs can determine which carriers provide steep discounts or negotiated rates to make informed decisions based on budget and shipping requirements.

3. It introduces compliance automation

Shipping restrictions vary from country to country. And with international customs requiring additional forms to ship goods abroad, SMEs can quickly find themselves in paperwork purgatory.

What’s more, if compliance and regulation standards are not properly met, shipments can come across border crossing issues, significantly delaying the arrival of goods and products.

SMEs can avoid this frustrating aspect of international shipping by partnering with a full-serving online shipping platform. Their software makes customs documentation easy to fill out, dramatically simplifying the process.

Online shipping solutions automate and streamline country-specific regulations, allowing SMEs to achieve international shipping compliance with every shipment. Once the data has been entered, international custom forms can be automatically generated for future shipments.

4. It improves data consolidation

International shipping requires many complex details to go right to ensure a successful shipment. This includes the involvement of multiple carriers, numerous levels of logistics services, and a streamlined supply chain.

All of these steps require careful management of data and paperwork.

Software automates these processes, consolidating shipping data and export information so SMEs don’t have to configure orders every time they ship. Data consolidation eliminates redundant data entry and can act as an employee onboarding tool for newcomers.

Acting as a database, certain shipping software can also be integrated into legacy systems. The increased capability of importing spreadsheets allows SMes to maintain reporting on one platform. This provides SMEs detailed, accurate reporting of shipment summaries, shipment costs, and spend history.

Shipping software can also serve as a branding and notification tool. Being able to seamlessly transfer order information ensures that the seller’s shipping labels are accurately printed. This cuts down on having to manually create labels, reducing human error and inefficient work.

As a notification tool, software can effectively manage and track orders, allowing SMEs to better track when their shipments will arrive at their destination. This improves the customer experience, allowing SMEs to continue meeting customer expectations.

5. It mitigates risks

Taking a step towards foreign markets can introduce SMEs to new risks. Risks like trade disputes, labor unrest, or weather and geographic hazards can severely disrupt an SME’s supply chain and cause cargo delays which can impact the business’s bottom line.

Software provides technological solutions that mitigate these risks. Artificial Intelligence or AI is being implemented in new models and data sources to better forecast weather conditions and predict severe weather that may ground international shipments.

SMEs can use this knowledge to diversify their cargo. Knowing when severe weather events will occur provides SMEs and their freight forwarder the flexibility to switch transportation modes, from ocean to air, and vice versa, to avoid costly delays.

The adoption of new software also enables shippers to increase digital security throughout their supply chain components. Cognitive supply chains that use IoT (Internet of Things) and Blockchain are better equipped to address the threat of cyber disruptions and ransomware attacks.

Many freight forwarders today are also employing big data to better assess geographic hazards and divert shipping routes to the most cost-effective path possible. Big data is also used alongside modern navigation techniques and GPS information to enable accurate, real-time freight monitoring.

By securely managing data and information, freight forwarders can reduce costs and the risk of human error. Through the use of software, freight forwarders can streamline transport operations and resolve almost all of the issues and risks associated with the shipment delivery process.

Conclusion

To increase the pace of industrial growth, the shipping and freight industry have turned to software and their associated technology. The exponential growth in market demand has seen many SMEs turn to international shipping as a way to extend their global reach.

Technological innovations in shipping enable freight forwarders to address the driving growth in trade among nations. As freight forwarders continue to use software to improve the efficiency of their operations, SMEs can continue to remain competitive as they venture into new domains.

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