Most people know that we live in a global economy. The global supply chain is critical for many businesses to keep running. This has been made even more apparent over the years, as international logistics has even been in the news (like in 2021 when a container ship got stuck in the Suez Canal, impacting companies around the world). If your company is looking to expand internationally or take parts of your supply chain overseas, you must understand how international logistics works. This will allow you to be prepared to navigate the global world we are living in, and know exactly how to find partners for your business that can help you take advantage of all the global supply chain has to offer. Here is what you need to know about international logistics, and what it can mean for your eCommerce business.
International logistics involves the transportation of products through the international supply chain, including cross-border shipping and international distribution. The goal of international logistics is to efficiently deliver goods to consumers around the world.
When you are working with an international supply chain for your eCommerce business, there is an additional level of challenge and complexity to having your supply chain run smoothly. International logistics is not just transportation. Here are some examples of what international logistics can include for businesses like yours.
Handling of Goods
Customs and Import or Export Documentation
Logistics includes a lot of parts, but they can be categorized into five major elements. These are planning, packaging, inventory management, transportation, and data. Take a look below to learn more about what each of these elements entails and what makes up international logistics.
Logistics planning can involve storage, warehousing, and materials handling. Having a good plan can make the entire supply chain process run much more smoothly. It can also help you be better prepared for when there are challenges, fluctuations, or disruptions to your supply chain. It can include ensuring inventory is stored correctly, like temperature or climate-controlled storage. Also, this includes the physical location of the warehouses being convenient to customers for speedy shipping. The planning stage of logistics management is where a lot of the communication and organization come in. This is to make sure every partner in the process is on the same page and the coordinated efforts will pay off for your business in the long run.
Handling the inventory well and making sure they are safe and secure through transportation is a key to logistics management. This includes whether they are local or international. Items can be stored individually or as units with other like items (and dissimilar items on occasion). This can include the size, shape, and material of the box or envelope the items are shipped to customers. Also, it can include the size, shape, and material of boxes, pallets, and bins used during storage. However, packaging in logistics management can also include the color, design, and branding of all of those elements. All of it reflects on your company, so ensuring a good first impression from your packaging is key for a good customer experience. High customers experience also consists of secure packaging for safe transport of the items.
Inventory management is critical to a successful business. It is related to storage and warehousing, as that is typically where inventory management and inventory cycle counts happen. Inventory management includes how many items of each SKU you have in stock, but also is related to how many and where to store each of those items. If you have a certain item that is a big seller in one part of the country but not others, then keeping that inventory in a warehouse in that area makes the most sense. Inventory management helps you to know where the best place to store items is and helps you keep track of your inventory so nothing gets misplaced along the way.
This is one of the biggest, most time-consuming, and most expensive parts of logistics management. Transportation for your goods might need to be fast, cheap, or a mix of the two depending on your business’s specific needs. Finding the right carriers for international transportation, domestic transport, and then shipping to your end-users is critical to keeping your business running smoothly and keeping your customers happy. You may need to move things quickly, or you may want to save the most amount of money, but sometimes working with a 3PL or other logistics partner can get you the best of both worlds with existing relationships they have developed for transportation needs.
Data is the lifeblood of eCommerce businesses. It’s no different when it comes to logistics for your company. You need to have the information to provide quick, accurate communication to customers, suppliers, and partners. From inventory to transportation to warehousing, having good information on all aspects of your inventory will allow you to make better decisions about manufacturing, product development, storage, and sales. After all, without information about your logistics, you would not know how many items you have and where they are located, so you cannot make any decisions about what your business needs to do next.
When considering how international logistics can impact your eCommerce business, you should know the advantages it can bring you. This is a great way to expand or grow your business, and sometimes it can even be necessary depending on the products and industry you work in.
However, there are some disadvantages and challenges when dealing with international logistics.
Customs and Taxes
A third-party logistics provider, or 3PL, can bring expertise and experience to your international logistics management. Their knowledge will make the whole process easy for you, allowing you to focus on other important aspects of your business.
Save Time and Money
Expand Your Reach
If you are looking for a partner for your international logistics, Rakuten Super Logistics has helped companies just like yours navigate the global supply chain. From international shipping to warehousing to customs documentation, our experienced professionals have seen it all and can help you develop a plan to deal with any unexpected challenges that come up. Get a quote today to see how our international logistics team can help manage your business.