The Ultimate Guide to Overcoming Common International Shipping Challenges

April 22, 2024
Ram Radhakrishnan
Founder & CEO


Review some of the common international shipping challenges shippers encounter, and explore strategies they can leverage to overcome them.

As you can imagine, transporting cargo internationally can be fraught with complications. If not tackled with the right approach, these complications develop into challenges that threaten to derail the entire international operation. Common international shipping challenges often stump shippers, resulting in real consequences for their shipment.

When comparing an efficient international shipping operation to one riddled with challenges, you will notice that the latter incurs higher costs and takes longer, and the worst is that it tends to lead to supply chain disruptions. This article provides an ultimate guide to overcoming international shipping challenges. But before that, let's examine what these challenges are exactly.

Common International Shipping Challenges

Because of the complexity of international shipping, a slight misstep can lead to delays or worse, disrupt the entire process. To avoid these, it is essential to understand the challenges that birth these errors. Here are some of them:

Documentation Errors

Documents can be hard to keep up with and easy to mistake or skip. The thing about international shipping is that different countries have different requirements. Sometimes, keeping up with this documentation can be a hassle for a company or business that runs multiple freight or shipping operations to and from different countries. This is why documentation errors are pretty common.

Custom Clearance Issues

Different countries have their policies, some more complex than others. The challenges with the customs clearance process are usually caused by poor oversight. This could be done by properly declaring the value of the goods for tax and shipping customs, or it could be because the company brought in prohibited or sensitive items. Obviously, this will lead to more scrutiny and delay the shipping operation. Depending on the severity, the cargo might be seized, creating another problem. Customs delays are mostly painful because they can be avoided in many cases with a bit of support.

Poor Communication

Poor communication can be problematic because it often leads to a failure to properly articulate expectations to the parties involved in the shipping operation. A good example of this challenge is the failure to explain the cargo type or amount to the carrier. Most of the time, the carriers need help to prepare adequately, leading to delays and other issues.

Carrier Coordination Problems

This begins with choosing the wrong carriers. Failure to ensure you and the carrier are on the same page will lead to problems, primarily because coordination will be difficult. It is important to have a clear understanding of the insurance, tracking, and customs clearance assistance. It is also important to know the carrier’s infrastructure and resources. All of these will give you peace of mind, but more than that, they will also help your business coordinate with them seamlessly.

How to Overcome International Shipping Challenges

Although the challenges we highlighted earlier are common, you can easily avoid or overcome them with the right system in place. As expected, such a system will improve efficiency and customer satisfaction. Here is our guide to overcoming international shipping challenges and setting up the right system:

Automate Documentation

Because documentation is a must in any international shipping operation, it is important to get it right. To do this, the business in question may rely on tech and customizable workflows to automate the documentation flow and process. This way, the company can always ensure it has the right documentation, regardless of the country or shipping route the operation follows.

Automating the documentation makes the shipping operation much more flexible because whatever documents they need will always be on hand. It also eliminates the risk of errors and omissions.

Invest in Staying Informed

The regulations, policies, and rates governing international shipping operations constantly change. For instance, the troubles in the Red Sea, have led to rate and policy changes for shipping routes in that region. Staying informed means knowing relevant information like regulations, current events, and international shipping times. It gives you the ability to run a seamless operation.

Part of staying informed is mastering your incoterms. Incoterms define the responsibilities of buyers and sellers in international transactions. They help you and your shipping partner prevent fraud and confusion. 

Carrier Selection + Clear Communication

As we mentioned earlier, it is important to take the carrier selection process seriously if you want to have a seamless coordination process. However, even the greatest carriers will struggle to deliver if you do not spell out expectations properly. When you get the two right, having a seamless shipping process is almost guaranteed. It helps keep everyone accountable, improves transparency, and enhances coordination in the shipping operation.

It is essential to ensure you get your cargo to carriers on time. This will help prevent delays and give you a leg to stand on when the carrier is at fault.

Invest in Technology

Leveraging tech tools and solutions like Silq helps improve the visibility of international shipping operations. They also help protect the shipment and mitigate risk. A typical example of these tech solutions is trackers that give you real-time data on the shipment's location. This will ensure you have eyes on the shipment, while also helping you spot potential risks on time. You can have streamlined solutions to these risks with the right tech platform.

Leveraging Silq to Run Challenge Free International Shipping Services and Operations

Consider Bellview, a thriving furniture company with orders that reach dozens of countries worldwide. As its operations grew, the problems with international shipping grew with it. Shipping operations were constantly plagued with errors and challenges, such as poor documentation and customs clearance issues. Sometimes, they had problems coordinating with their carriers as well, primarily because the company needed to have their cargo ready for shipping at the right time.

Yes, the company was profitable, but it was clear that the international markets were beginning to complain. John, Bellview's CEO, was initially happy to let things continue the way they had until the market started turning its back on the company. He knew he needed a solution, and he needed it fast. It was at this point that he was introduced to the Silq platform.

immediately got down to business. We started by visiting Bellview factories and helping them create a more realistic schedule for their international shipments. This way, they had a production forecast and did not leave the shipping partner hanging. More importantly, with Silq, they could automate their documentation, reduce shipping costs, and stay updated with customs and shipping policies across the globe.

This way, a furniture business on the verge of losing everything suddenly turned things around, all thanks to a seamless international shipping experience that could rival the best of its market competition.

Why Silq is the Answer to Your International Shipping Challenges

Common problems typically deserve standard solutions. At Silq, we look to go beyond what’s standard, and ship your international shipment or freight at the best possible price and schedule. We tackle the biggest challenges with your shipping process, thereby preventing unpredictability when you are ready to ship internationally.

Silq’s platform allows you to access customizable workflows that enhance your operations and documentation. It also ensures all requirements are well accounted for, making your custom experience very smooth. On the Silq dashboard, you can access international shipping rates and times. It will enhance your ability to track multiple international shipments from the comfort of your phone. Our goals are to keep you compliant with international shipping regulations and give you visibility that enhances peace of mind.

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