It's about 500 miles from New York City to Toronto, but it can take as long as two weeks to complete deliveries. In fact, for many U.S. businesses, deliveries to and across Canada take significantly longer than those in the states.
In today’s market, that kind of turnaround is becoming unacceptable — and causing companies to drop their slow suppliers and partners. So what’s the holdup?
Here are the top five contributing factors.
1. Canadian distribution capabilities are driven by demographics. Canada's population includes approximately 38 million people. The U.S. population exceeds 330 million. However, Canada occupies a geographic area that is slightly larger than that of the U.S. To put this in perspective, it's as if the population of California (39 million) was spread across the entire U.S. with room to spare. That said, while 80% of Canadians live in urban areas, and most within 60 miles of the U.S. border, it can be difficult to reach residents living in more remote, less-populated regions.
2. U.S. logistics companies don’t maintain extensive distribution networks in Canada. Instead, once shipments arrive in Canada, they are usually handed off to a Canadian company for intra-Canada services. This can add several days to the process, with shipments generally transported to the Canadian company's distribution center and held for unloading, processing and reloading.
3. Canadian companies offer limited regional service. Unlike in the U.S., where a shipper can easily find carriers that provide coast-to-coast coverage, Canadian carriers tend to offer only regional service. This means U.S. businesses with operations throughout Canada must rely on patchworks of local carriers, with shipments often forced to endure multiple handoffs during the course of transit. Relying on multiple carriers often means loss of visibility, lack of consistency in service levels, and an inability to coordinate delivery schedules across geographic regions.
4. Last-mile capabilities vary among carriers. Last-mile expectations are as important to Canadian consumers as they are to U.S. consumers. But what happens, for example, when a delivery has to be made in Quebec, where French is the official language, or to an address in a remote territory not serviced by most transportation providers? Failure to ensure that a local carrier has the required capabilities can add days to a delivery schedule, and seriously jeopardize a shipper's relationships with customers.
5. Businesses need to understand and prioritize the customs compliance process. U.S.-Canadian border clearance has become significantly more user-friendly in recent years, with the implementation of "single-window" processing systems, harmonization of certain regulations, and pre-clearance capabilities. A business that takes the time to understand and ensure full compliance with all requirements — or that enlists an experienced customs broker or logistics provider to help manage the process on its behalf — can expect a seamless clearance process with minimal delays. On the other hand, shipments that arrive at the border with incorrect or incomplete documentation, or that have failed to obtain necessary Canadian government permits, can expect to be delayed, with punitive fines likely.
Purolator Offers a Better Way
U.S.-based Purolator International leverages its unique Canadian market access and capabilities to offer guaranteed service in as few as two to three days.
How is this possible? Purolator is the U.S. subsidiary of Ontario-based Purolator Inc., which is one of Canada’s leading courier, freight and logistics providers. Purolator Inc. maintains a comprehensive distribution network that provides service throughout Canada, which sets it apart from most other Canadian service providers.
For U.S.-based customers, the company draws from its extensive network to identify an optimal solution. This often includes a three-step consolidation strategy:
"Consolidation is truly a game changer when it comes to cutting transit time," says Matt McDonough, Purolator’s vice president of operations and customer solutions. "It's not uncommon for us to have a consolidated shipment arrive in Canada on the same day that it's picked up in the U.S.”
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