Today, 41% of consumers expect their online purchases to arrive in less than 24 hours. As projections for delivery times shorten and international trade increases, manufacturers and distributors are adjusting their cross-border logistics strategies to ensure that timely delivery is a top priority. At the same time, systemic supply chain disruptions, lack of proper infrastructure and regulatory obstacles are all contributing to the complexity of managing cross-border freight transportation.
In response to these trends, businesses are increasingly turning to third-party logistics providers for help. Following are three ways in which 3PLs are optimizing cross-border distribution.
Multimodal transportation options. Given the constant flow of trade across borders, avoiding traffic congestion can be a considerable challenge. 3PLs can help combat these issues by identifying and scheduling the right service across multiple modes. They can use historic distribution and performance data to unveil pain points, gain a clear understanding of the shipper’s needs and limitations, and implement process improvements.
E-commerce accounted for 22% of global sales in 2022. As a result, e-trailers with a high frequency of small order volumes must utilize less-than-truckload (LTL) consolidation to navigate the challenge of delivering full pallets, half pallets or parcels in a short window of time. To do that, they need access to a large network of consolidation points, including cross-docking, transloading, and short- and long-term warehousing.
Reliance on a single-route plan often doesn’t provide retailers with sufficient supply chain flexibility and agility. 3PLs that offer international shipping services can factor in intermodal and ocean options as cost- and time-efficient alternatives.
Geographic network access. Although labor is cheaper in many offshore locations, global supply chain shortages have proved the importance of staying close to end customers. Many businesses have shifted manufacturing to Mexico to provide customers with a localized experience, along with access to duty-free benefits under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
It’s vital to have connections and clear communication with a variety of port locations on both sides of the border. A 3PL provider can connect businesses with brokerages, warehouses, and consolidation and deconsolidation points across North America. When it comes to shipments crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, having a skilled bilingual staff to communicate quickly and effectively is crucial for time-sensitive, high-pressure logistics situations.
Andrew Welling is director of cross-border services at TA Services.
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