How to Import Like a Pro - Episode 1
Updated: Apr 8
Welcome to the first episode in this new series where I'll talk be sharing with you all the nuances and ins and outs of how to run a smooth, efficient and beautiful import supply chain.
You can see this week's episode right here on my blog, or head over to Youtube to watch the video there.
Prefer to listen on the go? Why not check out my podcast where you can enjoy this episode and many more!
Transcript from Video
Hi, this is Kim with CSG consulting and this week we're going to talk about how to import like a pro. This is a first of a series where I'll talk about all the nuances and ins and outs of how to run a smooth, efficient and beautiful import supply chain. I've been in the import business since the 90s and I've spent over half of my career working in import supply chain in some form or another. I have had the privilege of working with great importers like black and Decker for target and of course Amazon. I've seen a few exceptionally well run import supply chains and I've seen a lot of insource and I've seen a lot of import supply chains that are really failing.
So how do I define a failing import supply chain? If a company is paying any demurrage, any detention or any unplanned storage, you have a failing import supply chain that needs your immediate attention. Now it's a high bar, I agree. And having a zero defect import supply chain projects, an image of absolute perfection, no mistakes, nothing overlooked. And let's be honest, there is no perfect import supply chain out there. However, you can't have an import supply chain that is data-driven, nimble, and predictive.
And if you can execute a nimble, forward-looking, realtime data-driven import supply chain, you can eliminate storage, demurrage and detention. And the best part is all the information that you need to accomplish. This is available to you today through your fruit for order or your broker, you have to make one small change. You have to switch from being a reactive import supply chain to being a predictive import supply chain. The most common reason for imports to be delayed is waiting docks. That's right. Millions and millions and millions of dollars of cargo is held up every year because someone is waiting for a document, a certificate, a bill of Laden, a packing list, a commercial invoice, a USDA certificate. All these documents are required for import. And the problem with this and why it is so heartbreaking is that it's completely avoidable to be waiting for documents. It is completely avoidable to have your goods sitting at a port collecting demurrage and detention and unplanned storage.
Importing is labor intensive work. There's entry filing and financial payments and delivery orders in coordination in three PLS and service providers all tightly choreographed together. And one misstep. One small mistake, one overlooking of a detail can bring that entire import supply chain to a screeching hall, leaving millions of dollars of a cargo just hanging around waiting for somebody to do something with it. So how does a company build an agile, forward-looking, nimble, predictive import supply chain? There are three ingredients, data milestones and action. Now, there are a lot of nuances in the import supply chain and we'll talk about those in upcoming issues. But today I want to focus on these three things.
All modern import brokers and freight forwarders have data and they should be able to provide you with real time data that you need in order to run your import supply chain. If you're working with a broker or a freight forwarder who does not have realtime data or is not willing to provide you with real time data, you have a problem because a broker who does not have that information or isn't willing to use it and share it with you is frankly just not capable of running a zero delay in port supply chain. You need to work with brokers and freight forwarders who are monitoring their own data and are willing to share it with you if they're not. You need to find a new broker or a freight forwarder.
So we started with data and data is very important, but data for data's sake is completely useless. You must set milestones or standards, something to measure your progress against. The number one overlooked problem in an import supply chain is your good shipping earlier or late to the PO delivery date and the PO delivery date is the date that you set with your manufacturer in your shipper that the goods must be shipped by and if your goods are coming in before or after that, it will create disruptions further down in your import supply chain. So this is one of the number one milestones that you need to monitor. Are your goods leaving on time. The second milestone that's extremely important is docs received. As I mentioned above, waiting for docs is the number one delay in the import clearance process. So docs received is an essential milestone that you need to have in place to ensure that you are receiving the documents on time and in a way that will allow you to smoothly clear through customs once your goods arrive at the border.
This brings us to action. Having data and knowing whether you're succeeding or failing are all great, but you got to do something with it. And that means if your goods are not arriving on time because they're going to ship late, you need to start managing that as soon as you know. And because you now have a milestone, and because you now have a milestone on what the ship date is, you can start predictively managing a late, or early shipment. It can be as easy as putting it on a slower vessel or as manageable as getting an expedited trucker to make sure the goods get to the warehouse in time. By being able to predictively manage this delay, you are in control of the situation and you can put in place predictively and far enough ahead of the to keep your goods moving smoothly. So managing when your goods start to ship is essential for an import supply chain. The second milestone is docs received related to waiting for documents. You must tell your manufacturer and you're shipping or when you need those documents and it needs to be as early in the process as possible. If you're waiting for your broker to call you and tell you that your goods have arrived and you have no documents, you are way behind the ball weeks behind the ball, you need to know that there is going to be a problem with your import process as early in the process as possible. So by setting a docs received milestone, you are able to get on the phone, start sending emails, following up with people, finding out where all that documentation is long before it becomes an issue for customs.
As I mentioned before, the import supply chain is highly nuanced, especially depending on what kind of products that you're bringing in. And so these are just two milestones. If you put in place data, milestone and actions, just these two milestones will materially impact in a positive way, your import supply chain and will eliminate demerged attention and unpredicted storage. I'm gonna finish this. They don't know how so please join me next time for more discussions on how to import like a pro and we'll get into some of the other milestones and actions that you need to take to ensure that you have a clean, efficient, and beautifully run import supply chain.