You will notice that the topic of international trade is a hot one in this issue. This isn’t surprising, given the explosive growth of international e-commerce over the past decade or so. Even when I started as managing editor of this magazine (which, admittedly, is almost 11 years ago), international shipping was not nearly as pressing a topic for parcel professionals to consider. Oh, of course it happened; people have been purchasing products from other countries, in one way or another, for thousands of years (although let’s be honest, we are spoiled when you consider how quickly we get our items. Can you imagine having to wait two or three months for the trading expedition to return to deliver the spices and silk to your local merchant?) But in the past 10-15 years or so, with the wonders of the Internet, e-commerce is not just thriving, it’s booming. And people still expect their orders to arrive quickly, no matter from which country they originate. Add in the fact that consumers can now order online right from their smartphones, at any time, any place, and it’s safe to say that international trade is now at a level that was likely previously unanticipated by even the most seasoned parcel professional. Who could have predicted the vast number of packages that are now flying through the skies or filling up cargo space on ships every single day?
This boom is, of course, a good thing in many ways for merchants. More products to more people around the world means more money in the company’s pockets. But it also means that there are challenges that are inherent when shipping a product to another country, challenges that are not present when shipping domestically. Customs regulations and forms, duties and taxes, restricted items depending on the country… the list goes on. This is why while it’s crucial that most shippers enter the international arena in order to remain competitive, they must also take care to not simply rush into things, because filling out a form incorrectly or not paying the appropriate duties and taxes could mean a significant loss of profit once you pay the fines.
We hope you find this issue illuminating. And if international shipping isn’t one of the many hats you wear, no problem; we cover plenty of other topics in here as well. And don’t forget to check out the annual HOT COMPANIES section, which starts on page 14. Whether you are looking for a solution provider to help solve an international shipping dilemma or any other problem a logistics professional may face, it’s likely you’ll find a mutually beneficial partnership in the following pages.
I look forward to seeing many of you at the PARCEL Forum in Dallas, September 12-14! As always, thanks for reading PARCEL.