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The path to successful cross-border eCommerce – How Hurricane’s solutions can help you successfully trade cross-border.

Cross-border eCommerce can provide any business with the opportunity to expand and open their business up to more markets and customers. Whilst this sounds like a fantastic proposition, there are many issues to contend with when first starting out.

There has recently been a large increase in the amount of regulations and compliance rules that are being introduced and monitored, which are often missed by smaller businesses who may not have any previous experience with customs.

There is a sharp focus on knowing what you are sending, and who you are sending it to.

Unknowingly sending an item into a country that requires a licence or sending goods to a blacklisted customer will end up with a business facing fines, and goods being destroyed.

Hurricane has developed 3 main solutions to help businesses stay compliant, and successfully expand their business into cross-border eCommerce.

They are Import Duty and Tax calculations, Prohibited and Restricted Goods Screening and Denied Party Screening. Below we show what these solutions do, and how they can help your business navigate cross-border eCommerce.

Duty and Tax

Every product has a duty and tax rate applied by individual customs upon importation. Individual countries also have their own deminimis levels, which are the values under which products do not have any duty or taxes applied to them.

It can therefore be difficult to calculate the duty and tax rates applicable in checkout. Hurricane’s duty and tax calculator allows businesses to show their customers the total cost of any purchase, drastically reducing negative customer experiences and customer churn.

Prohibited and Restricted Goods

Each country’s customs have their own rules on what can and can’t be imported, and whether special licences or permissions are required. Having carried out deep analysis of restrictions and requirements for importing, exporting and transporting goods in 154 countries, covering 97% of global GDP, Hurricane provides feedback on prohibited and restricted codes. Hurricane’s screening prevents goods from being wrongly transported or imported, ensuring there are no compliance slip ups.

Denied Party Screening

Denied Party Screening is becoming crucial for any business trading cross-border as punishments become more severe. Hurricane’s screening allows businesses to see if their customers and partners are on any of the global denied parties lists, allowing you to control who you sell your products to.

Compliance is key

Transparency is key to providing a positive customer experience. It is incredibly cost-effective and affordable compared to fines that can be given due to non-compliance.

Hurricane can also be a key selling point for your customers, as they will know that all costs will be paid upfront and transit times will be reduced.

Contact us to find out how Hurricane can help your business navigate the uncertainties of cross-border eCommerce.

Hurricane Tamebay Webinar

Hurricane Commerce signs up for Tamebay Live Show

We are delighted to be a main sponsor and speaker at the first ever Tamebay Live.

The 5-day virtual event in May is set to be a great new addition to the calendar for retailers, brands, marketplaces and anyone else involved in the fast growing world of eCommerce.

More than 30 workshops and a host of masterclasses have been lined up from May 17-21 with each day having its own theme.

Hurricane is the headline sponsor and co-host for Day 1, called ‘Back to Basics’, and will then be a speaker on Day 4, which is all about Cross-Border selling.

Martyn Noble, Hurricane’s CEO, said: “Tamebay have come up with an innovative and hugely timely event that will give retailers, brands and others involved in eCommerce plenty of food for thought and inspiration.

“We are thrilled to be playing a leading part and, particularly, look forward to sharing knowledge and ideas that will help anyone looking to grow their sales internationally.

For more information about Tamebay Live and to register to attend visit https://tamebaylive.com/

Please also keep an eye on the Hurricane website and LinkedIn for further details as we run up to this hugely exciting conference.

Hurricane to be Gold Sponsor at WMX Asia

Hurricane is delighted to announce that it will be a Gold sponsor at The World Mail & Express Asia Conference, taking place in Bangkok, Thailand, from the 1st to the 3rd of November 2021.

This prestigious annual international event brings together leaders in parcel and mail world, providing great opportunities for networking, gaining industry insights and doing business.

As a Gold sponsor, Hurricane will not only be exhibiting, but CEO Martyn Noble will also be speaking about some of the major regulatory changes impacting the postal and carrier industry and the importance of quality data in enabling seamless cross-border eCommerce trade.

Hurricane will be attending the event with Chinese partner ELI Holdings, who are helping us to develop our links in China and the wider Asia Pacific region.

We are looking forward to showcasing Hurricane’s data enhancement technology at WMX Asia, a region that is at the epicentre of global eCommerce trade.

For more information on the event and Hurricane follow the link below:

WMX Asia Conference

Parcel delays loom as STOP Act and ICS2 hit on March 15

Postal operators are bracing themselves for the biggest date in their calendar this year.

Next Monday (March 15) sees the enforcement of the US STOP Act and the European Union’s Import Control System 2 (ICS2).

The STOP Act had originally been due to come into full effect on January 1 until it was moved to March to give US Customs and Border Protection more time to prepare for the regulations.

The Act requires postal operators to provide a higher level of advance electronic data (AED) than had previously been necessary.

ICS2 is also aimed at postal operators and requires entry summary declarations to be submitted on parcels coming into and through the EU.

Cross-border eCommerce specialist Hurricane Commerce’s technology is enabling postal operators across the globe to meet the new requirements for complete and valid data including product descriptions, HS6 codes and country of origin.

Martyn Noble, Hurricane’s CEO, said: “March 15 is the biggest date in the diary for postal operators this year and the level of preparedness varies from one authority to the next.

“But the stark reality is that, as of next Monday, postal operators and their customers will need to produce complete and valid data on their eCommerce shipments.

“We have already seen the impact of a lack of quality data on parcels since Brexit on January 1. The STOP Act and ICS2 are the next major challenges and then we have the introduction of the EU VAT reforms in July.

“With the Coronavirus pandemic continuing to place huge pressures on air freight capacity, the supply chain industry cannot afford delays, returns and additional storage, not to mention the associated extra costs.

“In December, we predicted that a lack of readiness for the STOP Act could result in several hundred million shipments being held up and we believe this remains the case. This is without adding in the impact of ICS2 with the onset of much greater scrutiny.

“The cross-border eCommerce landscape has changed for good, but those postal operators which get their data right will be able to meet these challenges and achieve scale.”

Hurricane’s solutions were specifically developed to enable customers to meet the challenges of the new regulations.

Hurricane’s Zephyr data enhancement API allows bulk clearance facilities to check, find and populate additional or missing data including product descriptions and HS6 codes.

Meanwhile, its Aura API covers three other critical cross-border functions – duty and tax calculation, prohibited and restricted goods screening and denied parties screening.

The company was established in 2016 and clients include Australia Post, An Post, SEKO Logistics and Lenton Group. Postal operators can access Hurricane’s solutions direct or via the IPC’s Dynamic Merchant Platform (DMP) and UPU.

 

Hurricane in the media:

Parcel and Postal Technology International – Parcel delays loom as STOP Act and ICS2 hit on March 15

Post and Parcel – Parcel delays loom as STOP Act and ICS2 to hit next Monday

Hurricane Commerce cross-border eCommerce solutions go live on Magento Commerce

Hurricane Commerce’s data enhancement, duty and tax calculation, prohibited and restricted goods screening and denied parties screening products are now live on Magento Commerce.

The release of Hurricane’s solutions on Magento Commerce comes at a crucial time for eCommerce traders with Brexit and other changes to laws and regulations, making complete and valid electronic data mandatory.

Without the right data, shipments will be held at customs, causing significant delays, customer dissatisfaction and increased costs.

Magento merchants will be able to access Hurricane’s bespoke AI classification engine Bluestone to ensure their products have the right descriptions and HS6 codes.

Bluestone was built to understand detailed product language and nuances to identify descriptions and match them against the most appropriate customs commodity description and subsequent HS6 code.

Merchants will also be able to integrate Hurricane’s Aura solution, its API that covers duty and tax calculation, prohibited and restricted goods screening and screening of denied parties.

Martyn Noble, CEO of Hurricane Commerce, said: “We are excited that our products are now live on the Magento Marketplace and available to help eCommerce merchants drive greater performance in their cross-border trade.

“Our solutions reduce cart abandonment by enabling merchants to provide real-time calculations of duty and taxes, which gives their customers complete cost transparency.

“We know from our experience with existing customers that reducing cart abandonment can increase revenues by as much as 24%.”

The other major requirement for cross-border eCommerce shops is to ensure they are fully compliant.

Martyn added: “Regulations and laws are getting tougher around the globe.

“Merchants need to have complete and valid data on all shipments as well as ensuring they are not trying to ship goods into countries where they are not allowed. There is also the need to ensure you aren’t sending goods to anyone on a denied parties list.

“Hurricane’s industry-leading solutions are already used by merchants, marketplaces, postal authorities and carriers around the world. “We are delighted that they are available to Magento customers to enable them to accelerate the growth of their businesses and remain compliant.”

The Hurricane extension can be downloaded from the Magento Marketplace. Hurricane is a partner in the Adobe Exchange Partner Program.

https://marketplace.magento.com/hurricanecommerce-module-duty-tax-compliance.html

 

Hurricane in the news:

Tamebay – Duty and tax calculation for Magento Commerce from Hurricane Commerce

Early Brexit chaos just “tip of the iceberg” says cross-border trade specialist

Problems in the first few days since Brexit are the “tip of the iceberg”, according to cross-border eCommerce trade expert Hurricane Commerce.

Hurricane says that the issues caused by lack of complete and valid customs data and VAT now being payable on low value goods into the UK will cause severe challenges over the coming days and weeks.

Last week, DPD temporarily suspended parcel deliveries to the EU due to lack of data, stating that 20% of items had incorrect or incomplete information.

Several UK online retailers, including luxury food merchant Fortnum & Mason, have temporarily stopped taking orders from EU countries due to the extra customs paperwork now needed.

And some EU retailers have ceased taking UK orders following the January 1 change making overseas suppliers who send parcels containing goods valued at £135 or less to the UK responsible for paying any import VAT that is due.

Customer satisfaction has also been put under increased strain with consumers in the EU complaining about unexpected VAT charges and clearance fees, and UK consumers being asked to pay higher delivery charges to cover the extra work caused by Brexit.

Another major hurdle resulting from the Brexit trade deal concerns ‘rules of origin’ with the threat of tariffs due if goods do not meet the complex requirements or are not wholly made in either the UK or EU.

Martin Palmer, Hurricane’s Chief Content and Compliance Officer, said: “Online merchants and marketplaces, postal operators and carriers are starting to see the reality of Brexit and the ending of VAT exemption on low value goods by the UK Government.

“With the EU also removing the low value VAT threshold in July, the compliance pressures on all parts of the cross-border supply chain are set to intensify even further with similar issues to be experienced in all EU countries to those current being experienced in the UK

“The first week and a half since Brexit is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Martin added: “We predicted for the last six months of 2020 that many businesses were going to face serious challenges post January 1, while others did their planning and put the best possible systems in place.

“There is simply no escape from the need for complete and valid customs clearance data including product descriptions, HS6 codes, shipper and consignee details and country of origin.

“Retailers which offer Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) give themselves the best chance of keeping their customers happy by avoiding the doorstep shock of unexpected fees for customs duties and import taxes.”

Hurricane Commerce has developed a series of API solutions to help ensure seamless cross-border eCommerce trade covering data enhancement, duty and tax calculation, prohibited and restricted goods screening and denied parties screening.

Its customers include some of the world’s leading postal operators, carriers, online merchant and marketplaces.

 

Hurricane in the news:

Tamebay – Early Brexit chaos just “tip of the iceberg”

Air Cargo Week – Hurricane: Early Brexit problems “tip of the iceberg”

Sky News Business – Brexit trade problems ‘just the tip of the iceberg’, e-commerce expert warns

Retail Times – Early Brexit chaos just “tip of the iceberg” says cross-border trade specialist

Eminetra – Brexit’s trade problem is “just the tip of the iceberg,” e-commerce experts warn 

Q Radio – Brexit trade problems ‘just the tip of the iceberg’, e-commerce expert warns

An Post partners with Hurricane Commerce to enhance eCommerce parcel data quality

An Post is working with Hurricane Commerce to help it develop its cross-border eCommerce capability.

The postal operator in the Republic of Ireland has integrated Hurricane’s Zephyr solution to enhance the quality of its advance electronic data on mail parcels.

The requirement for posts to meet a higher threshold for parcel data will be far greater from January 1, 2021, with Brexit and the enforcement of the STOP Act in the United States.

A further major change follows in March next year with the implementation of the Import Control System 2 (ICS2) requiring postal operators to make entry summary declarations on all packets and parcels.

Earlier this year, Hurricane Commerce launched its easy to integrate Zephyr data enhancement product which allows bulk clearance facilities to check the accuracy of data including product descriptions and HS6 codes, and receive additional pertinent or missing information all under a single quick check function.

Zephyr can process over 700 million requests a day and can, on an item by item API call base, provide for a real time feedback with response times of 100 milliseconds. The screening of a file consisting of a maximum of 10,000 items that is sent to Hurricane takes no more than 15 minutes.

David Spottiswood, one of the founders of Hurricane Commerce, said: “We are delighted to be helping An Post meet the mandatory requirements for data on mail parcels.

“An Post is an innovative, forward-looking post that is putting itself in the strongest possible position to not only be compliant but also to take advantage of the exponential growth in cross-border eCommerce.

“The swathe of regulations coming into effect from the start of 2021 will result in parcels being held up and, in many cases, rejected unless they contain the required customs clearance data. Having the necessary complete and valid electronic data will ensure that mail items flow smoothly through customs and on to their intended customer.”

Cyril Mc Grane, An Post’s Director of International Trade, said: “We are investing heavily in our cross-border eCommerce capability and Hurricane will play an important part in this.

“The continuing enhancement of the data quality on parcels will ensure we meet the regulatory requirements and provide benefits operationally, financially and, most importantly of all, in terms of customer satisfaction.”

 

Hurricane in the media:

https://postandparcel.info/129636/news/post/an-post-investing-heavily-in-cross-border-e-commerce-capability/

https://tamebay.com/2020/12/an-post-hurricane-partnership-to-enhance-ecommerce-parcel-data-quality.html

https://apex-insight.com/an-post-works-with-hurricane-commerce/

Hurricane makes the news around the world

Hurricane Commerce has been making headlines across the global postal and logistics media.

Leading publications including Parcel & Post Technology International, Air Cargo, Post & Parcel, the Handy Shipping Guide, Lloyds Loading List and The Loadstar have all carried articles looking at the likely impact of Brexit and the US STOP Act on cross-border eCommerce trade after January 1, 2021.

The Loadstar article focussed on Hurricane’s warning that as many as 700 million mail items could be rejected for not having the complete and valid advance electronic data required under the STOP Act in just 30 days’ time.

This was confirmed by Martha Johnson, spokesperson for the United States Postal Service (USPS) who told The Loadstar: ““Postal shipments containing goods not accompanied by AED will be considered inadmissible.”

To read The Loadstar article in full visit https://theloadstar.com/tougher-us-drug-legislation-set-to-derail-millions-of-parcels-on-1-january/

Meanwhile, Hurricane’s Chief Content and Compliance Officer, Martin Palmer, has been quoted at length discussing the looming “chaos” of Brexit on the cross-border shipment of eCommerce parcels.

Martin said: “This is not just about the UK and trading into the EU; it is also about the remaining 27 EU member countries and their cross-border trade into the UK.”

Read Martin’s thoughts in full on the Post & Parcel website –

https://postandparcel.info/127999/news/e-commerce/hurricane-commerce-time-is-running-out-to-get-brexit-ready/

UK and EU flag over London

Cross-border trade operators need to get Brexit-ready or face severe delays at customs

Planning for Brexit Day ranges from “excellent” to “chaotic”, according to a cross-border eCommerce specialist.

Hurricane Commerce says the discrepancy between those who have put in place robust plans and those who haven’t is huge – and time is running out to get Brexit-ready.

Postal authorities, carriers, eCommerce merchants and marketplaces all face severe impact on their businesses if they are not able to provide complete and valid data on parcels from January 1.

Martin Palmer, Hurricane Commerce’s Chief Content and Compliance Officer, said: “This is not just about the UK and trading into the EU; it is also about the remaining 27 EU member countries and their cross-border trade into the UK.

“The phrase ‘My shipment is stuck in customs’ is often used by businesses and the ever-growing number of private citizens using international eCommerce retailers.

“The perception is that customs officers and their bureaucratic requirements are bringing the world to a grinding halt. The reality is quite different. Most customs authorities operate sophisticated, automated clearance facilities taking just a few moments for a shipment with the correct data to clear customs.

“The real problem is usually that the exporter or importer has not complied with the requirements to import a shipment into a country and have failed to supply full and accurate data and documentation.

“The problem is only going to be exacerbated by Brexit. We know that while some postal operators, carriers and eCommerce merchants are ready for the changes, many more are a long way from being prepared. The state of readiness ranges from the excellent to the chaotic.”

Some of the main reasons for delays in Customs clearance include:

  • Missing or incomplete data – Customs clearance in most countries is automated. Missing or incomplete data will result in an automatic failure.
  • Vague or misleading descriptions of contents – Product descriptions need to be accurate and detailed.
  • Missing and incorrect HS 6 codes – The World Customs Organisation Harmonised System that uses code numbers to define products. Many Logistics Service Providers (LSPs) will refuse to accept shipments without provision of this information.
  • Incomplete shipper and consignee data – Ensuring full details of shipper and consignee name and address data, including collection and importer details if relevant, is essential.
  • Contents require licences or other specialised paperwork for import – Every country has unique requirements, practices and restrictions for international shipping and determining which commodities can be shipped into and out of a country.
  • Unrealistic valuation of contents – One of the most common duty and tax disputes is an incorrectly declared value. Values should represent the actual transaction value or a realistic market value. An error in value can cost you considerably in import delays and fines.
  • Missing Country of Origin (COO) – Customs require to know where the commodity was manufactured in addition to where it was exported from. The COO may influence the amount of duty and tax that may be applicable to be paid.
  • Denied Parties (DPs) – Denied parties are individuals, organisations and entities that have been placed on a governmental list that limits the ability to do business with them. Most governments have DP lists as well as international organisations such as the United Nations, and the EU. Shipments originating from or destined to an individual, organisation or entity appearing on a DP list can result in clearance delays, substantial financial penalties or even jail time.

Martin added: “Anyone who leaves their Brexit preparations until the last minute is asking for trouble. We are now less than 80 days away from this seismic change in the trading relationship between the UK and the EU.

“Customs authorities themselves are having to scale up massively to cope with the huge increase in requirement for customs declarations and there will inevitably be some major challenges as both sides get used to the new norm.

“It therefore means the more prepared those involved in cross-border eCommerce trade are, the more likely your parcels are to get to their destination as seamlessly as possible after January 1.”

Hurricane Commerce’s industry-leading solutions are helping customers, including postal operators, carriers, eCommerce merchants, marketplaces and platforms across the key areas of data enhancement, duty and tax calculation, prohibited and restricted goods screening and denied parties screening.

The company, founded in 2016, has brought together leading professionals from logistics, compliance and technology.

Maureen Cori, Hurricane Commerce

Hurricane Commerce Q&A with Maureen Cori, a senior member of our Content and Compliance team.

Hurricane has experts in compliance, customs, logistics, eCommerce and technology. Here, we catch up with Maureen Cori, Hurricane’s Chief Content and Compliance Officer Designate, to find out more about her world and the ever-increasing regulations and laws which are impacting businesses across the globe.

How did you get into customs and compliance? Was it something you always wanted to do, or did you just fall into it?

In this business, they say, “you either love it or hate it”. I absolutely fell into it – and fell in love with it – hard! While in college, I got an entry level job working on ocean freight clearances and was hooked on international trade.

My original passion was rooted in the arts, but I retargeted my focus on transport and international trade. After working in a Customs Broker on ocean freight clearances, I went on to work for DHL.

I started with typing and faxing manifests and classifying goods based on manifest descriptions – vastly different from today’s world.

After years of development my growing understanding and learning led me to monitoring compliance across the business from training development, supporting sales to assisting our customers in understanding what was required to export or import.

I decided to sit for the US Customs Brokers License exam after months of courses, and I was lucky enough to be part of the 1% that passed the examination to be licensed.  Obtaining my license allowed me to manage any type of Customs Brokerage operation in the US and gave me the opportunity to be the Corporate license holder for a business.

 

How has the need for compliancy changed since you started in this industry and why has it become so important in recent years?

Compliance has always been a focus when I first started in transport and international trade, but the game and the players were quite different. It was a smaller world, and there was le

ss accessibility to all involved in the supply chain.

The World Customs Organization (WCO) created the first-ever Harmonised Tariff System, effective in 1988 – also known as Harmonized System (HS). This was the start of a major shift in compliance with some structure and clear regulated rules around product classification and duties and taxes.

The role of Customs at that time was to collect duties and taxes at the point of entry. The focus was on late filing of entry summary and duties and taxes and fines.

Everything changed post-9/11. New laws and regulations came into play, and if they had already been in place, they were now enforced. Compliance was the focus. The cost of non-conformity to these old and new laws was high, and ignorance was no longer an acceptable defence.

Understanding your customers, who do you do business with, what are red flags, became critical to business. Government agencies created partnerships with trade through voluntary programmes like Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) and Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) for example.

 

How have advancements in technology allowed improvements in compliance to occur so smoothly?

Technology was not even part of the process – manual intervention is what you relied on, and human error was always a factor. The internet was a new concept and regulators were just learning how to navigate the rules and laws around it.

Advance data is a game-changer for all, and improvements in technology have meant there is no room for error.

Regulatory authorities around the world are demanding accurate data and in many cases at wheels up or 4 hours prior to arrival at the destination. This was a culture shock for all industries and a very heavy financial burden on the private sector. Bad data creates fines, penalties, detentions, and more.

Compliance is a critical business requirement that is also a benefit. Compliance should not be considered a cost centre, but rather a selling proposition. In today’s world, businesses want transparency, accuracy, and compliance to be reputable and successful.

 

How has the Trump Presidency impacted international trade and particularly compliance?

Trump’s Presidency has seen a big shift in the US’s approach to International Trade. One such example is the introduction of the STOP ACT, which is aimed at targeting postal opioids shipped via overseas postal operators.

Advanced Data requirements are mandated to postal operators to support the STOP ACT among other things. Compliance measures will be in place to support the STOP ACT with heavy fines associated with non-compliance.

Other changes during this administration have included the China Trade Wars, additional tariffs, the new Universal Postal Union (UPU) Terminal Fees agreement and the removal of North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to form the United States Mexico Canada agreement (USMC). These are all game changes in the world of compliance, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and international trade.

 

With the US election coming up later this year, how big an impact will it have on upcoming regulatory changes and the chances for more to be introduced?

I do not have a crystal ball, but I can say this is a critical election year for the United States. Regardless of the outcome, if President Trump is re-elected or if Vice President Biden is elected there will be changes ahead.

Trade relations will be something to watch closely. If it is sanctions lifted or tightened, or if we see more prohibitions or restrictions, tariff rates, or more trade wars, new regulatory changes will happen.

 

What initial steps can a business take to improve their compliance procedures?

Compliance should be the foundation for every organization and falls into two main categories: Compliance with laws and regulations and Compliance with internal policies and procedures.

Compliance, both legal and internal, is a tone that needs to come from the top of all companies as non-compliance has implications company wide. Once established, a company’s compliance programme should be regularly internal audits, and gaps identified and addressed.

Having a designated Compliance Officer within a company providing guidance to the business is critical, and in recent years has become a Board level position.

Many new businesses or current businesses that expand into international transactions do not always understand the cross functional connections to a single process and the impact it may have. Understanding your compliance requirements is the start of a Global Trade Compliance Programme.

A designated Compliance Officer within a company providing guidance to the business is essential. Mapping out processes and potential risk or remediations is recommended. Know your customers and always screen all your parties in your supply chain to ensure you are working with good people.

By having a programme in place your business can swiftly adapt and update processes and procedures when new laws or regulations come into place and be compliant.