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Video – Hurricane’s David Spottiswood talks to Daily Mail Online about Brexit parcel chaos

Hurricane’s David Spottiswood spoke at length to the Daily Mail Online about the parcel chaos unfolding since Brexit Day.

He also explains how Hurricane’s solutions are helping online retailers, postal operators and carriers get on top of the problem.

The key is having complete and valid data on your parcels if you want them to get through customs.

It’s also about being transparent with consumers about duty and tax and any other fees they are likely to face in order to receive their goods.

Postal operators face “double whammy” of STOP Act and ICS2 on March 15

Postal operators face a “hugely challenging” eight weeks after being told that full enforcement of the US STOP Act will now take effect on the same day as the EU’s ICS2.

Both regulations require postal authorities to provide advance electronic data on mail parcels entering the US and EU respectively.

The US STOP Act had been due to come into full force on January 1, but Senator Rob Portman reluctantly granted an extension to March 15 after hearing that Customs and Border Protection needed more time to finalise regulations.

However, Senator Portman made it clear that no further delays would be acceptable, saying: “Congress cannot provide this type of extension on packages without identifying data entering the United States again.”

He also highlighted how other countries including France, Spain and Germany have started to require identifying data ahead of the implementation of ICS2 on March 15.

Portman said: “Packages entering those countries without identifying data will be delayed or considered inadmissible and returned to sender.  Further, starting

March 15, the European Union will require identifying data on a package before it is loaded onto a plane for shipment.”

Hurricane Commerce, a cross-border

eCommerce technology specialist, warned before Christmas that the STOP Act enforcement would result in several hundred million mail parcels destined for the US being rejected if they have incorrect or incomplete data. Refused parcels would be returned to their country of origin triggering extra costs for returns, warehousing and storage as well as huge customer dissatisfaction.

Martyn Noble, CEO of Hurricane Commerce, said: “On the one hand, Senator Portman’s extension to March 15 gives postal operators a little more time to get prepared.

“But with the full enforcement of the STOP Act now coinciding with the implementation of the EU’s ICS2 on the same day – March 15 – it is a real double whammy and presents posts with a hugely challenging eight weeks to ensure they are able to meet the higher threshold of advance electronic data.

“There is now the very real prospect of hundreds of millions of parcels being rejected into the US and EU from March 15.

“Those postal authorities which are fully prepared for the greater requirements around AED will not only be compliant but will also put themselves in the driving seat to capitalise on the continuing exponential growth in cross-border eCommerce trade.”

Martyn added: “This is not just about the postal authorities as the data starts with companies that are selling their goods internationally on their own websites or via marketplaces. Data needs to be complete and correct at the point of sale to ensure that the end customer receives the service they expect.”

Hurricane has developed a suite of APIs that meet the needs of postal operators, carriers, eCommerce merchants, marketplaces and platforms.

Hurricane’s Zephyr data enhancement API 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.

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

 

Hurricane in the news:

A Gathering Storm for Parcel Post Importers Into the US and Europe – Handy Shipping Guide

STOP Act and ICS2 “double whammy” to hit Postal operators on 15th March – Tamebay

 

Freightwaves highlights “speed and efficiency” of Hurricane technology

Freightwaves’ American Shipper has described how Hurricane’s technology “will foster speed and efficiency” and help postal operators meet the regulatory requirements for advanced electronic data (AED) from January 1, 2021.

The leading logistics media platform highlighted Hurricane’s game-changing Zephyr API solution in an article looking at the likely impact of the enforcement of the US STOP Act.

Freightwaves stated: “Effective Jan. 1, the U.S. government will refuse to clear international mail parcel shipments if electronic documentation allowing U.S. Customs officials to check for illegal opioids isn’t transmitted in advance of the shipment’s arrival. Despite having more than two years to prepare, the international postal supply chain will likely miss the deadline.”

According to the OIG, Posts in 135 countries and territories were still unable to send AED to the USPS as of March this year.

The USPS has made it clear that as of January 1, complete and valid customs clearance data will be mandatory – otherwise parcels will be refused and returned to origin.

Freightwaves went on: “Hurricane Commerce, an IT provider that specializes in cross-border e-commerce trade data and compliance technology, warned in a Nov. 16 communique that, unless the situation changes, hundreds of millions of parcels will be denied entry into the U.S. and may be returned to their origins. “This kind of volume will not only create immense logistical challenges but will also have a serious impact on air cargo capacity,” said Hurricane Commerce CEO Martyn Noble.

“Earlier this year, Hurricane Commerce launched a product called Zephyr, which it said allows bulk clearance facilities to check the accuracy of data and to receive additional pertinent or missing information all under one “quick-check” function. Zephyr can process over 700 million requests a day and can provide for real-time feedback with response times of 100 milliseconds, the company said.”

The article concluded: “There is cause for optimism. The UPU, U.S. and EU requirements will push international posts to accelerate AED compliance. USPS and other international posts are helping less-advanced nations by providing technical and financial support. New technology — such as that being offered by Hurricane Commerce — will foster speed and efficiency.”

Read the full article https://www.freightwaves.com/news/opioid-crackdown-deadline-for-international-mail-on-brink-of-miss

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/

Hurricane co-founders talk Brexit, STOP Act and other regulatory challenges in Postal Hub podcast

Hurricane CEO Martyn Noble and fellow co-founder David Spottiswood have been interviewed for the latest episode of the Postal Hub Podcast.

Ian Kerr interviewed Martyn and David to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing posts at the start of 2021.

They include the full enforcement of the US STOP Act, Brexit, ICS2 and the removal of the exemption from VAT on small parcels.

Martyn and David discuss at length not just the challenges posed by tightening regulations, but also the huge opportunities in cross-border eCommerce trade if the posts along with carriers, merchants and marketplaces get it right.

They also talk about the fine margins between great customer service and poor customer service.

Crucial to success is the provision of complete and valid customs clearance data which will help to ensure the smooth flow of goods around the globe.

You can listen to the podcast here – http://www.thepostalhub.com/podcasts/episode-219-brexit-stop-act-cross-border-ecommerce

Hundreds of millions of parcels into the US set to be rejected unless higher data quality threshold is met from January 1, 2021

Several hundred million mail parcels destined for the United States will be rejected when the requirement for a higher threshold of advance electronic data comes into force on January 1, 2021.

Posts have had it confirmed that as of that date any parcels arriving in the US with incorrect or incomplete data will be refused and returned to origin.

Hurricane Commerce, a specialist in cross-border eCommerce trade data and compliance technology, says the United States Postal Service (USPS) deadline leaves posts with a huge challenge to meet in just a few weeks.

The January 1 deadline marks the latest step in the enforcement of the US STOP Act which is primarily intended to crack down on the importation of illicit opioids into the country.

Martyn Noble, CEO of Hurricane Commerce, said: “The USPS is under pressure to fully implement the STOP Act and posts have been informed that the quality threshold for valid advance electronic data on mail parcels is being raised to a whole new level from the start of next year.

“From January 1, posts will be expected without exception to provide complete and valid data on all inbound mail parcels into the US.

“As things stand that means several hundred million parcels are likely to be rejected and eventually returned to their origin.

“This kind of volume will not only create immense logistical challenges but will also have a serious impact on air cargo capacity.

“Refused parcels will be returned to their country of origin which, in turn, will lead to mail parcel blockages of tens of millions of items. This problem will be exacerbated by the huge reduction in the number of planes flying due to Covid-19.

“The cost implications are significant in terms of warehousing, storage and returns, while there is also the issue of customer dissatisfaction and the increase in carbon footprint.”

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, a co-founder of Hurricane Commerce, said: “The USPS deadline is real and is just a few weeks away from being rigorously enforced.

“Our Zephyr solution has been created specifically to meet this challenge and can be activated and delivering enhanced data quickly.

“We know from customer results that Zephyr enables posts to achieve the required data quality threshold.

“Posts which are able to meet the rigorous higher standards being set by the USPS are likely to gain a competitive edge in the world of cross-border trade.”

Hurricane Commerce partners with Escher

Riposte Shipping 8.2 with Hurricane Commerce Simplifies Taxes, Duties, and Compliance

Escher, the global leader transforming postal operators and couriers, announced the launch of Riposte Shipping 8.2 with Hurricane. This latest release features seamless integration with Hurricane, providing Posts with full access to taxes, duties and compliance functionality, directly from within the Riposte Shipping application.

By 2022, cross-border e-commerce shipments will account for 22 percent of all e-commerce shipments of physical products, according to Statista. However today, there are many obstacles around international shipments that prevent Posts from delivering a positive experience for their customers. Landing cost sticker shock, confusion regarding required documentation and shipping restrictions, as well as the inability to screen all recipients for denied party status are just a few of these challenges.

Riposte Shipping 8.2 with Hurricane is the comprehensive solution to these problems, offering Posts cost transparency, improved shipping reliability, while making compliance convenient.

“Parcels and packets shipped across borders need an electronic ‘passport’ for safe and reliable travel and this is one way Riposte Shipping helps Posts,” said Nick Manolis, CEO, Escher. “The seamless integration of Hurricane with Riposte Shipping is the leading solution that streamlines the international shipping process, improving delivery success rates, free from delays or missing contents.”

“We are excited to be partnering with Escher on the launch of Riposte Shipping 8.2 and to be providing Posts with a range of industry-leading solutions covering data enhancement, duty and tax calculation, prohibited and restricted goods screening and denied parties screening,” explained Martyn Noble, CEO, Hurricane Commerce.

Last year, Escher partnered with Hurricane to bring its Riposte Taxes, Duties, and Compliance solution to market, helping Posts everywhere simplify the cross-border shipping process. Riposte Shipping 8.2 with Hurricane represents a deeper integration with Hurricane. With real-time updates from Hurricane, parcels leave post office rooms for international delivery with a significant reduction in returned shipments.

New features of Riposte Shipping 8.2 with Hurricane include:

Seamless Integration

  • Hurricane’s Taxes, Duties, and Compliance API provides full compliance functionality within Riposte Shipping.
  • On the clerk side, the UI validates or explains which errors are present, if any.
  • As the Hurricane database updates in real-time, compliance becomes faster and more accurate.
  • Integration can be triggered via specific destinations or service.
  • Individuals, countries, or items which are prohibited are flagged at the POS where the clerk receives notifications in real-time.
  • Insurance validations are also confirmed to prevent fraud or deliberate over coverage.

Product Classifications

  • Due to increased reliance on Posts for personal and commerce needs, improved product classifications are needed.
  • Riposte Shipping now provides compliance with the latest customs regulation and emerging security and customer requirements for EAD (electronic advanced data).
  • With Hurricane integration, Riposte Shipping allows for improved screening, faster shipments, and reduced issues at customs and border checkpoints.
  • The new product classifications functionality also allow for proper search protocols to identify proper product classification as well as classification codes required for customs.

Denied Party Screening

  • Riposte Shipping now includes Denied Party screening which is a validation process for carrying out checks on individuals, companies, or entities that are on a sanctioned list or watch.
  • Hurricane sources information from over 100 Denied Party lists including the UN, EU and OFAC.
  • Every time money changes hands, there is a responsibility to ensure that the goods are not destined for an individual, company, or entity on a government watch list.
  • Fines can be substantial – as can the damage to your reputation.

Product Restriction Screening

  • Hurricane can pre-screen shipments to avoid delays and inspections at customs and borders (e.g. animal products or firearms).
  • Users receive an updated list of restriction codes for both transportation and exports.
  • A cost breakdown of duties and taxes for delivery is also provided and these amounts reflect both the rate and the value of shipments, reducing surprise costs or unknown fees.

Duties, Taxes, and Fees

  • Riposte Shipping now allows for the pre-payment of duties and taxes so that the receiving party does not need to pay upon receipt.
  • The solution also provides a display of the customs declaration form with the breakdown of the taxes and duties for customer approval.

Integrated Customs Declaration Form

  • Shipment delays are reduced through an integrated customs process.
  • With Riposte Shipping, users have the ability to both preview and print CN23 forms.
  • With an electronic signature capture feature, signing forms and documentation is nearly instantaneous.

Product Availability
Existing customers should contact their account manager for more information. New customers are encouraged to get in touch with us for further information.

About Hurricane Commerce
Hurricane Commerce is brilliant at the boring – translating the complex into the simple.
Its solutions have been designed to give customers peace of mind about every cross-border eCommerce transaction.

Hurricane’s solutions are increasingly the choice of postal operators, eCommerce platforms, marketplaces and merchants and carriers.

Nothing moves without complete and valid data and increasing regulations and laws are providing huge challenges to anyone involved in cross-border eCommerce trade – challenges Hurricane and Escher are together helping to resolve. For more information about Hurricane, visit http://www.hurricanecommerce.com

About Riposte
The award-winning Riposte Platform provides Posts with an all-in-one customer engagement solution to support every step of the digital transformation journey. Posts can bypass unnecessary complexity and expense with Riposte and eliminate the trouble of evaluating, purchasing, and integrating multiple solutions. The Riposte Platform comes with out-of-the-box solutions for counter service, mobile integration, data analytics, retail worker onboarding, customer survey generation, integration of third-party agents, facilitation of a pick-up, drop-off network, and more.

About Escher
Escher is transforming postal operators and couriers worldwide, enabling them to engage today’s digitally savvy customers across all points of engagement. With Escher’s unique, purpose-built customer engagement platform, Posts can drive superior customer experience, with greater speed and better economics. With over 35 customers, Escher works with the most innovative Posts in the world. Their largest customer carries 47% of the world’s post. Escher’s technology gets used to serve over a billion citizens with 350,000 points of engagement globally. For more information about Escher, visit http://www.eschergroup.com

Ian's profile inside the Hurricane swirl logo

Q&A with Ian Venner, Hurricane Commerce’s Chief Technology Officer

Ground-breaking technology is at the heart of Hurricane Commerce’s solutions to ensure frictionless cross-border eCommerce trade. We recently caught up with CTO Ian Venner to find out more about how Hurricane’s solutions first came about and how they continue to evolve to meet the needs of customers.

What is your background, and how did you come to be involved in Hurricane?

‘Diverse’ would be the best word to describe my background. From designing decryption systems for the birth of satellite television, to working with all the major Hollywood Studios, to helping Samsung launch a new range of mobile phones, it has never been dull.

I first worked with Martyn Noble and Ashley Dexter, our CEO and CFO, around 8 years ago where I was brought into the online ticketing platform they set up to get the systems to work as they were supposed to.

After this successful project, we went our separate ways and I moved back into consultancy. Then a little over 4 years ago, I got a call from Martyn asking whether I was interested in a new project that he was considering setting up. After a few months of refining the idea and getting more information we set the company up at the end of 2016 and I joined full time at the beginning of 2017.

What is it about Hurricane’s technology that makes it so exciting?

One of the key things that attracted me to Hurricane was the blank piece of paper from a technology and personnel perspective. No legacy systems to deal with and no incumbent staff. This allowed us to custom build a team and engineer a solution that is not just fit for purpose now but is ready for our clients’ future requirements.

Technology gadgets

We are pushing at the edge of what is possible from a technology perspective, utilising existing technologies in new and innovative ways, and developing new technology when existing technologies were not good enough.

Why was it so important to build a strong and diverse team that can pull experience from Banking, Betting and Music backgrounds?

With the tech team being such a big part of Hurricane, it was important to not be too restrictive in how we built the team.

Being able to attract the best people without being geographically constrained was key to us being able to build the team and the solutions that Hurricane required.

Within the board members I am the odd one out, not being from the logistics or postal industries. I did, however, have my first eCommerce website in 1992! It means we are not constrained and can expand our thinking outside the box.

As a team we have worked in wide and varied industries and for well-known names including Universal Music Group, Adidas, Cable and Wireless, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Littlewoods Football Pools, Deloitte, Samsung, Sony Pictures, Ministry of Sound, General Motors, LG and all the major players in the UK banking sector.

This brings experience in diverse industries and with varied systems. It also means we have all worked in high volume, high availability systems, many with very tight regulation or stringent security, all of which is key to our global clients.

How have Hurricane’s solutions developed from the initial concept to current day?

The first version of Hurricane’s API was known as the Landed Cost Engine and was a simple duty and tax calculator with a simple classification search engine. This was quickly superseded by v2 known as the Landed Cost and Compliance Engine. We added prohibited and restricted goods checking and denied parties screening. It was at this time that we created Bluestone.

Bluestone is our deep learning Natural Language Processing (NLP), Artificial Intelligence (AI) classification service. Too many companies use the term AI now when all they have is a heuristic or smart search system, with some parameters that can be tweaked. This is not AI. Bluestone learns as it classifies and gets better, ever refining its capabilities. It is therefore a true AI.

At the beginning of 2020 we rebranded LCCE to ‘Aura’ and released v3 of the solution. This added more flexibility for our clients, and allowed calculations and lookups to take place without the need to pre-classify items. We have just released v3.1 of Aura, which adds translation, IP based destination lookup and additional features around delivery method and flexibility.

At the end of 2019, I started looking at building a greater than 6-digit classification service. This was initially a 2-stage process, so you would get a HS6 code and then use that to select a suitable 10-digit code. This was the initial foundations for Zephyr. The final pieces of making an automated suitable 10-digit solution dropped into place when I was reading a research paper on genome sequencing late one night. Fuelled by caffeine something clicked, and I made a connection.

I spent the next few weeks writing and playing with 4 distinct algorithms which are now at the heart of Zephyr.

Why is Zephyr such a game changer?

Not coming from the industry means I am not constrained by industry thinking. Being told that something is not possible is always a catalyst for me to prove people wrong.

My career is littered with similar instances, where what has emerged has in several occasions gone on to become the norm in that industry. From automotive manufacture to comparative quotation systems, to live TV on mobile devices (I did it first over 2.5G!).

This is also the case with Zephyr. Zephyr fills a gap the market didn’t really know it had, with a solution that was not thought possible.

Zephyr ensures that data associated with high volume traffic can be checked, validated and completed and the flow of parcels and packages keeps moving. What was previously manual processes can now be automated for a high percentage of transactions.

Zephyr also identifies poor descriptions and mismatches between HS6 and descriptions. With the advent of legislation to ensure that all goods are correctly declared, Zephyr now provides a real-time way of doing this.

What drives Hurricane’s Innovation?

While our customers play a big part in the evolution of our products and services, not being constrained by conventional thinking also has a big role in our R&D. From simplifying the integration of our API to bringing new features to it or making them even quicker, we genuinely never stop innovating.

For me, we need to be ahead of the curve in everything we do; whether that’s systems architecture, functionality or simplicity of integration. We have innovations coming in the next 6 months that we know none of our competitors have. Some of these will mean a change in how people view certain cross border requirements. As legislation becomes tighter, we will make it easier to be compliant and actually exceed those legislative requirements.

What makes Hurricane’s solutions different to the competition?

We think differently. We know that real-time is what is needed. However, our solutions go beyond that and are all written to be blisteringly quick.

From talking to people in the industry, we know that our slowest call (the AI driven Bluestone classification) is faster than our competitors’ fastest call. Our calls are so quick as to be not noticed in the time it takes to load a web page.

We are ready for massive scale. Each of our global nodes can deal with a minimum of over 2.4 billion calls a month and scaling each node is literally the click of a button, should we ever need to make more calls than that.

Lyngsoe Systems and Hurricane Commerce join forces to ensure frictionless cross-border trade

Two companies specialising in cross-border trade technologies have teamed up to help postal operators prepare for a wave of new regulations coming into force over the coming months.

Among them are the implementation of ICS2 (Import Control System 2), requiring entry summary declarations on all parcels and packets entering the EU, and the EU’s VAT modernisation package and launch of the Import One Stop Shop (IOSS).

Lyngsoe Systems is offering its customers Hurricane Commerce’s Zephyr data enhancement solution to complement its own Manual Imaging Capture Station (MICS), which provides a scalable solution for optimising import, customs and VAT collection.

MICS removes bottlenecks by separating data entry from the physical handling of items, automates data capturing and registration, raises throughput utilising existing floorspace more effectively and lowers the cycle time of import and clearance.

Hurricane’s Zephyr API enables the efficient checking and completion of cross-border shipment pre-advices. It identifies invalid descriptions, returns a status code for each imported consignment, and includes a product description, HS6 code and, if required, 8 and 10-digit import and export codes.

Zephyr can process over 700 million requests per day with 85% accuracy and achieves average response times of 100 milliseconds.

Villads Thomsen, CEO of Lyngsoe Systems, said: “A smooth cross-border eCommerce process calls for combining the different data sources readily available today.

“Lyngsoe Systems is excited to complement our MICS platform with eCommerce data analytics from Hurricane to achieve a frictionless cross-border trade.”

Martyn Noble, CEO of Hurricane Commerce, said: “We are delighted that Lyngsoe Systems has chosen our game-changing Zephyr solution to complement its own industry-leading offering to postal authorities.

“Our solutions are helping postal operators, carriers, logistics providers and online retailers capitalise on the huge growth opportunities in eCommerce while staying compliant in the face of ever-increasing global regulations and laws.”

Lyngsoe Systems and Hurricane are hosting a one-hour webinar, “Data Enhancement and Machine Learning in Office of Exchange” on Thursday, November 5th (2pm GMT/ 3pm CET). To register visit https://lyngsoesystems.com/mics2020/

Hurricane featured in Parcel & Post Technology International

Hurricane Commerce is featured in the September issue of Parcel & Post Technology International magazine.

Our co-founder and CEO Martyn Noble was interviewed about the latest trends in cross-border eCommerce trade.

The industry is having to adapt quickly to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by a swathe of new laws and regulations coming into force over the coming months. Among them are Brexit, EU VAT modernisation and the Import Control System 2 (ICS2).

In a wide-ranging article, Martyn says: “Nothing will move without data. A few years back the post industry was mainly concerned with first mile and last mile efficiencies whereas now it’s actually around first file.

“The timelines are not going to change. Compliance is not optional, and if you want to compete in this market, you have to do something about it.”

Martyn added: “There is potential for Posts and delivery companies to collaborate with smart technology providers to develop new services that help to differentiate them from rivals.”

To read the full article click https://secure.viewer.zmags.com/publication/b47bed6a#/b47bed6a/32