Emirates Post picks Hurricane Commerce as data partner to drive global eCommerce growth

Emirates Post has chosen Hurricane Commerce as the data partner to support its global eCommerce expansion strategy.

The postal operator for the UAE has invested heavily in its international parcels business with the ambition of becoming a seamless gateway and strategic logistics hub for cross-border eCommerce traffic.

Hurricane will be supporting Emirates Post across various parts of its business, but with a major focus on providing best-in-class data solutions for its International Business Unit.

Emirates Post’s objective is to develop a global B2C parcel business leveraging the UAE as a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) hub.

The partnership with Hurricane also fits with Emirates Post’s ongoing investment in digitization across all of its systems and processes to ensure the best possible customer experience.

Hurricane’s Zephyr solution ensures that shipments have the right data – including HS6 codes, product descriptions and 8- and 10- digit import and export codes – to pass smoothly through customs and on to the end consumer.

Meanwhile, Hurricane’s Aura product covers the three critical cross-border areas of duty and tax calculation, prohibited and restricted goods screening and denied parties screening.

Major regulatory challenges including the US STOP Act and, from July 1, the EU VAT Package and introduction of the Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS) mean that the requirement for complete and valid parcel data has never been greater.

Peter Somers, CEO of Emirates Post, said: “The expansion of our international eCommerce parcels business is one of our top priorities and to achieve this requires working with best-in-class partners.

“We were impressed by the experience and knowledge of the Hurricane team and the quality of the data solutions they have developed.

“The partnership with Hurricane represents an important part of our cross-border eCommerce growth strategy.”

Martyn Noble, CEO of Hurricane Commerce, said: “We are delighted to have been selected by Emirates Post as its data partner.

“The team at Emirates Post are innovators in the Middle East and have exciting plans to become the region’s global eCommerce hub.”

David Spottiswood, Co-Founder of Hurricane Commerce, said: “Emirates Post recognises the importance of harnessing data solutions not only as a means of ensuring seamless cross-border trade, but also to provide its customers with the best possible experience.

“In a world of ever-increasing rules and regulations governing global eCommerce trade, such an approach has never been more important.”


Hurricane in the media:

Post and Parcel – New partnership supports efforts in enhancing UAE’s position as a global logistics hub

Air Cargo Week – Emirates Post picks Hurricane to drive global e-Commerce plans

Transport & Logistics Middle East – Emirates Post Picks Hurricane Commerce as Data Partner

The new cross-border eCommerce reality

Hurricane co-founders Martyn Noble and David Spottiswood teamed up for their latest Postal Hub Podcast with Ian Kerr.

They reflect on the impact to date of major regulatory changes including Brexit and the US STOP Act and look ahead to the likely impact of the EU VAT Package & IOSS coming on July 1.

The posts and carriers which harness the best cross-border data solutions are the ones which will prosper in the world of global eCommerce.

To listen to the podcast, click here:

Hurricane’s Zephyr Bulk Upload solution goes live on Royal Mail website

Royal Mail’s online retailer customers can now access Hurricane’s innovative Zephyr Bulk Upload Portal to enhance their data.

The portal is simple to use allowing merchants to upload their product list file and receive back in lightning quick time accurate HS6 codes and 10-digit import and export codes as required.

The solution has been developed by Hurricane to meet the growing compliance pressures facing online retailers and marketplaces.

Regulatory challenges so far this year have included Brexit and the US STOP Act.

The introduction of the EU VAT Package on July 1 – including the launch of the Import One Stop Shop (IOSS) – means that complete and valid product shipment data has never been more essential.

Using the Zephyr portal means:

  • Ensuring your products have complete and accurate data;
  • A cost-effective solution to process thousands of lines of product data;
  • Peace of mind on every cross-border eCommerce shipment;
  • High levels of customer experience.

Martyn Noble, CEO of Hurricane Commerce, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Royal Mail to provide their retailer customers with our best-in-class bulk upload data enhancement service.”

Royal Mail’s website states: “Zephyr enables established and newer e-retailers to capitalise on the huge opportunities for successful international eCommerce, while also staying compliant.

“It’s currently the only data enhancing solution of its kind available to e-retailers – designed to provide peace of mind for sellers and keep customers happy too – by ensuring they receive their goods without unnecessary delay.”


Hurricane in the media:

Tamebay – Hurricane Commerce Zephyr Bulk Upload goes live with Royal Mail

Prime Vision teams up with Hurricane Commerce to provide complete cross-border data solution

Prime Vision is partnering with Hurricane Commerce to provide customers with a complete end-to-end data enhancement service on cross-border eCommerce parcels and packets.

New regulations and laws are providing huge challenges to any business involved in international eCommerce.

And the biggest requirement is for quality data on parcels including complete and valid product descriptions and HS6 codes.

The partnership between Prime Vision and Hurricane will see the integration of their respective technologies, providing customers with a high-quality service that meets the growing requirements of customs authorities for enhanced data.

Prime Vision is a market leader in Computer Vision Integration in the global logistics sector for postal, parcel, eCommerce and airports.

The company’s solutions include sorting decision systems, OCR, barcode reading, video-coding and robotics.

Hurricane’s technology includes its Zephyr data enhancement tool and its Aura solution which covers the three critical cross-border areas of duty and tax calculation, prohibited and restricted goods screening and denied parties screening.

David Spottiswood, Co-founder of Hurricane, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Prime Vision and to be able to make our data enhancement software available to its customers.

“The regulatory landscape for anyone involved in cross-border eCommerce trade is changing dramatically.

“This started with Brexit in January, but since March 15, postal operators and their customers have also had to deal with the enforcement of the US STOP Act and the EU’s ICS2. Further major change comes in July with the introduction of the EU’s VAT reforms.

“All of these changes have one common denominator – the need for data of the highest calibre including accurate product descriptions, HS6 codes and country of origin.

Dirk Van Lammeren, Prime Vision’s Commercial Director, said: “We are excited to have teamed up with Hurricane Commerce to offer customers end-to-end data enhancement solutions.

“Postal operators, carriers and retailers are having to adapt quickly to the changing regulations to ensure they are compliant.

“Hurricane’s and Prime Vision’s solutions reinforce each other and together we will enable our customers to achieve frictionless cross-border eCommerce.”


Hurricane in the media:

Post & Parcel – Prime Vision and Hurricane Commerce team up to meet the demand for high calibre data

Air Cargo Week – Hurricane Commerce teams up with Prime Vision

Tamebay – Complete cross-border data solution from Prime Vision & Hurricane Commerce

Parcel and Postal Technology International – Prime Vision partners with Hurricane Commerce to provide complete cross-border data solution

Apex Insight – Prime Vision and Hurricane Commerce in partnership

CEP Research – Prime Vision integrates Hurricane Commerce cross-border data solutions

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

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:

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.