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5 Proven Ways Customs SaaS Improves Efficiency In Global Trade

Five ways in which customs SaaS streamlines global trade

Customs clearance processes can be significantly inefficient when handled manually. The processing of the sheer volume of paperwork required for each shipment can be slow without automation.

Moreover, manual data entry for customs declarations and related documents is prone to errors. Even minor inaccuracies can cause delays since Customs authorities will need to verify and correct the discrepancies.

Additionally, without real-time tracking and notifications, keeping up with the ever-changing customs regulations can be overwhelming, and businesses may react slowly to requests from Customs authorities or to issues that arise during the clearance process.

Equipped with features like cloud storage, electronic filing, digital documentation, real-time tracking and notifications, and multi-stakeholder collaboration, customs software as a service (SaaS) can significantly streamline the entire clearance procedure and simplify the complexity of import/export operations.

Continue reading to discover what exactly customs SaaS is and how it can make the entire import/export process a breeze!

Table of Contents
1. What is customs SaaS?
2. 5 ways customs SaaS streamlines import/export operations
3. Maximize efficiency in customs clearance with SaaS solutions

What is customs SaaS?

Customs SaaS is a cloud-based service that simplifies customs clearance

Customs SaaS (Software as a Service) is a cloud-based solution that automates and streamlines the entire process of customs clearance, including filing declarations, making duty payments, and ensuring adherence to trade agreements and regulations.

This type of customs software is typically offered on a subscription basis, hosted remotely, and made accessible to customers over the internet. As a result, businesses can manage the complex tasks associated with importing and exporting goods simply through a web browser, eliminating the need to install or maintain any hardware or software locally.

5 ways customs SaaS streamlines import/export operations

Five ways customs SaaS streamlines importexport operations

Using customs software goes beyond simply eliminating manual tasks. It involves managing classifications, overseeing origin processes, and conducting compliance checks, all within a single web-based platform. Below are five ways by which customs SaaS solutions can automate and streamline the import/export processes:

Document management and automated data entry

Centralized and automated document management

A significant advantage of SaaS solutions is their ability to centralize the storage of all customs documentation, making it easily accessible and updatable. Instead of searching through stacks of paperwork to locate a specific export declaration or commercial invoice, all customs documentation is stored in a centralized, cloud-based repository.

Companies and customs brokers can quickly locate documents using search functions, which can filter by various parameters such as date, shipment number, or clients. Moreover, when documents need updates or corrections, changes can be applied to multiple entries at once and in real time, making the updates instantly accessible to all stakeholders.

Furthermore, customs management software can automatically fill in and update forms and recurring paperwork. For example, shipping companies can create templates for typical entries to generate new customs declarations for similar shipments automatically. Additionally, most customs SaaS solutions employ OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technologies to scan physical documents and convert them into digital format.

Real-time updates on trade regulations and tariffs

Real-time updates on trade regulations and tariffs

Companies engaged in international trade certainly know that understanding and adhering to the customs regulations of all the countries they are trading with can be daunting and time-consuming.

Thankfully, most customs compliance software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions maintain expansive databases that are continuously updated with the latest changes in local customs regulations and international trade agreements. Businesses receive immediate notifications about any relevant changes in the current rules or tariff rates that might affect their import/export activities.

Moreover, customs SaaS solutions automatically calculate the estimated amount of customs duties and taxes payable for import/export operations based on the information of the shipped goods, such as product classification, value, and origin.

Since the calculations are based on the latest tariff rates and agreements, companies can avoid potential overpayments or underpayments that might result in redundant costs or penalties. Additionally, certain software for customs brokers manages and automates miscellaneous customs expenses, including bonded warehouse charges, port fees, insurance costs, and more.

Connectivity with Customs authorities

Customs SaaS solutions provide connectivity with customs authorities

Before the advent of e-customs and digital systems, paperwork submission was a tedious process, often involving long waits in queues at Customs offices or navigating through postal services.

What’s worse is that once the paperwork is submitted, tracking the progress of documents and their status in the process could also be challenging. If an error or omission were detected afterward, this often resulted in longer clearance times, customs fines, or even the rejection of goods.

Today, customs SaaS solutions are directly connected to the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) systems (or equivalent) of Customs authorities in multiple countries around the globe, making it easier to manage international trade compliance through a single interface.

As an example, businesses importing goods into the United States can employ customs SaaS software that provides a direct link with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) via its Automated Commercial Environment (ACE).

This connectivity allows companies to electronically submit the import and export data required by the CBP and dozens of other U.S. partner government agencies. Furthermore, businesses can maintain constant visibility into the status of required shipment documents, entry summaries, and cargo releases.

Built-in collaborative workflow capabilities

SaaS solutions provide built-in collaborative workflow capabilities

It cannot be overstated how much import/export and logistics operations efficiency is improved by having a centralized, cloud-based platform that allows for real-time updates, document sharing, and communication.

Just imagine a situation where a shipper in Germany is sending goods to a consignee in Canada. A customs broker in Canada needs to manage the customs clearance. A customs SaaS provides a web-accessible interface that enables the German shipper to upload necessary shipping documents, such as the commercial invoice and packing list.

Once uploaded, the Canadian customs broker is immediately notified and can begin working on the customs declaration process. They can access these documents to confirm their compliance with Canadian import regulations, all without needing to directly contact the shipper or wait for emails to be exchanged. Similarly, the consignee is alerted when the goods clear customs and are ready for pickup.

Before you worry about the exposure of sensitive information and documents to third parties, rest assured that SaaS solutions implement role-based access controls to secure data. For instance, the customs broker can have permission to edit and submit customs declarations based on the shipper’s documents but cannot access the consignee’s financial arrangements with the shipper.

Scalability and cloud-based accessibility

SaaS solutions provide scalability and cloud-based accessibility

We cannot conclude this blog post on how customs SaaS software improves the efficiency and accuracy of import/export processes without mentioning the defining feature of SaaS that sets it apart from other customs software solutions: its cloud-based accessibility. This allows for effortless remote data access from anywhere in the world.

Take, for example, a freight forwarder with an operations team that is spread across the globe; they will need to maintain coordination among team members in various time zones to guarantee continuous, 24-hour operations. With the use of customs SaaS software, team members can access the same information, update shipment statuses, and manage customs declarations from wherever they are.

Besides remote access, SaaS solutions also make use of elastic cloud resources that can easily be scaled up or down based on demand. Consider an e-commerce business that specializes in seasonal goods; it might see substantial fluctuations in sales volume throughout the year. During slower months, its import/export operations could be minimal.

However, as the holiday season approaches, there could be a significant increase in raw materials import and finished goods export. A customs SaaS solution can scale down during these quieter periods to save on costs, and then quickly scale up during the peak months to manage the surge in customs declarations, duty management, and compliance checks without needing physical infrastructure upgrades.

Maximize efficiency in customs clearance with SaaS solutions

Ultimately, adopting customs SaaS solutions for managing customs clearance and import/export operations will lead to shorter clearance time, reduced operational costs, improved data compliance, and paperless processes.

To get started, a simple web search will allow businesses to find a broad range of custom SaaS solutions like MIC, CargoWise, and CANOPUS. These solutions vary from affordable ones, which offer basic features such as document management, filing capabilities, and simple shipment tracking, to more sophisticated, globally connected solutions that provide complete automation of customs processes.

Large logistics and supply chain companies, such as freight forwarders and third-party logistics providers (3PLs), might even employ a software tool like the Alibaba Cloud SaaS Accelerator to develop and deploy their own scalable and secure customs SaaS applications.

To learn more about the automation of customs procedures, take a look at how customs software solutions are now integrating artificial intelligence to streamline the entire customs brokerage workflow!

Looking for a logistics solution with competitive pricing, full visibility, and readily accessible customer support? Check out the Alibaba.com Logistics Marketplace today.

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