What’s your best importing or exporting advice?

What’s your best importing or exporting advice?

In order to maximize efficiencies throughout the supply chain, logistics should be viewed from 30,000 feet above and decisions should be made by considering the entire process. Imports, exports, and all modes of transportation are reliant on the connecting nodes. It’s an ecosystem where sustainability is key.

—Lindsey Shellman
Chief Commercial Officer, WIN

Understand the macro view of the global economy. As a young professional in logistics, I remember being educated on the timing of when I needed product to land in the United States. I almost launched a promotion right after the Chinese New Year, but thankfully I worked with great partners who helped me understand that the product would never arrive by the date I needed. Understanding the global economy, tariffs, etc., could truly save you significant time and money.

—Aaron Galer
SVP, Strategic Partners, Arrive Logistics

Have a plan to export your product:


  • People. Can someone from your team drive this program?
  • Capacity. Do you have enough capacity to meet the market’s demands?
  • Packaging. Is there a legal requirement for labeling, or does the label need to be translated?
  • Knowledge. Know your customer and market.


—Bryan Blalock
Chief Operating Officer
Container Maintenance Corporation

When establishing a compliance program, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with what you have left to do. Take a moment to remember where you have been and how much you have accomplished. Progress takes time; every step forward is a step in the right direction.

—Michelle Frennier
Director, Solution Consulting
BluJay Solutions

The best advice I received around exporting and importing is sometimes it’s best to stick with the tried-and-true technologies, such as barcoding.


Barcode technology is 69 years old, but it’s capable of creating a single digital environment to generate more efficiencies when it’s integrated with ERP, and it provides improved inventory visibility and accuracy while reducing costs.



This is not an argument against new, emerging technologies; it is a reminder for organizations to investigate all available options to make their operations more efficient. Barcoding is a great example of “old-fashioned” tech that remains a reliable, staple tool in warehouse and inventory management.

—Scott Deakins
COO, Deacom

Only promise the customer what you know you can do well. This advice not only ensures the quality of service you can offer, but is also a gold standard to safeguarding your customer base during uncertain times.

—Eduardo Rey
Managing Director, Air & Sea Logistics
Dachser Peru

The best advice I’ve ever received is the simplest: Always adhere to and comply with import and export trade regulations. Some shippers have historically won business by using non-compliant, “creative” ways to import or export goods. Ultimately, these shippers have lost the business and their reputation in those markets.

—Ronald Kleijwegt
VP Global Sales & Managing Director, EMEA, Blume Global

As a management trainee at APL (now a CMA CGM subsidiary), I was told to anticipate and plan for things going wrong because they always will. Pay attention to cargo loading and delivery; they are critical and complicated parts of the journey.


Focus on the three most important elements for successful shipping execution: 1) planning, 2) planning, 3) planning.

—Greg Tuthill
CCO, SeaCube Containers

Compliance that operates at a granular level pays dividends. To be able to focus on raw productivity, compliance should be automated with technology. Digital workplace platforms that create training, communication, and task audit trails help enterprises manage compliance efficiently, boosting productivity.

—Steven Kramer
CEO, WorkJam

Identify and leverage strong partners who know the daily challenges of this business. From origin pickup to customs and duties to drayage, the import logistics process is extremely complicated. Identifying the correct partners and freight forwarders can turn a very complicated process into a task that feels almost effortless.

—Sean Mueller
VP of Business Development
Symbia Logistics

As we face 2021 after an especially turbulent year, my best advice is to plan in advance and plan for delays. The variables we regularly face for international in-transit shipments are many, not only on the sea but also once it arrives on land. Work with someone who is experienced and proactive in all modes to execute your shipments even when things don’t go as planned.

—Liberty Baugher
Manager, International Department
Sunset Transportation

My best advice: Get insurance. Crazy things happen that are outside of your control and you want to be protected.

—Sarah Scudder
President & Chief Revenue Officer
Real Sourcing Network

There’s no barcode on a barrel of crude. It’s going to take a combination of systems and data to really cover all cargoes that are imported and exported globally; containers are pretty mature but bulk cargoes are still a vast source of opportunity in logistics.

—William Fox
Chief Product Officer
Data Gumbo

Always be proactive. Operate like you’re playing chess: Think and act multiple steps ahead in the supply chain, coordinating all related parties to the transaction to ensure minimal disruption and focus on customer requirements and committed service.

—Mollie Bailey
Vice President, International

If you are importing products from overseas and relying on the manufacturer to pick the freight provider you lose control. You pay high import costs at destination but, more importantly, if the freight charges are included in the cost of the products and not broken out on the commercial invoice, you are paying taxes and duties on freight.


So always make sure the freight costs are a separate line item on the invoice from the company you are buying your products or raw materials from.

—Sarah Barnes-Humphrey
Host, Let’s Talk Supply Chain

Have a good contact that has direct contact with the customs office and can give you real updates to what is happening at the ports. Then my next advice would be: Make sure you always know the latest anti-dumping lawsuits.

—Rachel Liaw
Co-founder & CEO
Fuse Inventory

Pay attention to terms of sale. While working as a young manager of transportation for an industrial shipper, we found our sales team offering delivered costs to clients, while we were only paying CIF (cost, insurance, and freight) port of destination. A mentor-suggested deep dive unveiled the significance of training your sales team on Incoterms.

—Russ Romine
VP of Transportation,
LEGACY Supply Chain Services

Have a great answer to a good question?

Be sure to participate next month. We want to know:

What is the supply chain buzzword of 2021 and why?


We’ll publish some answers. Tell us at [email protected] or tweet us @ILMagazine #ILgoodquestion



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