The key features you need when looking for export software

Comprehensive export software is a vital part of any international shipping business. Having the right technology is critical in ensuring operations are as streamlined and cost-effective as possible. Without the right solutions to make export management easier, firms could face a range of additional barriers to trade, from delays at ports of entry while the right paperwork is located, to large customs bills or fines for mis-classified shipments.

But while there are a wide range of export management offerings available, you'll need to ensure the solution you choose is capable of handling the entire shipment process. Therefore, it must contain a few critical features in order to make your operations as easy as possible.

Why invest in export software?

Effective export software is essential to the smooth running of any international trading business. While you could make declarations manually or rely on third-party brokers to handle the necessary paperwork for you, this will quickly prove to be a cumbersome, expensive and time-consuming solution.

The key benefits of export software

There are a wide range of advantages to deploying export software. However, the main benefits can essentially be broken down into four key categories. These are:

  • Time: Using software allows you to gather the correct information and make essential declarations much more quickly than would otherwise be possible.
  • Accuracy: Export management tools greatly reduce the risk of making mistakes in classifications or rules of origin calculations, ensuring you always remain compliant with global trading regulations.
  • Productivity: As well as being faster, the right technology reduces the amount of manual data entry, searching and supplier management you have to deal with, freeing up your day for more important tasks.
  • Security: Using export software gives you peace of mind that all your shipments are correct and will not be subject to any delays at their destination, while full auditability and traceability within the system enables you to maintain complete visibility at all times.

A global solution

It's also hugely useful to choose a single solution that offers a global approach, with tools and modules covering every major economy. While you could look at country-specific solutions, having everything within a single system also improves productivity and will also make it much easier when it comes to expanding operations or seeking out new supply chains, as you'll be able to add any new lines without the need to reinvest in additional software.

Meeting classification requirements

A central aspect of any export software must be the ability to quickly and accurately assign the correct product classifications to any exports. This is important for several reasons. As well as meeting compliance requirements for statistical purposes, these product classifications are vital in identifying any goods that may be subject to preferential treatment or additional export controls, such as quotas or extra screening.

Ensuring accuracy and efficiency

Good export management software should be able to streamline classification activities by automating the process wherever possible. This means tools to assign the correct classification codes automatically, as well as store, classify and validate products against national customs tariffs. Full integration with ERP systems is also a must-have.

Your export software also needs to take into account special customs regimes, such as free trade zones and processing trade areas that may have their own unique import and export requirements.

Meeting global auditing requirements

Automated reporting of exports to the relevant authorities also needs to be a key part of any export management tool. The ability to connect directly with digital platforms around the world, such as the US' Automated Export System will make accurate reporting easier.

At the same time, the software solution needs to maintain a fully auditable trail of all activities and decisions for each item. This will be vital in the event there are queries or disputes with customs authorities.

Ensuring correct rules of origin

Rules of origin requirements are also important to get right. Correctly reporting where goods originate from is critical if businesses are to take advantage of zero-tariff free trade agreements, as these provisions usually have specified minimum requirements in order to qualify for tariff-free access to markets. Ensuring this is accurate is critical when exporting goods between countries with such agreements in order to avoid paying the wrong amount.

Calculating complex goods

Businesses shipping manufactured goods are likely to face particularly complex rules of origin requirements. For example, items such as automobiles and electronics that depend on large, global supply chains may be particularly challenging, though any goods where the ultimate origin is unclear may also be tricky to deal with.

The ability to see at a glance which components come from where and calculate their percentage of the overall value of the item will be essential if firms are to remain compliant with rules of origin requirements and take advantage of zero-tariff incentives. Good export software will be able to do this automatically, as well as make automatic adjustments if supply chains change.

Supplier declaration management

Automated supplier management tools are another key component of rules of origin solutions. The ability to connect directly with suppliers' ERP systems allows for the automatic collection of critical data, while export software should be able to make automated or manual requests for data based on the relevant standards via email, web or paper-based methods, depending on the requirements of each jurisdiction. Any changes made in these declarations must also be automatically fed back into origin calculations to avoid errors due to outdated information.

Ensuring the right export classifications is especially important if you're shipping items that fall under 'dual use' classifications - that is, those that may have military applications in addition to commercial uses. For exports from the US or the EU, there may be a range of additional restrictions on the destinations and recipients to which these items can be shipped.

When categorizing such items, selecting the wrong classification can lead to significant problems, as the penalties for breaching export control rules are high. However, a good export software solution can eliminate the risk of errors by comparing all goods to lists of export control regulations and embargo lists. Some classifications can be complex as they may contain components that fall into several categories, so having the right tools can help you navigate this and provide peace of mind.

It can also determine any additional licensing requirements you will need before making a shipment and provide a transparent, fully auditable trail of the entire workflow for reporting purposes.

In addition to this, businesses must also ensure that they are not shipping items to individuals or entities that have sanctions imposed against them. This is not always an easy task, as there is no one comprehensive list to consult. However, good export management software will be able to automate these processes, screening names against denied party lists and immediately blocking any consignments in the event of a positive match. This also ensures you're always working from the latest lists.

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