Shipping has never been easy or too reliable. It’s simply unfair to blame all shipping issues on COVID-19 or the present European crisis.

However, that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to tell your customers “I can’t help it.” There are ways to deal with a number of deterrents and multiple tools that can help you simplify the complex shipping process.

Sadly, not much is being done on either the local- or global scale. This year won’t be much better than the two previous ones, according to More Than Shipping.

The source documents the challenges: No new capacities are being introduced to Trans-Pacific trade in the period of 2022-2023. Low schedule reliability is one of the underlying causes of continued congestion in Asia and the U.S. Experts predict that it will lead to 15%-25% of capacity getting pulled out of the market as a result.

Port congestion on the U.S. West Coast will likely continue and cause more blank sailings for the West Coast, creating more pressure on the pricing and space for the West Coast;
Carriers’ new plans to add capacity to the U.S. East Coast may not be as fruitful, as U.S. Gulf and Florida ports won’t receive any new capacity according to carriers. Many allocations for the U.S. Gulf and Florida are currently being reduced by carriers.

Knowing all this, let’s see what can be done to make shipping more reliable generally.

Use the Apps!
New technologies can help with various shipping issues. A good load tracking app alone can make a whole lot of a difference, so find one that suits your needs best.
As regards shipments, plan well ahead and think of backup options.

Common sense dictates the following tips:
- Plan well ahead for busy seasons (holidays and similar)
- Prioritize time-sensitive shipments
- Check out which of your carriers have the fewest delays and put focus on them
- Use digital freight software that can forecast delivery times

Track your containers’ delivery status digitally so that you can address potential problems in a timely manner

Hot to Simplify Shipping
If you’re wondering if anything else can be done to simplify shipping, which can be way too complex for overseas packages, the correct answer is — yes.

Nothing that you do will ever solve the global shipping issues, but you can simplify each step of the process and have a backup plan handy.

The most efficient solutions are usually the simplest. E.g., switching to air freight in times of crisis is one option, but it is an expensive one!

You may, however, track which companies have had the lowest issue rate in the past and stick to them.

Another necessary app would be dispatch software; also make sure to perform precise inventory management continually. A cloud-based inventory will help with complex inventory management.

Other notable trends include:
-IoT for asset management
-Cloud-based software for remote work
-Artificial intelligence for business automation
-Inventory management software for supply chains
-Digital procurement platforms for end-to-end visibility

On the matter of the latter, lack of visibility is one of the biggest issues in this regard. This is not rocket science, either. With the supply chains getting more globalized, there are more steps to track. Just think about all factors: cargo, ships, destinations, weather conditions, etc. to get an idea of how complex international shipping really is. Pretty much only tier-one suppliers can be predictable!

That being said, forget about manual methodologies (Excel sheets are a huge no-go!) and rely on digital procurement platforms, which specifically target end-to-end visibility and create visual breakdowns of the current rate sheets.

Dealing With Three Common Shipping Conundrums
The “big three” issues of the shipping industry are rising costs, security risks, and environmental regulations. All of them are difficult, but not impossible, to tackle.

Rising Costs
Rising costs lead to higher costs of operations, which, finally, affect end-user prices. Not to mention that the ever-rising prices of fuel play an important role in the calculation, and with what’s been going on worldwide of late, no one can make even short-term predictions, let alone long-term ones.

How to deal with this issue efficiently?

Compare prices and quality of service. Use software to predict the most beneficial routes and suppliers. Pick beneficial couriers. Be resourceful when a crisis strikes.
Of course, no matter what you do, you can’t affect worldwide trends. Presently, the entire world seems to be going through a bumpy and unpredictable transition, but nothing lasts forever. Keep an eye on developments and adjust your plans accordingly.

Security Risks
Security risks can never be fully predicted or counteracted, but they can be guarded against.

Security risks can take the form of physical threats in some parts of the world (notably, robbery). These can be avoided to an extent. The second security threat type — cyber attacks — can be truly devastating. Modern technologies provide us with great tools: whether we use it for one purpose or another is a different matter entirely.

Environmental Regulations
Environmental regulations of different countries can prove huge obstacles for international shipping. While some of them may be necessary, other ones are plainly idiotic. Regardless, international transport is regulated in one way or another, whether we like it or not.

The best you can do is to pick the safest route and the best-informed courier, which should also be implementing certain technologies (not cheap, these).

In addition, these technologies are yet to be perfected, which adds to security risks.

Key Takeaways
International shipping is a complex process with multiple factors to consider. Let’s be completely honest here: there’s no way that everything will ever be perfect. The best businesses can do is use the latest technology, plan well ahead, research couriers, have a backup option, and learn on the go.

That, and some common sense, should help you plan reliable shipping operations.

Author's Bio: 

Angela Ash is an expert writer who focuses on business, mental health and travel topics.