As part of a current transformer distributor that receives orders from all over the world, I have sent out a lot of different packages to many different locales. A good portion of my day includes handling the packaging and preparing of shipping labels for orders. As would be expected some days take longer to complete this than others but it is important for me to try to anticipate how long I’ll need to complete each order because the shipping is mostly completed in the afternoon that way we can include any orders that come in through the course of the day. So at the beginning of the day I take a look at all the orders that are on queue to ship for the day and plan out how long it will take me to prepare the shipping labels. I can do this is by looking at the destination of each order and thus I can judge if it’ll take me 1 minute, 15 minutes or even longer to create a shipping label. The following list is how I look at each shipping location and tell how long it will take.
- Domestic Orders (shipping within the USA) – An average of 40 to 50 secs to complete the shipping. Even orders from new customers don’t take me longer largely due to the excellent software we have called T-HUB. This program automatically integrates our ordering system with FedEx, UPS, and the USPS so that all I have to input is the size and weight of the box that is being shipped, click, and done.
- International Orders that allow for ETD – At the most, take 5 mins to complete. The ETD (Electronic Trade Document) is really nice as the Commercial Invoice that is required for International shipping gets filled out and included, in digital format, automatically when you complete the order. Getting the ETD preprogramed with the correct fields, our logo, and the signatures did take us 30mins to an hour to setup but has been more than worth the effort.
- Close International Orders (shipping to Canada and Mexico) – About 8 minutes to complete. For the products that we sell they qualify for NAFTA (North American Free Trade Act). This is just like fulfilling out orders with an ETD but I have to include the NAFTA form. I personally prefer to use the FedEx Ship Manager largely due to the fact that they have a very clear way for indicating if your shipment applies for NAFTA.
- International Orders that do not allow ETD – 10 minutes to complete. Without being able to send an ETD I have to print out the Commercial Invoice with multiple copies, check that everything was filled in properly, and fill out any missing info along with sign and date.
- Orders to Brazil – Shipping to Brazil is very tough. The first time I tried to ship to Brazil was a nightmare. It is still a lot of effort but as least now I know to expect it. Regardless, there are been orders to Brazil that have taken a whole week to fill out the proper forms and paper work. As you might notice with the previous 4 in my list the more forms I have to fill out the longer it takes. With Brazil there are more forms but the thing that is so time consuming is the massive amount attention paid to fine details. The whole time through the week there is constant back and forth communication between myself, the customer, and their Customs Broker. Changing a name here, or moving the invoice number a little to the left, making sure the weight and size are as precise as possible, signing the documents in blue ink. The expectation that I feel is that if one “i” does not have its dot in just the right spot then Brazilian Customs will not allow the shipment to go through the border thus wasting your time, money, and vastly inconveniencing your customer. Despite all the hassle and all the effort I have to put into shipping orders to Brazil I do enjoy working on them due to the fact that the Brazilians I worked with are some of the most pleasant and most grateful customers I’ve ever worked with.