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Parcel backlogs continue to build at EU borders with lag of paperless trade

By Chris Dawson March 1, 2021 - 9:00 am

Bobbie Ttoulis GFS examines an apparent lag of paperless tradeIn this guest post today, Bobbie Ttooulis, Group Marketing Director at GFS, takes a look at the latest parcel backlogs that continue to build at EU borders and examines what appears to be a failure of the paperless trade we were told would solve many problems. Paperless trade however might be great if you have the data, but the adoption of suitable software tools to handle the data is still lagging behind.

At the beginning of the year, we saw parcel volumes to EU countries nose dive by more than 25% and as many as one fifth of UK SME’s reported to have stopped shipping to Europe altogether. With barely time to recover from Peak 2020, UK traders were suddenly hit with new customs requirements (and unexpected costs!) as borderless trade came to an abrupt end. For the majority that continued to ship, the biggest challenge has undoubtedly come down to a four letter word – data. Obviously we are referring to the mandatory customs data required for clearance and whether it is a case of the wrong data, incomplete data or not providing any data at all, this has been one of the root causes for the major backlogs and chaos we are seeing at borders.

Sadly, customers are becoming accustomed to the disappointment of purchases arriving late or not at all. And I myself, am no exception. As someone working for the UK’s largest provider of multi-carrier services to ecommerce businesses, it came as no surprise when I was told that my order was late due to border delays. However, what shocked me was the revelation that some of this was the time it was taking for customs officials to manually enter data on individual shipments so they could be cleared.

This begs the question – so what’s happened to ‘Paperless Trade’? Surely the whole point of this was to negate the need for manual data entry and physical paperwork to make cross-border shipping friction-free?

Paperless Trade requires the software tools as well as the data

But as online retailers continue to improve their understanding of what data must be provided for customs clearance, what seems to be lagging is their adoption of the tools to enable Paperless Trade. Meaning, the tools to capture mandatory data such as EORI number (or XI Eori for Northern Ireland). Tools that in the majority of cases will make manual data entry and physical documentation redundant. Tools that will result in less risk of human error and faster, friction-free clearance through borders and ultimately, happier customers.

Software for Friction-Free Selling to the EU and rest of World

GFS recently announced the launch of their ‘Brexit software bundle’ to give UK online sellers fast and easy access to a set of tools to help simplify EU exit shipping & returns and gain access to the widest network of multi-carrier delivery and returns services at the same time.

The bundle comprises GFS Checkout with Duties and Tax calculator, GFS Selector and GFS Global Returns Pro to generate the paperless customs declarations required with both outbound delivery and inbound returns. The software bundle integrates with all major ecommerce platform and is provided as part of the service for online retailers shipping 50+ PPN, who are buying multi-carrier services from GFS.

“Brexit has brought into focus some of the long-standing constraints that have made it difficult for UK ecommerce businesses to grow international sales. Firstly, potential lack in-house expertise and secondly, having easy access to the software tools needed to automatically calculate duties and taxes at checkout and to enable Paperless Trade.”

Learn more about paperless trade to ease cross border selling woes

RegisterJoin our webinar on March 23rd for an exclusive preview of GFS ‘Brexit software bundle’ – GFS Checkout with Duties and Tax calculator with GFS Selector and GFS Global Returns Pro to generate paperless customs declarations required with both outbound and inbound shipping. See how this kit will tick the boxes for:

  • Automatic calculation of Duties & Taxes
  • Displaying ‘Duties & Taxes Paid’ (DTP) or ‘Duty At Place’ (DAP) prices at checkout
  • Electronic capture and transmission of customs data for Paperless Trade on outbound shipments
  • Automatic generation of Customs codes and declarations for duty relief on inbound returns
  • Toby
    2 months ago

    So is some of what we are saying, that many companies etc lack the software or knowledge of sending items outside the EU? If so then surely this highlights the massive opportunities they have been missing with dealing with the rest of the world, where such requirements are the norm. As our trade with countries other than the EU is slowly shrinking compared to countries outside the EU, and the worlds fastest growing markets are outside it too, then surely this is a massive wake up call.
    Maybe for far too long, far too many have been happy with the comfortable EU market as it was easy. That is great, but in a fast changing world, you need to spread your risk. I have no doubt that after the 2008 crash, a big driver in the EUs eye wateringly long recovery, was the fact that it favoured internal trade. Meaning that as all of the EU was hit at once, it had few options to kick start things again.
    Still, i hope that once business etc adapts to the new changes, that it could infact result in more trade globally rather than just locally. This could of course work for EU based companies as well as the principles are the same.

  • mark
    2 months ago

    I would look more to the EU deliberately causing delays to punish us for daring to leave.
    Well surely 2 can play at that game.
    Local pig farmers are seeing huge delays shipping their livestock to the EU yet it keeps getting from them to us easily.
    So why dont we ban any that are not subjected to the same high welfare standards as ours nevber mind the paperwork. They will soon sort things out.

    Even a french president is in clink now.

    they are so honest.

  • 2 months ago

    Never understood importing and exporting in the 1st place!

    You make Swiss Watches, I grow English apples. Ok I will buy a Swiss watch from you and you can buy and English apple from me. Got it 🙂

    We breed English lamb and sell it to Europe, then buy New Zealand lamb and eat it in the UK.

    A couple of years ago we sold a fair amount of wedding stationery to Australia which is great but surely there are more cost effective and quicker printing services in Australia? Accepting, you like our design that you cannot buy in Australia but I don’t really think there was no suitable alternative in Aus.

    Not knocking any trading partner or product, just don’t understand why it is such a merry go round.

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