Managing international shipping in the time of COVID-19
Alibaba.com AUGUST 25, 20203MIN READ

According to a survey conducted by the Institute for Supply Chain Management in mid-March, nearly 75% of companies reported supply chain disruptions in some way due to coronavirus-related transportation restrictions. That number is only expected to rise.

Although production is slowing in the US, manufacturers are finally returning to work in China. That means it's feasible to start production again — it's just a matter of getting your goods to the final destination and clearing import customs.

We want to help you manage any supply chain disruptions that may come your way. These five tips will help you navigate international shipping in the time of COVID-19:

1. Stay in tune with the market

Whether you're a small or large importer, knowing the market is crucial. With things changing rapidly in the world of shipping, you need to stay up to date on any changes in customs, duties, or shipping costs so you don't make a costly mistake. Alibaba.com Freight has tools to give you more visibility into the shipping process, like the Compare Quotes tool. You can choose from a list of handpicked providers and find the best value for your needs through comparing ocean and air rates side by side.

2. Limit your air freight shipping

While logistics has been deemed essential, there are fewer ships and planes available to transport goods. However, ocean freight is much less volatile than air freight, because goods shipped by air freight are subject to price spikes and delivery delays. Try to limit the amount of goods you are shipping via air freight and turn to ocean instead.

3. Book your freight as early as possible

Booking your freight date early is one way for you to maintain control. Advance bookings allow you to secure air cargo or ocean vessel space in line with your supply chain planning. When shipping by air or ocean freight, it is recommended to book your shipment 10-14 days prior to the cargo ready date. This will help you better manage your supply chain and build in a buffer for any possible delays at the shipping origin or destination.

4. Account for changing import/export requirements

Some goods shipped to the US are subject to stricter laws and regulations, even during normal market conditions. These include goods inspected by several government agencies, like the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). These already heavily inspected goods may be subject to even greater inspection because of COVID-19. Stricter policies for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies sourced from China were also instituted this month. Keep track of any changing import/export requirements so you can stay in front of possible delays.

5. Explore new warehousing and fulfillment options

Many suppliers are seeing upticks in demand for their goods due to COVID-19. To meet this greater demand, you will want to fulfill and dispatch orders faster. Using warehouses or third party fulfillment centers closer to your main market is one way to do this. Find a location near the region you are looking to serve to ensure prompt delivery. This helps you take advantage of the greater demand for your goods while saving on final shipping costs.

Manage your international shipping with Alibaba.com Freight. Find out more about our transparent pricing, trackable shipments, and flexible payment options here.