Shipping Logistics - Staying Clear of Mishaps
Labeling and Regulations
Shipping logistics can be complicated and time consuming, but if you want your goods to arrive safely at their destination then it is essential that you do things correctly from start to finish.
Poor logistics management and storage usually take the credit when things go wrong, but it’s surprising how much of the blame can actually be pinned on inadequate labeling and failure to read the destination’s customs regulations…
In fact, these are the two most common reasons why supply chains break down.
Labeling your goods correctly is possibly the most important step in the whole shipping preparation process. Incorrect labeling will result in your goods being delivered to the wrong address, or in some cases completely disappearing without a trace. Make sure that the labels you use are large and easily readable and are attached securely to the largest surface of your container. Avoid placing labels over seams and make sure that you do not cover them with any kind of tape or wrapping. This is especially important in the case of bar coded labels which cannot be read if they are obscured in any way.
Try to place only one address label on to packages so as to avoid confusion. If you are reusing a box or container, make sure that you remove or cross out any old labels. When addressing labels, print clearly in block capital letters and always try to include a street address, postal code and contact telephone number. Also ensure that you include a return address and contact number so that your goods can be returned should anything go wrong with the shipment. If you are planning on sending packages to a PO Box address, bear in mind the fact that this often takes longer and costs far more than sending them to street addresses.
Shipping logistics and regulations clearly identify certain items as not being suitable for shipment. Assuming these items are shipped at all, as soon as they are unpacked they will be identified by customs officials and sent straight back where they came from. This can be particularly problematic if you have packed prohibited items in boxes with non-prohibited items, as in most cases the entire shipment will be returned. While the list of prohibited items does vary from country to country, the following goods are likely to be declined by customs officials in most countries around the world:
Furs and animal skins
Seeds and plants
Money and negotiable instruments
In certain cases, shipping companies will be willing to accept and ship items such as alcohol, tobacco, seeds and plants and potentially hazardous materials. This will only be the case where strict regulations are complied with and a significant amount in additional fees is paid.
It is best to check well in advance what the policy of the various shipping companies is regarding the shipment of prohibited items.