The innovative service does away with warehousing and multiple customs clearance for easier and cheaper delivery INTERNATIONAL LOGISTICS operator UPS has launched an innovative service that simplifies the cumbersome process of locating and booking warehouses for companies shipping products overseas. Finding a warehouse is a hassle, especially when a shipment involves multiple destinations. Delays caused by having to go through customs at individual checkpoints compound the problem. The new service, launched at the beginning of the year, has effectively done away with warehousing and multiple customs clearance. Unlike traditional freight forwarding which first moves shipments to a distribution centre or warehouse, the service enables the goods to be delivered directly to the retail locations. Individually packaged goods are labelled for delivery to the United States or Europe and then consolidated into one freight shipment. After being transported via an aircraft, ship or truck, the goods clear US customs as a consolidated unit. That unit is then unloaded and the individual packages are routed directly to market. Exploiting its extensive network, the Atlanta-based courier is in a unique position to provide the service. Clients have the option of sending their products by air or sea, which is not always possible with other operators who don't have aviation or ocean facilities. The service is now limited to shipments bound for the US and Europe. UPS has seven air cargo centres across the US and one in Cologne, Germany. At the UPS hub, drayage, customs clearance, cross-docking and the final forwarding to retail locations are all done at one stop. 'Time sensitivity, geography and other factors all [have an] impact on how you want your shipment to travel,' said Leung Kwok-kee, general manager of UPS Hong Kong and Macau. 'As a result, UPS has two efficient Trade Direct options to fit your international trade requirements. From the point of origin to the ultimate destination, shipments are consolidated, transported, reconsolidated and delivered with unparalleled visibility throughout the process.' Mr Leung said the service was especially useful for companies that needed to deliver their products to multiple locations. 'Before, they had to send it by different shipments and clear customs at each destination. Tracking every one of the shipments is a headache,' he said. 'Now cargo will be consolidated at one of [the] hubs ... before [being dispatched] to different locations. Therefore, the client would not need to hire a warehouse at different arrival points and would not have to clear customs individually. 'It has greatly cut down both on cost and time.' UPS said that with Trade Direct, cargo sent by sea from major ports in Asia, Europe, South and North America could save up to 20 days of inventory. UPS senior vice-president of worldwide sales and marketing Kurt Kuehn said: 'Trade Direct speeds transit times for our customers even as supply chains get longer and more complex. And [it] cuts the expense of warehousing.' The streamlined procedures were especially beneficial for firms selling time-sensitive products. Mr Leung said: 'It is a major breakthrough for companies marketing their seasonal or trendy products as they can't lose any lead time. Products need to hit the market in a timely manner.' 'With these latest enhancements, we are simplifying the information management challenges that can arise with increased global trade.' Firms are more in control of their supply chain because of high visibility and faster delivery of goods, as it virtually eliminates shipping uncertainties while reducing costs. Before, clients needed to track the customs clearance and arrival of their packages at different points. Now they can monitor the entire supply chain process in one integrated system. Customers can use a common computer application to prepare and process freight and package shipments of all types. And freight movements, including Less-Than-Truckload, can be tracked online at UPS.com. 'All transport charges, duties, taxes, brokerage fees and additional services are included in a single Trade Direct service bill,' Mr Leung said. The service can also reduce administrative costs. 'Because invoices come from one source on a single bill, cost calculations, reconciliation and budget management require less time and paperwork,' he said.