Posted by Kevin Palmstein on Thursday, January 21, 2010
With the beginning of year, we all take a look at what we did in 2009 and evaluate what has worked and what has not for our businesses. For importers, this means putting actionable plans together to understand their markets and grow their businesses while cutting unneeded costs.
1. Look for more opportunities
With all that is required to run an importing business, it is often difficult to rise above the daily grind and look for ways to find growth opportunities. Importers that bring in a significant volume of containers have the advantage of economies of scale, and one easy way to organically grow is to find importers that ship smaller volumes. By finding these companies, you can make a profit while saving them money on product and transportation costs for smaller shipments.
2. Ensure compliance of my suppliers
Contracts are not complete once you have signed an agreement with a supplier. Importers need to be constantly tracking their suppliers’ compliance with the terms of the contract and the laws of the United States. This takes looking at all shipment records for a supplier, monitoring exclusive distribution clauses, and ensuring product classifications and labeling are correct. Successful monitoring results in fewer shipments detained by Customs and suppliers paying for broken terms.
3. Optimize the classification of my products
Product classification is highly important in many industries and the difference between one HTS code
and another may mean thousands of dollars to your business. Defining your products correctly at the beginning of their life cycles will result in fewer holds by Customs and more effective tariff management. Looking at how competitors are currently assigning their products is one of the simple activities that can save time and money down the road.
4. See existing information in new ways
The old saying of “not seeing the forest through the trees” holds true for many importers. Often they are inundated with too much information to make effective, timely decisions. Looking at trends and market changes can be very difficult and time consuming when seeing only individual shipment records. However, when rolled up to higher level reports and from different sides of the information, the data transforms into actionable intelligence. Instead of spending of hours massaging existing reports to view this higher level, use a better tool that reveals this knowledge within the online application.
5. Monitor my competitors better
It seems like every year I hear importers tell me that they are going to do a better job of knowing what their competitors are doing. This often falls by the wayside as the year goes on, but making the resolution to set up easy tracking early on is the difference between the success and failure of a monitoring program. Use the tools at your disposal to set up saved searches and resolve to update your reports every week. This will allow you to move more quickly and react earlier to new product launches, pricing changes, and supply shifts.
With these five resolutions for 2010, importers can take the steps needed to improve their businesses. However, ensuring that you have the data needed to execute them is another matter. Zepol
has made it easier to subscribe
to our trade databases
and improved our training to help you meet specific goals. Please take the time to set up a demonstration
with one of our industry experts to learn more.
Posted by Kevin Palmstein on Friday, January 15, 2010
The earthquake in Haiti is a devastating disaster in proportion with the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia. In terms of human losses, the numbers are absolutely mindboggling with CNN reporting the possibility of over 100,000 dead. This has prompted an outpouring of relief from around the world. Surely billions will be donated to the people of Haiti to rebuild their country.
As the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti is one of the top receivers of aid from the United States. During the last twelve months (November 2009 to December 2008), Haiti received $174 million from charities, individuals, and private agencies in the United States. This disaster brings a greater need for these efforts. Below is a list of the top ten countries receiving this type of aid for the last 12 months:
Source: Zepol TradeView
||Donation Export Value ($)
On the trade side, the U.S. holds a positive trade balance with Haiti. Most of the imported products from Haiti are apparel and textiles, over $506 million of the $541 million. On the export side, donations make up a large percentage of products, but we also export large amounts of food (rice accounting for $150 million) and pharmaceuticals ($44 million).
The logistics community is already stepping up to help bring aid to Haiti. Crowley has suspended its regular cargo services to help U.S. government agencies deliver emergency shipments to the country. Other companies are matching employee donations and sending pilots to fly aid shipments.
Zepol would like to extend our condolences to the people of Haiti and hope that others are able donate to the relief efforts in Haiti; please click the links below:
Posted by Kevin Palmstein on Friday, January 15, 2010
On January 12th, the U.S. Census Bureau released their Merchandise Trade data numbers for November. The Merchandise Trade deficit continued its yo-yoing growth/retraction trend again this month by growing 4.83% after October’s retraction of 7.36% (click here to see October's U.S. Census data update
). Both export and import totals decreased from October, but exports outpaced imports by declining 3.32%. This brings the deficit to $455 billion for the year, which is still 39% lower than the same period in 2008.
Below, Zepol highlights some of the surprises and interesting notes within this month’s Merchandise Trade results.
Click here for Zepol’s U.S. Census Merchandise Trade Data Update for November 2009
- Automotive Industry Continues Positive Trend
- Manufacturing Reported Up
- China Officially Becomes World’s Largest Exporter
- Gas Prices Increasing Amid Reports that Oil More Abundant
- Almonds are a Bright Spot in California
Posted by Kevin Palmstein on Monday, January 11, 2010
On January 9th, Zepol completed the data for December in our U.S. Customs trade data tool, TradeIQ
. Import shipments increased in December by 1.83% from November. However, that little ray of sunshine could not make up for what comparatively was a dismal economic year. In fact, 2009 saw the fewest number of import shipments since 2004 and was down 12.48% compared to 2008 and 16.65% when compared to 2007.
Below is a table showing port regions of the world where shipments originated:
over Dec 2008
over Dec 2007
over Nov 2009
|Central America (includes Mexico)
In continuation of the analysis seen in the November Update
when looking at a year-to-year comparison of the top ten most active ports in 2009, it becomes remarkably apparent that the brunt of this recession is being borne by the traditionally most active ports. Only one port, Seattle, WA, saw increased imports from 2008, and while only the port of New York, NY saw increased imports from 2007, but their competitors in their respective regions saw massive declines; for example, Tacoma, WA imports dropped by 29.74% from 2008 and 34.97% from 2007 while Newark, NJ dropped by 13.35% from 2008 and 16.09% from 2007.
Below are the top 10 ports in the U.S. by shipment count:
Zepol's U.S. Customs trade data
||Change from 2008
||Change from 2007
|Los Angeles, CA
|Long Beach, CA
|New York, NY
is taken from Bills of Lading entered into the Automated Manifest System. The information represents the number of House manifests entered by importers of waterborne containerized goods. This indicator is the earliest data available for the previous month’s trade activity.