The globalized business world of today has made increasing your organization’s speed and efficiency paramount.
This is particularly true for logistic companies who want to achieve success in the 21st century.
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Furthermore, the COVID-19 crisis has had a major negative impact on the global economy.
The predicament has produced further issues such as supply chain disruption, additional border security, lack of transportation, and a shortage of raw supply materials.
Add communication issues to the mix, and your logistics can suffer even further, leading to profit losses and disgruntled customers.
So in this article, we will discuss various ways to avoid communication issues in international logistics. That way, you can maintain efficient operations and protect your bottom line.
Let’s get started!
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Your logistical processes need to be aligned with those of your international partners.
Otherwise, your efficiency will not be at the level where it needs to be to deliver products in a timely manner to your market.
For instance, imagine your competitor delivering a product one week earlier than you for a similar product serving the same target market.
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Customers today are notoriously impatient. Instead of waiting around for your product, they are likely to go with the competition, costing you market share and revenue.
Ensure that you communicate regularly with your suppliers, procurement, and other logistical partners.
You should construct plans that align your shipping and receiving processes to mitigate any downtime where your product is simply sitting around.
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Secure Communication Issues
When dealing with logistics, there is often sensitive information that needs to be communicated. This includes product molds, finances, and more.
Transmitting this data over a highly trafficked network often presents risks for logistics companies, especially when the information crosses borders physically or digitally.
Because of this, your in-house and international software should ensure high data security.
Aim for 256-bit TLS data encryption. In addition, frequent security audits, updated firewalls, and up-to-date certificates will help prevent data leakage during transmission.
The last thing you need is for proprietary data to fall into the wrong hands, such as counterfeiters.
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Transparency in Communication
Transparent communication is the lifeblood of any business dealing with logistics.
It is counterproductive to hold communication from your frontline employees. This creates a bottleneck where only certain managers can communicate or approve processes.
Instead, create a single point of communication on the frontlines.
Empower your employees to have access to data that speeds up your communication. This will have a positive effect on everything down the line in your supply chain, increasing profits.
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Communication Tool Challenges
Attempt to resolve communication tool issues that slow down your logistics.
Because you have so many individuals involved in today’s supply chain, it creates a difficult path to communicating with everyone in a timely manner, especially in real time.
Therefore, strive to simplify your communication tool selection.
For instance, proposing that everyone in your network uses the same instant messaging service can consolidate your daily communications.
You can have 1-1, video, and even group chats with multiple people who are essential from moving your product along the chain.
By doing this, you keep everyone on the same page.
Issues can be corrected quickly, and you can keep track of your product and materials easier — costing less overhead for your communication team and procurement team.
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A business dealing with international logistics today needs to accept the fact that they will need to communicate with supply chain vendors across various time zones.
For instance, your company may be located in the U.S. with a cork vendor in Portugal and a metal manufacturer in Shenzhen.
In essence, a 24-hour mindset is the best approach to this situation.
Maintain agents with overlapping hours so that each hour of the day you have someone who can communicate with partners in strategic global locations.
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This is preferable to fielding calls at 3 AM or requiring your vendors to do so.
You will avoid resentment from your own team and from your international logistic partners, building trust and job satisfaction.
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From China, to India, Vietnam, and beyond, there are bound to be language barriers your business needs to deal with when it comes to your logistics.
If not, your vendors could misunderstand your production or other requirements, causing product errors and delays.
In order to counteract this effect, it is best to have at least one translator on your team when interacting with partners with different native languages.
While this comes at a cost, their hourly rate or salary will be far offset by the time and money you save by dealing with the language barrier.
In addition, it will allow you to conduct business wherever you need to for higher profits.
The new reality of international logistics means that embracing cultural diversity is critical. If you don’t, you could risk offending your vendors or employees.
Furthermore, a lack of understanding of diversity due to religious or cultural miscues can cause disruption in the supply chain.
For instance, in Japanese culture, it is common to present business cards with two hands as a sign of respect. Failing to do this could offend your partners.
And in China, the New Year celebration (a secular holiday) that occurs around February every year produces a lack of urgency and increased delivery times for certain manufactured goods.
If you focus on resolving these issues by hiring translators, learning local cultural traditions, and planning for delays at certain times, you can avoid the mistake of communication breakdowns so that your logistical operations are less affected.
In the past, logistics companies only could afford to focus on their local and regional markets, making decisions on a daily basis independent of the larger economy.
Today, companies need to think on a global scale with interconnected economies.
A new paradigm means that new ways of cooperating and collaborating need to take place across the supply chain, which requires the proper tools and technologies.
Certain technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things) allow rapid data exchange.
This increase in communication speed means that companies can streamline their processes between departments and vendors along the supply chain — from logistics to procurement, manufacturing, and even distribution.
This way, errors can be caught before they even occur, and plans can be made to correct them holistically.
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There are already enough challenges for all kinds of businesses today with the advent of globalization.
It is essential to improve your logistical efficiency, speed, and communication if you want to prosper in this new age.
Because of the various components and moving parts of today’s supply chains, this has become more difficult to achieve.
On top of that, the economy has come to a halt due to the coronavirus crisis, shutting down or slowing down many aspects of the chain and making materials more difficult to move.
Therefore, in order to improve your bottom line and maintain excellent communication, adhere to the tips above. That way, you can speed up your delivery and keep your end consumers happy, so your place in the market is secure now and going forward.
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About the author: Heather Redding is a part-time assistant manager and writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is also an avid reader and a tech enthusiast. When Heather is not working or writing, she enjoys her Kindle library with a hot cup of coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.