For food businesses importing and exporting across international borders, now is a time of unprecedented uncertainty. While a complex web of regulations, logistical challenges and expenses have always been part and parcel of cross-border trading, the last year has seriously exacerbated these issues. This is especially true for larger businesses operating multinationally that rely on the smooth running of hundreds of supply chains at any one time.
However, food businesses across the world are navigating these unprecedented times with the help of software built for their industry. Food-specific enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions set businesses up with the tools they need to make smarter import and export decisions based on reliable data. Enterprise-level companies in particular are reaping the benefits of food ERP, which allows them full visibility and control over each branch of their organization and allows data to flow freely between them.
Firstly, the pandemic has created the need for a huge recalibration in the food industry. Not only are producers and manufacturers now contending with less predictable levels of demand, but it’s proving harder than ever to import ingredients and get the finished products to where they need to be on time. Even as many countries begin to return to something approaching normality domestically, borders still remain tightly controlled. With border restrictions so changeable, well-laid distribution plans can be wrecked overnight.
The disruption caused by Brexit has also given businesses further headaches, with significant regulatory diversion and extra bureaucracy causing delays at Britain’s ports. This doesn’t just affect the EU-UK relationship, but businesses in the U.S. and beyond too - many of which have strong trade links with British companies.
Purpose-built software implementations like ERP for the food industry have never been more important in today’s business landscape. Smoothing imports and exports is just one benefit food ERP brings to companies operating internationally, but it’s one that:
We’ve picked out three key features that help achieve this:
Strong control over warehouse operations is vital for all food businesses, but especially those trading internationally. ERP’s inventory modules integrate seamlessly with your company’s purchase and sales schedules, helping the workforce receive and dispatch orders in a timely and efficient manner. Inventory data refreshes in real time, giving every link in your supply chain visibility over delivery timelines too.
Larger businesses with multiple warehouse sites in different countries benefit especially from this level of control. The ability to view data from all locations on one dashboard is invaluable for these companies, as they seek the best overview of their operations.
Food ERP solutions track all product shipments across their entire journey through the business. In essence, this gives food and fresh produce companies far better visibility over every item that was bought, how the business processed it and then exactly how it was sold. But the real benefit for cross-border trading is that ERP shipment tracking capabilities allow the recording of all costs throughout the supply chain.
These include shipping charges, landed costs, taxes, tariffs, duties and all other complexities that arise when food products cross borders. This gives companies a much better overview of the proceeds after transporting certain shipments to certain locations - allowing them to fine-tune their sales strategy and make smarter decisions.
ERP gives businesses transporting food internationally complete confidence in the necessary logistics. Transportation modules can calculate the most efficient and profitable routes and shipment configurations for a company’s specific needs. It does this by pulling together all the relevant information - from the warehouse to the shipment data.
This is especially vital for helping shipments negotiate customs checks quickly so they reach their destination in the best condition possible. The process can be smoothed further by integrating mobile solutions to ensure all staff - from handlers in the warehouse to truck drivers - have the relevant documentation at their fingertips.
The best solutions will have specific functionality for trading documents - slashing the time taken to negotiate border checks and reducing the possibility of costly mistakes too. They’ll be able to make calculations based on supply and demand, send out quotations, and keep track of additional costs related to a specific order - all performed taking different currencies and different tax climates into account. The positive impact this can have on a business in terms of efficiency and profit margins can be enormous.
These kinds of results are only possible with the unhindered flow of information enabled by purpose-built ERP solutions. This is a massive benefit brought about by Business Intelligence - a crucial aspect of food ERP that allows a business to optimize processes and make more strategic decisions. When a food business or supply chain stretches across multiple countries, this is more important than ever.
Our solution - Aptean Food & Beverage ERP Enterprise Edition - has been perfected to cater for the needs of large food businesses. If you’d like to know more about how Aptean software could improve your company’s cross-border trading, get in touch today.