The origin process: ensuring safe passage for your cargo

At Twill, we want to provide our customers with the best service possible – minimising their costs, risk and creating a hassle-free environment for them to move their cargo around the world. Doing this is never more important than at ‘origin’. The early stages of a journey are driven by a number of important processes that are crucial to ensuring a cargo’s safe passage and our customers’ peace of mind.

We spoke to Huyen Nguyen, an Export Customer Care Ninja at Twill’s office in Vietnam, about what the origin process entails. She describes what the potential risks are and how we manage them at Twill.

Understanding the process

“The process at origin depends on the International Commercial Terms, or Incoterms, agreed between the supplier and buyer – this can vary and affects the liability we have in the cargo’s journey. One of the most common terms we see is ‘Free on Board’ (FOB). Using this as an example, the process begins when either the buyer or the supplier log into the Twill platform and place a booking. Depending on who initiated the booking, the other party then confirms the booking – indicating both are in agreement of what is expected.

“Once things have been confirmed, both parties will receive confirmation that includes details about the vessel, voyage, estimated time of departure at the port of loading (ETD), estimated time of arrival at the port of discharge (ETA), and other necessary information. For the buyer, this means they can plan for the arrival of their goods and start tracking the journey on Twill. Next, it’s important to get all the necessary shipping instructions uploaded, loading the container and getting it cleared through customs. Most of this is handled by the supplier, but we will stay informed of any changes and keep the buyer notified.

“Once the container has been loaded and the vessel has departed, the supplier’s liability ends under FOB incoterm.  Therefore, it’s important that we make sure everything is loaded correctly and that all parties are made aware of any changes in the schedule.

“Finally, we will review the Bill of Lading (BL) which is a crucial document that allows the release of the cargo to the consignee – so it’s also important that the BL is accurate. Besides the BL, there are customs documents such as the commercial invoice and packing list that are necessary for the import procedure.”

What are the risks and how do we avoid them?

“There are a number of things that could go wrong when preparing cargo to be exported. Here are some of the typical problems that can occur to any supplier, anywhere:

  • Space shortage – With all the mega cargo vessels and cargo liners it’s hard to imagine a space shortage when trying to secure a little 20-foot container. But it has happened and it will happen again – it is important for our customers to anticipate busy periods such as Christmas or New Year.
  • Container rolling – There are a number of reasons why your container may not be loaded on board a vessel as planned. Some of these are out of your control like a carrier’s capacity issue. Other reasons can include a delivery truck breaking down and your container is late at the port of loading, or your carrier didn’t clear customs by the carrier’s deadline.
  • Ad-hoc costs – Aside from the local charges that are applied to every shipment there are additional costs in the export process that suppliers should be very careful of, such as detention and demurrage, amendments to the customs declaration, penalties for lateness or other amendments. These costs could run into the thousands which is why getting the origin process right is so important.

How do we avoid these risks?

“At Twill, we do a number of things to mitigate and avoid these risks for our customers. We have years of experience in the freight forwarding industry. We have the advantage of that knowledge and expertise, and can often resolve many issues before they reach the customer. Additionally, we actively cooperate with the supplier to closely monitor progress through our 7 key milestones. The Twill platform is constantly evolving and updating to ensure a more and more seamless experience and an all-in-one portal for our customers.

“The origin process is intricate and attention to detail is key. One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to make sure you place your booking in advance – at least five days before the ‘Goods Ready Date’. This should be easy with a good forecast and it gives us time to do the best job we can for you. Beyond that, just remember we’re here to help and don’t hesitate to contact us for any issue, query, or input you may have during the process! If you’ve never booked with us before then get in touch and we’ll show you how we can make the whole process smoother!”