Cargo travels on paper – here are the key documents you’ll encounter

According to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), over 90% of the world’s trade is carried by sea. There are various parties involved in making sure all of these goods arrive at their final destination – from freight forwarders like us at Twill, to shippers, carriers, and of course you the customer!

So how exactly does a global logistics industry function? The answer is documentation!

Your cargo travels on paper. You can have all of the containers and carrier space you need, but without the right documentation, your cargo won’t move an inch. The right documents establish everything from ownership and responsibility right down to individual costs and receipts. This is how the shipping industry works – it is still very paper-driven!

At Twill, one of our key responsibilities is ensuring our customers have all the right documentation at each stage of the process. So, here are some of the key documents you’ll likely encounter as you start shipping your cargo.

Bill of Lading

The Bill of Lading is the most important document in the entire transportation process. It is required by any carrier before a shipment is taken and acts as a receipt and contract for the carriage of goods as well as proof of ownership. It contains the following information:

  • Seller’s and Buyer’s (that’s you!) names
  • Names of the ports of departure and destination
  • Name of the vessel
  • Dates of departure
  • Itemised list of goods being transported
  • Weight and/or volume of the cargo

A Bill of Lading is required in all claims for compensation for any damage, delay, or loss, as well as for the resolution of disputes regarding ownership of the cargo. So it’s an important document and is increasingly being created and transferred digitally, to minimise the risk of loss.

Shipper’s Letter of Instruction (SLI)

An SLI is a note from the exporter to the freight forward of your cargo, with instructions on how a shipment is being sent and where it’s going. Each freight forwarder has their own SLI form, but they all request the same details, such as: routing info, shipment dimensions and weight, contact info for seller/buyer and more.

Packing List

A Packing List is for inspection and shipping purposes and shows how your cargo has been packed. It includes info about the shipper/buyer, description of goods, hazardous information if applicable and details about the type of packaging used.

Commercial Invoice

A Commercial Invoice is a key accounting document for any cargo being transferred from the seller to the buyer. It’s used to determine the true value of goods for assessing any Customs duties and to clear it through Customs.

It must be completed in full and include – among other things – the Incoterms rule, net and gross weights, description of the goods, value, currency and certifications.

Customs Documents

Laws and regulations differ from region to region – and this makes Custom documents a little more complicated than the other more standard documents covered here. Customs documents will be created when the buyer and supplier take their Commercial Invoice and Packing List and complete the Customs procedure with the local authorities; making sure they’re paying everything and are compliant with all local laws and regulations.

Buyers and suppliers will usually reach out to freight forwarders, like us at Twill, and we will help them complete this documentation.

Don’t forget Incoterms!

While not a document in itself, an International Commercial Term – or Incoterm as it’s more commonly known – is a universal term that defines a transaction between importer and exporter so that both parties understand their tasks, costs, risks and responsibilities. It forms part of your Commercial Invoice.

There are currently 11 different Incoterms which define these responsibilities in different ways. Some refer to all modes of transport and others to sea/water transport only.

This isn’t an exhaustive list and you’ll encounter others while shipping your cargo – but if you’re feeling a little daunted then don’t worry, that’s why we’re here! At Twill we can help you prepare the necessary documentation for your cargo. Get in touch with our team and book with us today – www.twill.net.

 

5 key freight documents in international shipping

Five peak periods in logistics to be aware of

by Curtis Doyle

2019 is a new year and that means a fresh calendar of activity for the logistics industry, and your business, to prepare for. In this blog we take a look at five peak periods to be aware of and the effect they could have on your cargo.

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is a yearly festival that is celebrated in varying forms across Asia – causing the largest annual mass human migration in the world! Beginning on 5th February this year, it will see almost all factories in the region close for over a week, with full productivity not resuming for almost a month.

This is easily the biggest holiday in the logistics calendar and prior to New Year, we see the number of containers raise 50% as people prepare their cargo. It also results in a busy start to the year as logistics companies, carriers and shippers deal with this demand and the subsequent backlogs once normal working resumes. Read more about it in our dedicated Chinese New Year blog.

Carnival

Carnival is a festive season that occurs before Lent, involving public celebrations, parades and street parties. While it actually occurs in many countries around the world, the biggest and most famous Carnival celebration is in Brazil – where, like Chinese New Year, much of the country comes to a standstill for a week of festivities. This year it kicks off on 1st until 6th March.

Brazil is the largest economy in Latin America and 8th largest in the world – so when the country’s production slows the world takes notice!

It also means you have two of the world’s largest economies (Brazil and China) holding big holidays within weeks of each other. So it’s important to be aware of when these dates crossover in order to plan appropriately.

Holiday season

It may seem like a world away, but the holiday season will come around quickly! For those of us in the northern hemisphere our summer months are July and August; but of course on the southern hemisphere summer is already here. Depending on where you’re shipping your cargo from or to, you could be affected by the summer season as workers head off on their holidays.

The holiday season also sees heightened demand for certain commodities and produce – from food to garden furniture – so if you’re shipping anything seasonal it’s probably time to start planning for it now, well enough in advance that you’ll get your cargo when you need it most.

Black Friday / Cyber Monday

Black Friday and its recent partner, Cyber Monday, are huge dates on the consumer calendar. Starting in the United States – where Black Friday falls on November 29th following Thanksgiving – it has now spread across the globe from the UK to Mexico as other countries look to get a slice of the vast amounts of money that will be spent over the course of these two days.

Americans alone spent $5bn in 24 hours on Black Friday in 2018, while the UK spent over £7bn across the two days. In order to accommodate this huge demand, you’ll see many companies getting their cargo prepared as early as September.

Christmas / New Year

Before you know it, you will have made it through another year and the busy time of Christmas and New Year will be here. Add to this all the people starting to take holidays as well as more severe weather and it can get pretty stressful and disruptive – so it’s important to plan for this period well in advance.

You will have noticed the words ‘planning’ and ‘awareness’ popping up a lot in this blog – they’re both key to avoiding delays to your cargo during peak periods; as well as strong relationships with your shippers, carriers and freight forwarders like us!

In the coming weeks we’ll have separate blogs on those subjects, but for now get the diary out and plot these key periods in your calendar.

Don’t forget you can contact Twill today to book your cargo throughout the year – www.twill.net.

 

Have you ever thought how Carnival, Chinese New Year or Christmas might affect your whole planning throughout the year?

From furniture to flowers – there’s a container for everything!

by Raj Kumar, Global Customer Care Lead

Twill was born out of the desire of making shipping simple. We’re constantly developing and improving our product to better satisfy your needs. Now we want to talk about you, your business, your cargo, and give you hints and advice to make your life even simpler with Twill. Introducing our new “This is all about you” weekly series.

Our first blog comes from Global Customer Care Lead, Raj Kumar. Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks!

Containers are one of our industry’s best inventions. They have remained a constant in the world of shipping since shipping began; and they haven’t changed all that much! They’re simply bigger, smarter, safer and stronger.

I know it can seem daunting to look at your cargo – maybe its toys, clothes, furniture, vehicles or food – and try to figure out how you’re going to get it into a container and ship it across the world. Well, that’s where Twill and our Customer Care Ninjas can help make things simple for you!

What types of containers are there?

First things first, there’s quite a lot of equipment types for you to choose from. Which one you choose is going to depend on what type of cargo you’re looking to ship. Two of the most common you will encounter, and likely use, are dry containers – the kind you’ve probably seen before! It’s called ‘dry’ because it doesn’t have any temperature controls – it’s basic but will do the trick for cargo like toys, clothes etc.

The other is the refrigerated ISO container. This is, as you can imagine, a container that does have controls for temperature – and is perfect for transporting perishables such as flowers or food that need to be kept cold across long distances.

The likelihood is that you will use one of these two, but there are many others for more specific cargo: cylinder tanks for transporting liquids and more hazardous cargo – like fuel or chemicals; or open top containers (like a container without a roof!) which allow taller and more awkward cargo, like vehicles, to still be transported. Even animals can be transported across the sea! Although not in containers – they will get their own fit-for-purpose boat, fully equipped with all they need to be comfortable and safe.

Within the basic containers, there are variants in height and length to choose from – your container could be 20ft, 40ft or 45ft standard, or 40ft and 45ft high cube – these are taller. As your freight forwarder, we can always advise the best and most suitable container for your cargo!

How big is a shipping container?

Making things fit

When you book a container with any freight forwarder or shipping line, you might be faced with terms such as FCL, LCL or CbM. These stand for Full-Container Load, Less than Container Load – which both relate to container volume – and Cubic Metres which is a measurement sometimes used for your cargo.

What this means is that if you have a lot of cargo you should be able to fill a container all by yourself and you will pay the full price for that container – this is FCL.

However, if you don’t have enough cargo to fill an entire container by yourself, you can choose Less than Container Load (LCL). The rest of the container will be filled by your freight forwarder with different customers’ cargo who also cannot fill a container alone.

Using LCL will certainly reduce your costs – and the container will still be shipped to just one destination despite having different customers’ cargo on board, so your estimated time of arrival won’t be affected.

Cubic Metres (CbM) is used to help understand the space you have available within a container. This is where the size and type of your cargo can really come into play. If you want to transport cartons, for example, and the cartons are small, you might be able to get 500 units within the cubic metres available in your container.

However, if you’re transporting bigger items, such as furniture, you’re going to get less cargo in the same amount of cubic metres. This is why understanding your cargo is so important. If you request FCL, and the container is only half-full, you could be paying more than is necessary.

Getting the most out of your container

It is here, where container utilisation becomes a factor and this is a broad topic. Big name brands might have their own tools to ensure they get the most out of their containers – which will be linked to their forecasting, stock, demand etc. For smaller or medium size businesses it becomes important to have a good relationship with your supplier.

A supplier with experience can have huge benefits. As you build a relationship with them over time, they will get to know your cargo better than anyone and they will be able to tell you exactly the kind of container you’ll need for your cargo!

While you, of course, want to get as much cargo as possible in your container, you have to strike a balance. You want to give it room to breathe so nothing gets damaged, but not too much so that it will fall over or move around in transit.

Our key advice

Ultimately, what you want is for your cargo to reach you safely and on time. You’ll want to ask yourself, does my cargo have special requirements? Is it perishable, hazardous, or potentially awkward to transport? Having a good understanding of this, paired with a strong, well-negotiated relationship with your supplier is essential to a smooth shipping process.

If you achieve these two things, getting your cargo in the right container will be much easier and you will save money by utilising that container to its fullest capacity! At Twill we’re here to help make shipping simple for you. Contact the team today – www.twill.net.

When delays strike, Twill is there to help

At Twill, we understand that the most important thing for our customers is their cargo arriving safely and in a timely fashion. One container of cargo being delayed for one of our customers could mean hundreds of their customers being effected.
While almost 90% of everything we buy arrives by ship, delays are still frequent in the shipping industry.

Some things you can’t control

According to Drewry Shipping Consultants only 65% of vessels are on-time on average. This can vary from country to country and across different shipping lanes; but it does mean that a sizeable number of vessels are delayed in the industry. At Twill we’re conscious of this fact and always work towards timely delivery for our customers.

When it comes to delays, unfortunately the causes are almost always out of our control – which can be frustrating. More often than not they are due to bad weather conditions, port congestion, delays at customs and even holidays in parts of the world.

The best, first step in avoiding these delays is proactive planning that takes as many of these factors into account as possible. For example, we encourage our customers to book cargo well in advance of Lunar New Year to avoid any delays. We’ll always look to support our customers with this – especially if they are new to booking shipments.

Transparency, proactivity and honesty

However, if delays do strike, we act quickly and transparently to resolve any issues. This starts by contacting any customers effected immediately. Most importantly, we come to our customers with proposed solutions, so that they can react and adapt to any change in the delivery time.

This isn’t just the case when delays are external. We had an experience with one of our customers, who came to us with the desire to double the number of containers that they had previously booked. This was during the peak season in China and we understood that this would be a challenge, especially at this time of the year. So our customer care ninjas worked together with different teams inside Twill, along with the client, to find a solution.

We started by having an honest conversation about the challenges regarding peak season – and what the client’s actual needs would be for that period. From there, we provided realistic options that would be doable for both parties – these were accompanied by contingency plans so that the client could manage ahead in case we weren’t able to deliver their containers by their deadline.
With these plans, we began reaching out to different carriers in the region – working closely with our Local and Regional Capacity Managers; as well as our Global Customer Care team, who got in touch with our Maersk Line HQ to help.

The result of our work was a happy customer, who was able to secure space with Maersk for their increased cargo and it sailed on the planned date!

Working towards solutions

This is a good example of how sometimes, given our strong connections through Maersk and having local offices in countries around the world, we can ensure our customers are prioritised with our vendors. This comes with many perks and can often reduce the time their cargo is delayed.

While delays may be down to a specific vendor, carrier or supplier, we don’t look to place blame, as ultimately it will take everyone to get a shipment back on track. It is after a shipment has made it to our customer that we will review what caused the delay. We measure the performance of our providers and that’s how we ensure our customers get the best service – if performance from a specific party is consistently low, then we will take action and make changes.

Ultimately, with cargo traveling almost entirely by either sea or air, there are going to be issues from time to time. These environments are not always predictable. But when issues arise, the team at Twill don’t shy away – we confront the problem with our customers’ best interests at heart to ensure timely delivery and minimal disruption.

Taking Twill Global

Meet Jesper Frandsen, Twill’s Global Expansion Lead, and see what goes into taking Twill around the world; to new countries and markets.

It has been a busy and ambitious year for Twill in 2018. We recently launched into six new countries – including new markets in the UAE, Australia and New Zealand – and that means a lot of new offices, new Twillers and new customers!

As Twill’s Global Expansion Lead, my role encapsulates a lot of things – most importantly ensuring that we can expand geographically as planned; which means a lot of traveling to new countries and meeting new people! It is an exciting role and since joining Twill earlier this year, I have travelled to 21 different countries, spent 300 hours in the air and covered over 200,000km – that’s almost 5 times around the globe!

As well as this, there is the important internal work that goes in to make roll-outs happen – it is very much a team effort. I work within a team of three – we’re known as the Twill Rock & Rollers! – but there is also input needed from all of our Twill teams – whether it’s recruitment, marketing, management or tech teams. No one team can do it on their own – no matter how great they are – we all have to work together as a united company to achieve our vision and goal.

Where to next?

Picking the next country for Twill to expand into involves a number of different things. The highest on the list is global trade volumes for that country within our key demographic, which is SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises). Outside of that, we will look at our existing footprint – because as a Maersk innovation we have the advantage of being able to utilise their global footprint to rollout faster. If we were to set-up in a country from scratch, it would take a lot longer.

Finally, we will take into account things like the potential growth of the country/market, revenues, competitors, and the infrastructure in place – a big part of the role of the Rock & Rollers in Twill’s roll-outs is visiting potential customers to assess the product market fit and to create an early awareness and traction around our platform.

There is a cultural aspect too to consider, and it is important for us to understand whether a new country is open and willing to embrace digital solutions like ours. Sometimes this can provide surprises, for example, if you look at a country like Japan, they’re considered a very high-tech country; but when it comes to logistics and trade, there are a lot of hierarchies and traditions that are still rooted, so they might be slower to embrace our innovation.

Being aware of challenges

Of course, there are always potential challenges to expanding into a new country – however these are almost always external challenges. Internally, with our agile way of working and mind-set, we are able to adapt quite quickly to internal challenges that may arise on a rare occasion. Externally, the challenges very often come in terms of recruitment and the individual legal and compliance requirements of each country.

For recruitment, some countries have working councils and we must stick to their terms of employment. From a legal point of view, while most compliances come under global trading standards, each country tends to have their own terms and conditions that can vary ever so slightly – but that can mean the difference between a smooth rollout or costly delays. So we have to take extra care in making sure we take these challenges into account.

Meeting people around the world

As I’ve referenced in this blog, my job entails a lot of traveling, and one of the best things about it is getting to meet so many amazing people all around the world; hearing their stories and introducing them to Twill. This is not just potential customers; I spend time training future sales and customer care ninjas too! I often hold ‘town hall’ meetings where I demo our platform and getting to see their reactions to this innovative technology never gets boring.

Moving into major markets, like the US and China, has been an exciting move for Twill this year; but for myself personally there has also been the chance to launch into Scandinavia, where I worked for many years. I had the opportunity to catch-up and even have meetings with friends and former colleagues as part of my role and it was great to show them what I’d been up to with Twill and the work we’re doing.

There are exciting plans on the horizon for 2019 and I’m looking forward to helping make them happen with the Twill team – watch this space!

Bringing Twill to Australia

This week at Twill, we announced our launch into a host of new countries, from Germany and the UAE; to Vietnam and New Zealand. It represents our continued ambition to grow and our mission to remove the consuming logistical barriers to international trade for our customers. One of our latest additions is Australia, where I’m based.

I joined Twill in September because I saw what a great opportunity it provided. I am a millennial and we have grown up with technology all around us, constantly evolving and expanding. Getting the chance to join a team that is looking to bring that same technological, digital revolution to the shipping world was too enticing to turn down.

What also caught my attention about Twill was the ‘agile approach’ which allows us to be open to change and reflect the market. This is important not just for our internal work, but also for our customers; we can take on their feedback and take it forward into real change for our platform or our service. It means Twill is always evolving!

Making a difference in the Australian market

In our team here in Australia we have experience as well as ambition. One of my colleagues Jose, for example, started his career in the Philippines in both Sales and Operations and has a number of years’ experience in the logistics sector – and has been working in the Australian market for two and half years.

Most of the SMEs in Australia, like the rest of the world, are not actually experts in the logistics field – for the main reason that logistics is not their business. At Twill we look to bridge this gap, making shipping and logistics as simple as possible – and we can show our customers through the steps we take so they feel informed and understand each process.

I believe that Twill is really coming to the forefront of freight forwarding, and that it can have a positive impact on the Australian market for our customers. Twill allows the customer to see what is needed and where their shipment is heading – as well as allowing for customisations for their individual needs.

Overcoming barriers

Since Australia is an island, there are tighter controls in place than in some other countries. We have two government departments – Customs and Quarantine – in which rules can differ. Customs focuses on revenue collection (duty/tax etc.) whereas Quarantine focuses on the environment, protecting native flora and fauna and biosecurity.

The tighter controls are particularly true in the case of documentation, where Australia has some documentation and regulations that aren’t present elsewhere in the world. A packing declaration is one example of this – not having it can mean involuntary inspections of your cargo and it possibly being denied entry to the country entirely.

Twill is able to tackle these complexities comfortably through our documentation processes; as the supplier is able to upload their documents directly to the platform for all necessary parties to view and sign-off. This prevents the kinds of delays mentioned above, and with this feature brokers can then decide what documentation is needed when each invoice is uploaded.

Since the Twill platform is always getting better, the kinds of specific documentation needed for certain countries could be added to the mandatory required documents whenever the country in question is the destination.

At Twill we’re always growing and learning and it’s exciting to see the company continue to expand into new regions like ours, here in Australia and New Zealand, as we will also be able to serve our neighbours from our office in Melbourne.

How Twill embraced agile

Since our launch in 2017, the team at Twill have embraced an agile methodology – which is a process of working that encourages collaboration, adaptation, and efficiency. It is formed around key roles and events within teams and the company as a whole. These include daily Huddles, Sprints, Scrum Masters and more. If you’re not familiar, take a look at this handy guide on the terminology.

This year we wanted to see how we could improve our agile mindset, so we introduced Minke de Haan, an Agile Coach, to the team. In this week’s blog we spoke to her about how she’s been working with Twill, her experiences and why an agile culture could be beneficial for other businesses:

What have you been working on with the team at Twill in your time here?
“I began my work at Twill with a vision workshop – this was to help me understand what they wanted to do, where they wanted to go with Twill and why. In my opinion, having this understanding of the wider vision and strategy is crucial to ensuring everyone is aligned from the beginning.

“After this, I spent a few weeks observing and understanding the Product team and Tech team – where I spent my time discovering ways they could improve their agile processes. In this time I started to see how they could work better together and better utilise agile processes to get over obstacles and achieve their goals.

“I believe that it’s important not to just optimise little things here and there – but to really prepare, understand and then implement. So all of this preparation culminated in two workshops that laid out what agile could do for these teams alongside the vision of leadership over the next 6, 9, 12 months. Then it was about finding out what the teams needed from each other if they were to further implement an agile methodology – and what did they need from agile.”

Why is an agile culture important to a company like Twill?
“For a start-up like Twill you need to deliver fast, while maintaining great quality, and as a start-up, you feel a desire to prove yourself to the world and prove that you’re here to stay. You want to get to a point where you not only have a strong platform, as Twill does, but you are an established company that delivers new products or features at the right time and in the right way.

“On top of this, Twill thrives on delivering added value for their customers, that’s the end goal for them and many companies. You might have a great idea, with great market research, but if you as a company aren’t able to deliver it to the market and get real feedback from customers – then it stays an idea.

You say you’ve been working with the leadership team at Twill – how important is leadership to an agile company?
“Leadership is very important. When you look at a traditional company, the leadership tends to demand results and then micro-manage. In an agile company, leadership understands that they can coach people and support them by helping move barriers or obstacles that might be stopping growth or progress.

“What’s good about the leadership team at Twill is that they are passionate and ambitious, which is rare in many companies. For example, in a roadmap session where in most companies you will get 15 – 20 ideas out of a workshop, at Twill you get 150 – 170! So then it becomes a case of structuring this ambition. We developed a roadmap for the next 12 months – with a focus on the first three months and then the next 6 months. The later 9 – 12 month periods were more vague because there a lot of potential things that can change in that time – so you want to be able to adapt to those changes.

“At Twill the leadership team is also working in two-week sprints. So when every sprint finishes they look back and review – then plan ahead for the next sprint. This allows the leadership team to, alongside their normal job roles, achieve some goals that are really important for Twill++ (Agile as the heartbeat of the organisation).

What are the tangible benefits of an agile culture?
“I think there are two strong tangible benefits of an agile culture. Firstly, it allows everyone to do what they do best. When everyone is aligned, working together and helping each other achieve their goals and remove obstacles, nobody is having to work out problems on their own – which can not only be difficult but also time-consuming.

“Secondly, I’d say a great benefit is transparency. A strong roadmap shows where we are and when we need to deliver things. This means, for example, that we now have more conversations with stakeholders and teams about what and how we need to deliver value to our customers.”

Finally, what would be your reflections on working with Twill so far – and what advice would you give to other companies thinking of embracing agile?
“From the moment I arrived at Twill it’s been a great journey – the teams here are really willing to change, learn and grow. For me that made the transitions we needed to make, so much easier – because everyone was open to change, even when there were obstacles.

“For me, it is important with embracing Agile that we are all in this together or we don’t do it at all. I really feel and see at Twill that we are all in this together – there is no hierarchy.

“To other companies looking at going agile, I’d reiterate some of the things I’ve said here – prepare, understand and then implement. There’s no one-day, one-job fix – it is a process and everyone has to be involved and aligned in that process for it to really work and be sustainable.”

Business Development & Twill: A Thriving Partnership

Start-ups (like Twill) face many challenges as they establish themselves in the world. One of the biggest is having to build a reputation from the ground-up, as well as growing and expanding as you go. There are a lot of challenges this can present, especially in terms of maintaining quality and sustainability for customers.

This makes the role of business development at Twill really important. In this week’s blog, Paul Iles, Business Development Manager at Twill, spoke about the relationship between Business Development and our digital platform:

“My job is very much customer-facing. It’s my job to promote our platform and the service we provide – this involves researching and developing new business, as well as cultivating existing business. It’s important, as a member of the business development team, that I’m aware of the market we work in and know how we can be more competitive each day, month and year.

“An innovative digital platform like Twill presents its challenges – it is disruptive after all! When I first started working at Twill I felt like I knew the structure of a sales call/meeting inside and out – I have been working in the freight forwarding and logistics industry for 30 years. But Twill really pushed me onto a new level – there was now a platform to demonstrate to clients and get immediate feedback on; it has changed the whole dynamic of sales meetings for the better.

“One of the ways it’s done this is that when I’m in a sales meeting and talking with a potential customer, I can actually take a step back and let the platform do the talking through a demonstration. With the spotlight off me, I can gauge how the customer is reacting to Twill and that lets me know how the meeting is going. It can also help in gaining information more naturally from the customer – rather than feeling like I’m conducting an interview.

“Overall it has generally breathed new life into sales meetings and existing relationships with customers that may have been approached via our relationship with Damco. We build relationships with customers in order to get business; but when you meet with the same people each time it can become a stalemate and everyone gets comfortable. Twill has disrupted that and in that way it is moving us ahead of the competition from a business development perspective – as well as its digital innovation.

“I think there is a strong relationship between what Twill has brought to our business development and what our business development is bringing to Twill. There will always be a need for some human element in our industry and in the business development team we can help make the transition to a digital future smooth for our customers. On the other side, Twill is breaking new ground – it has made freight forwarding exciting again.

“I’ve been involved in freight forwarding for many years, in almost every aspect of the industry, and I can see that Twill is legitimising freight forwarding and making it more sophisticated. People are realising now that it is not just a non-essential part of their business – but a key fixture. Twill has been crucial in that realisation and I’m proud to be a part of the team!”

The Life of Twill’s Head of People

At Twill we want to give our customers and the general public a glimpse into how our company runs on a day to day basis – as well as the people who make it tick. Our ‘Day in the Life’ blog series continues this week as we spoke to Ramona Sandu, Head of People at Twill, on what her job entails, what it means for our customers and what an average day looks like for her:

What is involved in your role as Head of People at Twill?
“As Head of People, my role involves building the internal structure of Twill – defining who and what makes a Twiller. That covers a lot of things, from recruitment to strategy.

“My role within Twill is aligned with my purpose – I aim to lead from the heart to help build the team and company I want to work for. For this reason, employee culture is important to me – building a culture that functions on open and honest relationships is one of my priorities for ensuring the success of Twill’s people.

“At Twill we believe in ‘disrupting logistics’, and my role takes this in a different direction by also disrupting ourselves; asking how we can get better and improve as a company. When we do a great thing – whether it’s for a customer or introducing a new product – that’s brilliant and we should celebrate it. So we’re walking the fine line of “this is how we do things around here (i.e. our culture) and “how could we do that even better next time?”

So what does an average work day look like for you?
“Well, there’s rarely an average day at Twill! But typically a big chunk of my day is dedicated to getting the right Twillers into the company. This can be on a strategic level or literally interviewing people for roles within the business. The role employees play in Twill is vital, so it is essential that I choose the right fit to fulfil Twill’s visions and values.

“I am also responsible for advising Twill’s leadership team on the people strategy and as a member of the Leadership team, I am actively involved in the overall company strategy. Some of my peers call me a “special HR”, namely a very business minded one. I take that as a compliment as that’s the only way to effect strategy as a Head of People.

“Beyond my work in this advisory role and recruiting staff, I also support Twill’s roll-out to new countries. I’ll be involved with this from an early stage, mainly liaising with the human resources in either a specific area or country so that Twill is able to recruit the right people for the job and challenges that might face that specific region.”

How would you describe your role from a customer perspective?
“I certainly feel as though my role as Head of People delivers value to our customers. Our focus on delivering simplicity and results for our customers is a result of the careful selection of people me and my team recruit, and the culture within Twill that we help to foster. It is always a pleasure to hear about Twill delivering the right customer experience, as it evidences the fact that we have the right people working in Twill and are building the right culture.”

What’s your favourite thing about working at Twill?
“I am lucky to get to live my purpose: build the company I want to work for and lead colleagues around me from the heart. I am grateful and humbled to have this opportunity at work because I know it can be rare!”

The Life of an Infrastructure Developer

At Twill we want to give our customers and the general public a glimpse into how our company runs on a day to day basis – as well as the people who make it tick. Our ‘Day in the Life’ blog series continues this week as we spoke to Jeroen Zeegers, an Infrastructure Developer in the Twill Tech team, on what his job entails and what an average day looks like for him:

What does your job as an Infrastructure Developer entail?

“As an Infrastructure Developer at Twill I, along with my colleagues, am in charge of building and maintaining the infrastructure that the Twill platform runs on – that could mean managing services from third parties or ensuring we have enough resource to maintain a reliable and smooth service.

“It also means the security of our platform. Our customers trust us with information regarding the supply chain of their products, to protect this we make sure that we work according to industry best practices regarding security. This is an important part of my day-to-day working.”

Could you describe what your average day looks like?

“Well, as many people at Twill will testify, no day is quite the same – there are always exciting developments and new challenges to face. However, usually I will come into the office and the first thing I do is review the Twill platform’s performance overnight. This is crucial because I am based in the Netherlands – which means when I’m asleep, some of our biggest customer bases in Asia are just opening for business.

“If there have been any errors or issues then I will look to fix these. There have been times when I’ve had to solve an issue in the night! But those are rare now because our platform continues to get better and stronger with each development.

“Outside of these things I’m usually looking into ways to make Twill even more reliable for customers all around the world. One way that I check this is by seeing how fast our loading times are, and I check this in 30 different locations – from the U.S. to Vietnam and Netherlands to China – because, while everyone is accessing the same platform, the speed at which they can access it might differ from country to country.”

Are you involved heavily in new Twill features?

“Yes, absolutely, I will often be there from the start of a new feature being created – because our team is part of designing the functionality of that feature. I need to ensure that we have efficient resource to sustain a new feature without losing loading times, for example.

“It can be a bit of a balancing act – because in an ideal world you can have a platform that has a lot of features and is also super-fast and super-secure. But the reality is that each of these things impacts the others, so you have to tweak and work each day to get the balance right.”

What’s your favourite thing about working at Twill?

“More than anything I am really proud of the work we’re doing at Twill. We have grown to a point where almost anywhere in the world you have a Twill location near you – which means you have people who understand the specific needs and demands of your country and your market.

“As well as this, we’re working with some of the most recent innovations in cloud technology. As the shipping industry continues to modernise, it really feels like we’re on the forefront of that and that’s really exciting!”