How to Build an ROI Case for Customs Software

Jan 26, 2021 | Industry

Customs compliance is continually evolving to satisfy emerging government regulations, both at home and abroad. As a result, whether you’re a customs broker, freight forwarder, or importer, any company that deals with supply chain and international trade processes and policies, you’ll be best-served by modern customs solutions that help streamline key operations, reduce shipping delays, and limit the potential risks of non-compliance.

Advanced customs software tools offer a way to better manage key requirements – without breaking the bank. For many C-suites, however, cost savings isn’t enough to justify spend. Here’s a primer on how to build a compelling and realistic ROI case for customs software.

What is Customs Software?

Customs software (also commonly referred to as customs clearance software or customs brokerage software) covers a host of import and export operations and applications. Best-of-breed solutions are typically ACE-certified ABI offerings that have the scalability to help small self-fliers, medium-sized customs brokers and freight forwarders, and enterprise-level FTZ and CFS operators.

While this technology relies on key compliance regulations to ensure conformity with legislation such as the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTEA), individual offerings vary significantly across form and function.

Generally speaking, a top-tier customs solution must include:

Automatic updates

As CBP and other customs authorities change tariff schedules and customs obligations, companies need a way to stay current. Customs software with automatic, no-charge updating helps ensure that businesses are never left behind.

Real-time response

In these volatile times, changes to shipment timelines, waybill expectations, or security obligations can occur with little warning. As a result, it’s critical for other importers to leverage software tools capable of delivering real-time responses and notifications to reduce potential downtime.

Easy-to-use UI

Software is only as good as its user interface (UI). Even the most powerful tools won’t deliver ROI if users can’t figure out how to access key features or functions. User-friendly designs are fundamental to gain a full return on investment from your customs software.

Cloud-based operations

The sheer volume of data generated by customs processes makes local storage and processing prohibitive. Cloud-based customs solutions mean no expensive hardware investments. Plus, you benefit from the flexibility offered by on-demand customs application access from any device, anytime.

Exploring the ROI Impact

Return on investment (ROI) now drives discussions around solution adoption and uptake across market verticals. Consider IT: Once a costly line item, technology initiatives now form part of key revenue strategies, and new solutions are always evaluated based on their ability to deliver upfront, ongoing, and sustainable ROI.

The same is true of customs software solutions. While the front-line case for deploying these tools is to boost compliance and reduce risk, it’s hard to quantify these benefits. Instead, management teams want to know how customs software solutions are going to improve business operations and, over time, justify their initial costs and ongoing operational expenses (OpEX).

Put simply? Customs management tools no longer exist in isolation. Instead, they’re part of a larger, ROI-driven landscape that focuses on both incremental and interoperative advantages that deliver reliable ROI.

Making the Case for Customs Software

Whether you operate a customs brokerage, an import company, or another logistics services business, you need to make an ROI-driven case for customs software adoption.

The first step is communication. Since most C-suite decision-makers aren’t familiar with the ins-and-outs of customs compliance, regulation, and reporting, attempts to highlight the technical benefits of customs software will often fall on deaf ears. As a result, making the case demands the effective articulation of line-of-business benefits gained through company-wide adoption.

Three key advantages stand out:

1) Avoid costly fines and penalties

Even small errors in customs filings, product information, or waybill details can result in shipments being held at their point of exit or entry, in turn racking up significant penalties day after day. And even then, if shipments are cleared for transport, failure to satisfy all compliance requirements may lead to substantial fines. Here, the ROI case for customs software is simple: 

Advanced, integrated tools can detect potential errors before the customs declaration is filed and shipments are en route, in turn reducing the risk of fines or penalties.

2) Save time and effort

As customs processes become more detailed and complex – consider the push for component-level product traceability, for example – it’s easy for staff to get overwhelmed with day-to-day data entry operations. 

What’s even more worrisome: stressed and overworked staff make mistakes, in turn putting businesses at risk of regulatory non-compliance. A customs software solution can help automate key processes such as data collection and report filing, in turn saving companies both time and money.

3) Boost overall productivity

Bureaucratic customs procedures can negatively impact productivity as staff spends more and more time checking and double-checking regulatory requirements instead of getting shipments out the door. 

In many cases, freight forwarding companies, brokers, and importers are stuck leveraging legacy tools to help streamline the customs process. These aging solutions often lack interoperability and automation, making them ideal for specialized functions but of limited use for compliance at scale.

Next-gen customs software tools, meanwhile, offer user-friendly all-in-one dashboards to provide complete compliance visibility, in turn allowing teams to quickly find and implement new, more productive operational processes that underpin ROI.

Customs compliance is rapidly becoming more complex as governments look to verify any goods entering or leaving their country while still enabling cross-border business. The result is a moving target – companies must ensure they’re meeting current regulations but may find themselves behind the curve despite best efforts.

A comprehensive, cloud-based customs software system can help companies bridge the gap between knowledge and action with automatic updates and real-time reporting, in turn allowing businesses to meet regulatory challenges without sacrificing ROI.

How Magaya Can Help

The ACELYNK Navigator Pro platform is a cloud-based, ACE-certified ABI solution built to keep you compliant, while streamlining your customs compliance workflows. 

The Navigator Pro platform gives you real-time visibility into all your transactions, duties, fees, and CBP response messages in a single window, saving you valuable time.  

Plus, the integrated billing module enables easy, fast, and accurate invoicing, keeping you on top of your accounts receivables. 

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