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Category Archives: Freight Solutions

What does Brexit mean for UK companies?

With Brexit having officially come into effect at the start of 2021, new rules have altered the way many processes happen for a wide variety of industries that trade between the UK and the EU. From these industries, UK businesses have had to suffer worry, confusion and uncertainty over how dealing with the EU could impact their company and whether it could cause any significant damage.

In an effort to calm these concerns, this blog looks at how Brexit will affect UK companies, breaking down both positive and negative side effects of the change.

How will Brexit affect UK companies?

For any UK business that imports or exports goods to or from the EU, Brexit is bound to have an impact. In some cases, it could negatively affect how businesses run and the ability to keep customers and service users loyal. However, in many other cases, it could also pose a number of significant benefits that could improve the service they provide.

Below, we’ve separated the implications of Brexit that could negatively and positively affect UK companies:

A business discussing the impact Brexit could have.

Why is Brexit bad for business?

Reasons why Brexit may be bad for UK businesses that trade with the EU include:

Major changes to import / export

Even before Brexit was confirmed, it was predicted that the flow of goods between the UK and EU nations could be disrupted. For UK businesses, it’s important to have assurances in place that guarantee no significant delays to the movement of goods – like those seen in January 2021 – or any hefty charges occur. In an effort to prevent business from being hindered by potential restrictions caused by Brexit, many companies stockpiled resources in preparation. However, in reality, businesses in the UK and EU countries are unlikely to be impacted providing core relationships are maintained.

It could be that many UK business owners are worrying about their ability to continue trading as usual following Brexit, particularly with new trading rules and additional charges in place. Although many of the rules in regards to moving goods between the UK and the EU have changed, the fact that the UK government agreed a trade deal with the EU means that trade without tariffs could continue. However, for UK businesses to trade with countries within the EU, they must apply for an Economic Operator Registration Identification (EORI) number, as well as an EORI number for the country they’re trading with.

Restrictions for EEA members of staff

UK businesses have often utilised a mix of skilled migrant and British workers. But with the freedom of movement now ended, it will be more difficult for European Economic Area (EEA) members of staff who’ve been working in the UK to continue to do so.

Under the new rules, visa eligibility for EU and non-EU migrants will be based on a point based system. In this structure, 50 points will be based on a job offer from an approved employer sponsor and 20 points will be based on multiple factors, with 70 points needed for eligibility. Since the Brexit referendum, there’s been an estimated 70 per cent drop in EU migration, and as it’s harder to qualify to work following the change to rules, it’s expected that many businesses will opt to minimise the amount of staff they have and upskill their current employees.

Unconfirmed trade deals with certain countries

Fortunately, the UK government has agreed on trade deals with many countries including Cameroon, Chile, Egypt, Iceland, Israel, Kenya, Kosovo, Lebanon, Lichtenstein, Moldova, Morocco, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Tunisia, Ukraine and Vietnam to name a few.

While trade deals are in place for a broad selection of countries, as things stand, the UK government hasn’t yet been able to establish deals with specific countries including Australia, Japan and the United States of America. It’s expected that trade deals for the remaining countries will be confirmed in the coming months, but in the meantime, businesses that trade to these countries may struggle to do so.

What are the benefits of Brexit to UK businesses?

Between having to adapt to new ways of working and facing uncertainty in some areas that haven’t yet been confirmed, it can be a worrying time for UK businesses. However, it also poses many promising benefits. They include:

Adapting to modern commerce

Many believe that the EU is in a poor state, and as Eurozone’s GDP was below its pre-crisis peak in the first quarter of 2015, there’s reason to believe that there’s truth behind these claims. If this is true, leaving the European market could give UK businesses more freedom and allow them to flourish in ways they may be unable to do if they remained as part of the EU.

Broader employment options

As with the previously mentioned negative that Brexit could limit the ability for UK businesses to hire or retain migrant workers, operating as a non-EU business could extend the number of non-EU employees they could consider hiring. In some instances, a highly skilled worker may be restricted by EU rules. But by not operating as an EU nation, a business could hire this employee that may otherwise be ineligible.

Growth in a variety of markets

By no longer operating within the European market, UK businesses aren’t limited by the rules, potentially broadening their horizons. In the case of countries like China and India who operate outside of the European Union, growth into new, profitable markets has mostly been positive, so the same opportunity is there for UK businesses.

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How will Brexit affect the shipping industry?

Following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, many different industries are likely to undergo significant changes as they adapt to a new way of operating. In some cases, it could offer a multitude of benefits, but for the shipping industry, for instance, it’s concerning that Brexit could cause delays and incur unexpected charges.

In an attempt to settle worries and explain the reality of the situation, this blog delves into how Brexit will affect the shipping industry and how the cost of shipping could be impacted.

Will Brexit affect shipping?

Due to the impact Brexit will have on borders and the movement of goods in and out of Europe, shipping will be significantly affected. Not only that, but the change is likely to infringe on both businesses and customers. Fortunately, however, it won’t impact shipping with every country as the UK has deals in place with many non-EU countries.


A warehouse worker preparing items for shipping under new Brexit rules.

How will Brexit affect shipping?

Although it could be argued that the overlying changes Brexit will have on shipping are primarily based on the time it takes and the cost of shipping, there are a number of factors that will cause these problems. They include:

Further information required for export shipments

In order for goods coming from the UK to pass through to an EU country, a wider selection of information must be provided. Along with expected details such as both the sender and recipient’s names, addresses and contact details, other more in-depth details such as the country of origin and the value, quantity and weight, will now also be required.

British businesses will also need an eight-digit commodity code for all items as well as an Economic Operator Registration (EORI) number to trade goods to and from the UK. HMRC provide this number upon request, but businesses are also required to apply for an EORI number from the European country they’re trading to, and any businesses operating from an EU nation will need to request an EORI number to export goods to the UK. 

Stricter border control and customs

Delays are often expected with shipments being made between separate countries. However, through Brexit, border control and customs will be more extensive, time consuming and require additional documentation.

As a result, the cost of shipping is likely to increase and the efficiency of the entire process could suffer. For many businesses, using a freight forwarder may be the natural solution as it means putting someone experienced in charge of all of these tasks. However, businesses will need to compare the cost of operating with or without a freight forwarder and decide whether or not it’s worth budgeting for.

Uncertain trade volumes

It’s predicted that there will be a temporary lull in the number of shipments between the UK and EU nations while Britain establishes itself within the global market. However, once this period ends and businesses are familiar with the new rules for trading with the EU, they can implement a structure for operating within this setup. But while this may allow them to trade as they used to, it’s likely to lead to an influx of shipments, causing a bottleneck and delaying a potentially vast number of deliveries.

What will happen to shipping costs when Brexit goes through?

With Brexit now enacted, many businesses and consumers may be concerned that the cost of shipping will skyrocket. Unfortunately, in some cases, shipping costs are four times more expensive post-Brexit.

However, it’s difficult to judge whether this is solely caused by the UK becoming separate from the EU as the coronavirus pandemic has also played a role in this change. For instance, in response to COVID-19, the French government opted to close the border in an effort to contain a new strain of the virus. But while this may have been the best decision in terms of protecting the health and wellbeing of people in the UK and France, it meant causing significant delays to road freight trucks.

It’s likely that the problem with shipping partly caused by the coronavirus pandemic was only a temporary issue, meaning it is still unclear whether further significant delays and hefty charges for purchasing items from the EU are set to continue. One of the conditions the UK government was able to agree with the EU was that there would be no additional charges on orders priced at £135 or less. Instead, the only charges will be for the cost of the item and postage and packaging, just as you would buying from the UK.

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How will Brexit affect freight forwarders?

Coming into action at the start of 2021, Brexit has had a big impact on the way the UK can trade with the EU and the rest of the world. Although this has affected multiple industries and many e-commerce businesses, it’s also significantly changed the way the freight industry and freight forwarders can operate.

In this blog, we explain how the changes to rules regarding freight caused by Brexit could impact the industry and freight forwarders as well as what that means for UK, European and worldwide logistics, and how freight companies may look to adapt to the change.

What Brexit means for freight

With the UK no longer being part of the EU, it also no longer operates within the single market or customs union. Instead, the UK government has established a trade and cooperation agreement with the EU.

In this agreement, the new rules for how freight processes can operate between the UK and Europe are outlined in thorough detail, with key sections including a partnership for security and new governance arrangements. It also includes a free trade agreement – a document that offers a number of benefits such as zero quotas and tariffs on all goods.

A freight forwarder discovering the extent to how Brexit has impacted logistics.

How will Brexit impact freight forwarders?

Although the trade and cooperation agreement between the EU and the UK is positive news for people within the freight industry, there are some changes that freight forwarders will need to pay special attention to.

Changes freight forwarders will need to adapt to include:

Import and export declarations

It’s predicted that Brexit could delay the process of bringing goods in and out of the UK. One of the new rules that could cause this delay is the requirement for freight forwarders to fill out customs declarations when importing and exporting goods.

They will also be required to fill out an exit summary declaration (EXS) for moving goods outside of the UK and an entry summary declaration (ENS) for moving goods into the country for security and safety reasons.

Licencing for importing and exporting

For a freight forwarder to bring certain goods into or out of the UK on the behalf of a company, they will need to apply for a special licence. For example, this is applicable for exporting chemicals, hazardous materials and waste. Although less strict, importing goods may require some form of licence for bringing in similar types of materials.

New rules of origin

Under the new rules, if goods being shipped don’t originate from the UK or EU, tariffs will apply. The new UK global tariff will replace the previous common external tariff, but the origin of the goods being shipped will be important to determining whether a freight forwarder will be required to pay tariffs on behalf of the customer. In comparison to the pre-Brexit rules, this is a significant change as there was previously a free flow of goods.

Obsolete trade agreements with non-EU nations

The UK leaving the EU not only means that the UK has now fallen out of agreements with EU member nations, but also the agreements EU nations have with other countries across the world such as Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Vietnam.

While the UK government finally agreed deals with a selection of non-EU nations at the start of 2021, there are many countries that the UK are currently unable to trade with. Although it’s hoped that an agreement will be made in the coming months, life could be difficult for freight forwarders at any point where a business in the UK looks to trade to or from a country that doesn’t have a trade agreement in place.

How many staff have freight forwarders recruited for Brexit?

As a result of Brexit, there are many new tasks and duties that freight forwarders have to carry out. Due to this, it’s expected that the process of shipping goods into or out of the UK could take significantly longer than it would prior to Brexit, and subsequently, freight forwarding companies have been said to be hiring an estimated 40,000 – 50,000 additional employees to speed up the process.

Other changes freight companies may need to consider as a way of adapting to the demands of Brexit include reassessing their processes to identify any areas that can be streamlined, adjusting their costing and time frames to reflect changes to the freight industry, and swapping the method of transportation if it means cutting costs and reducing delays. In some cases, freight forwarders may even go as far as changing geographical location to focusing solely on importing or exporting in specific countries that pose fewer restrictions.

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How an inventory management system works

In modern business, effective inventory management is a key factor in running a successful supply chain. Many businesses utilise inventories for a number of different reasons, but if they are not being managed properly, certain processes may not run smoothly, orders may be incorrectly organised, data could be lost, incomplete or inaccurate and the business may be spending more money or operating in a less efficient way than it otherwise could be.

A proven method of improving the effectiveness of inventory management – as well as related processes such as warehousing and distribution – is through implementing and sticking with a consistent inventory management system. In this blog, we explain what an inventory management system is, how it can help, what it can help with, the different types a business could consider using and how a business could begin to implement an effective inventory system.

What are inventory management systems?

Inventory management systems are structures that improve the ability to organise, track and monitor the supply chain. It encompasses every element of a business’ day-to-day operations, offers full transparency over the effectiveness of the supply chain and simplifies the ability to implement changes.

Two warehouse operatives using a digitised inventory management system.

What are the functions of inventory management systems?

A system that is designed to manage inventory is required to incorporate a potentially vast selection of different areas. But what exactly are these areas?

Primary functions of an inventory management system include:

  • Boost profitability
  • Better control stock
  • Enhance productivity and efficiency 
  • Ensure efficient time management
  • Improve quality of service
  • Increase effectiveness of supply and demand process
  • Organise supply chain process
  • Protect inventory
  • Reduce likelihood of stock-out and over-stock
  • Report on inventory
  • Track individual orders

What are the different types of inventory management systems?

While an inventory management system is an effective way of improving a business’ active supply chain, it isn’t a one size fits all process. Instead, there are different types of inventory management systems that work for different types of businesses. This could depend on the  size of a business or the specific industry it operates in. However, whatever a business’ specific circumstances, there will be a suitable inventory system that works for them.

Below, we’ve outlined a brief description of the primary inventory management systems.

Types of inventory management systems include:

Periodic inventory system

A traditional approach, a periodic inventory system is the process of physically counting all inventory items at specific, predetermined periods of time and recording this data in a written or digital database. The data from each time period can then be compared to determine whether new inventory is needed or any changes could be made to improve the supply chain process.

An advantage to this approach is that it’s tried and tested, and as it doesn’t necessarily require advanced technology, it’s quick and cost effective to implement. Automation is a common theme for many business processes, but a benefit that many business owners find with a periodic inventory system is that it is traditional and doesn’t rely on technology, allowing them to be in complete control.

Perpetual inventory system

Updating inventory data as soon as any changes are made or new stock is added. A digital computer programme is then used to identify when these changes happen and store all inventory data. Using a digitised system also means that barcode scanners or radio frequency identification tags can be utilised to improve the tracking and tracing of every inventory item.

Through using an entirely computerised system for inventory management, a business is given the benefit of data being accurate, precise and reliable. It also offers automation, allowing members of staff who may have otherwise had to store and update information manually to focus their attention to other tasks. Not only does this help small businesses that need to utilise the time of each staff member effectively, but also large businesses that have a lot of inventory, orders and data to manage.

Why use an inventory management system?

In a setting that uses any level of inventory – whether it’s various parts for manufacturing products or items that are being sold as part of an e-commerce business – an effective management system is fundamental to a functioning supply chain. Depending on the system a business chooses, key functions can be automated, reducing the likelihood of human error.

With all data on one platform, it can also simplify many previously complicated processes and make it far easier to identify any areas that the supply chain is lacking. Once these changes are recognised, an inventory management system facilitates the opportunity to implement potentially impactful and cost effective changes that could be valuable to the business.

How to implement an inventory management system

Many modern businesses will have some form of inventory management system. It could be the case that a business doesn’t have an inventory system in place, but as it can help with the organisation, effectiveness and efficiency of a supply chain, it would be worth considering.

However, the decision to start using an inventory system is only the first step. Investing in an effective inventory management system is something that takes a lot of thought and research. But first, there are several factors that need to be considered. For instance, in order for an inventory system to work, a business needs to have a warehouse or another storage facility that can be used as a basis for organising and managing inventory. It would also help to compile business data for all forms of inventory so it’s ready for adding to the system. At this point, the most suitable strategy can be chosen based on the business’ specific needs, requirements and processes.

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How will Brexit affect logistics?

At the start of 2021, the Brexit transition period came to an end altering the relationship between the UK and Europe, and changing the way goods are transported between the two areas. But despite the seemingly endless talks between the UK and the EU, the actual impact Brexit has had on how the logistics industry operates is still far from clear.

Below, we explain the predicted impact Brexit will have on European logistics and outline the considerations UK businesses that ship to and from the EU will have to bear in mind when it comes to import and export logistics in the future.

How will Brexit impact logistics?

With Brexit affecting borders, transportation and multiple aspects of how goods are transported every day, there are many different changes that will alter the way the logistics industry functions. Not only that, but the impact of Brexit could lead to more time needed for processes that were previously quicker and more money spent on tasks that used to be cheaper.

Changes to logistics caused by Brexit may include:

  • Delays at borders
  • Increase to fuel price
  • Increase to the cost of wages
  • Longer delivery times
  • More custom checks and inspections
  • Reduced trade
  • Stricter border control

A UK freight lorry arriving at customs in the EU

How will Brexit affect import and export logistics?

For logistics companies, an understandable concern with the introduction of Brexit is how it could impact how import and export logistics is carried out. Transporting goods to other countries in the EU is something that happens every day, and if a period of adjustment to Brexit could mean restrictions to this process, logistics companies throughout Britain may be significantly affected.

When it comes to import and export logistics, UK businesses need to bear in mind:


Depending on the goods being transported, you may need a specific export licence as the EU and individual companies require clearance before certain items enter. For example, consumables would need an export health certificate, undergo additional checks and be entered into the EU through a specified border inspection post (BIP).

Commodity/tariff codes

For exporting goods to the EU, specific codes need to be shown on custom documents. The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System has all of the codes you may need to move goods from the UK to the EU, so you will need to make sure that you’re using the correct codes or face additional tariffs.

Documentation for transport

With the UK no longer being a part of the EU, the transportation routes may be changed and more limited than they were before. Drivers will also need to carry export licences, an ATA Carnet document for moving goods out of the UK temporarily and a TiR Cabinet document if goods are being moved in a sealed compartment.

As crossing the border in and out of the EU as a non-EU country has become more restricted, drivers will be forced to provide documentation regarding their vehicle such as insurance, tachograph charts, confirmation that the vehicle is approved for crossing into the EU and details for how the vehicle is secured with a thorough checklist provided.

EORI numbers

If they don’t already have one, UK businesses will be required to obtain a UK Economic Operator Registration Identification (EORI) number from HMRC to trade goods to and from the UK. They will also need to obtain a UK EORI from the custom authority of the European country they trade with to move goods in and out of the EU.

Likewise, businesses in the European Union will need to apply for a UK EORI to transport goods to and from the UK.

Product labelling

It’s always true that products should be labelled correctly, but with Brexit impacting logistics, items need to reflect that they’re coming from the UK – a now third country location – and not the EU. Due to this, goods from the UK should no longer be given an EU label.


Due to Brexit, the price of shipping has increased, with import VAT being charged on items valued above £135, but exported goods being given zero-rate VAT. For UK businesses, it’s important that this is understood and they decide a way to account for this increase in price. Options include giving customers the chance to pay VAT and duties at the point of purchase or charging the same price but leaving customers to pay VAT and duties when their items arrive.

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How to manage inventory

For any business that uses a warehouse or storage facility to maintain stock, inventory management is a crucial process that, if done well, improves the effectiveness of the supply chain. By implementing an inventory management process that works, businesses can ensure that the items they need are available when a purchase is made and materials are available for products to be manufactured. In turn, customers won’t see a significant delay to orders, the reputation of the business will remain intact and the supply chain will run as smoothly as possible.

A fully functioning inventory management process is a key part in the running of a business of any size. As such, it’s important that business owners analyse their own to ensure that it’s not lacking in any area that could cause harm to their supply chain, their business or their reputation. In this blog, we explain the core objectives of inventory management before offering advice on managing inventory and how you can improve the inventory management process.

What are the objectives of inventory management?

The primary objective of inventory management is to ensure that business processes involving inventory are operational in the most effective

way possible. It’s also important that the finances around inventory management are monitored in such a way that the optimum service is provided without overspending unnecessarily. However, other objectives to inventory management include:

  • Aligning with sales activities to avoid financial loss
  • Avoiding overstocking or understocking
  • Building a consistent structure to benefit the ordering process
  • Carrying out both short and long-term planning using relevant data
  • Centralising purchasing
  • Controlling cost of materials
  • Ensuring continuous availability of in-demand inventory
  • Meeting customer demands
  • Minimising losses from damages, deterioration, pilferage and wastage
  • Monitoring fluctuation in the value of the stock to keep prices reasonable.

A warehouse worker managing inventory by scanning item barcodes.

How do you manage your inventory?

As the previously mentioned range of objectives suggest, managing inventory incorporates a number of duties and considerations.

A typical inventory management process is as follows:

  1. Based on the service you provide, determine what goods you need. For example, if you’re a manufacturer, identify the materials you need to make products, or if you sell pre-made goods, focus on having enough stock to sell to customers.
  2. Conduct market research to understand which items are selling and which aren’t. After you’ve done this, use your findings to decide what items you need and which items may not be valuable enough to keep.
  3. Work out the quantity of items you need in your inventory, the cost of delivery for these items and the storage space they use up. Facilitate more stock and storage for items that are more in-demand, and less for items that aren’t.
  4. Calculate a minimum stock level, and when your stock reaches this level, use it as an indication that you need to replenish. You can then identify how long it usually takes for stock to drop and preempt replenishment.
  5. Order items in your warehouse based on demands, with more in-demand items at the front, allowing for quicker shipping.
  6. Use a manual or computerised system to note down specific information about all item details such as name, description, value, location in the warehouse and supplier. You can then keep track of how long it takes for the supplier to provide these items and monitor stock to know when to replenish.
  7. Apply suitable security tags to all items in your inventory as a way of guarding against thieves. For additional theft prevention measures, ensure that the warehouse is secure and only authorised people are allowed in.
  8. Use an electronic programme for scanning barcodes on each item as a way of tracking sales automatically and keeping tabs on stock more easily.

How to improve inventory management process

If you have an existing inventory management process but believe it isn’t entirely effective, you may want to consider ways to improve it. Below, we’ve outlined some factors you should look at that could benefit your inventory management process:

Data analysis –

Using real-time data can help you to understand the inventory management process from an organisational level and see whether or not it’s performing as it should be. At this point, an inventory manager can choose to alter different aspects of the inventory management process depending on their findings.

Mobile management –

Technology is frequently regarded as a crucial tool for bringing traditional processes into the 21st century and, in turn, boosting results. One way of utilising technology effectively is by using a mobile application. Through this type of technology, you can keep track of inventory, document product details, pricing, offers and promotions, and monitor real-time order status and changes to stock.

Segmentation –

By breaking down your existing inventory management process, you can analyse every part, identify what works and what doesn’t, and make changes based on these observations. Carrying out this process could mean minimising operational costs, maximising profits, removing unneeded components and boosting efficiency.

Tools –

With technology constantly evolving, inventory management is made easy with platforms, programmes and tools that automate many of the tasks that were previously conducted by human operators. Bringing one, or several, of these elements into your inventory management process could mean cutting costs, speeding up processes and allowing employees to work on other, more pressing tasks.

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The UK’s top importers pre-Brexit and future opportunities

Brexit has given rise to confusion and concern among businesses and consumers alike where importation is concerned. While the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement is available for all to read, the reality of what the deal means is yet to be fully understood by a lot of British businesses and customers. 

With many asking what the future of UK trade will look like, we’ve created a map of Britain’s traditional trade partners (based on information from the Office for National Statistics for November 2019 and November 2020) and highlighted opportunities that could be exploited despite the challenges that Brexit presents.

Top importers to the UK

So, which countries were the top importers to the UK pre-Brexit? 



Germany sits at the top of the table, having moved £30,875.83 million worth of goods to the UK between November 2019 to November 2020. This European Union (EU) country was one of the UK’s largest overall trading partners between January and June 2020, coming second only to the United States.


China was the second biggest importer between November 2019 and November 2020. In total, the East Asian country imported £22,953.33 million worth of goods during this period. China was the UK’s fifth largest trading partner in the first half of 2020.

United States

In third position, the UK’s top trading partner, the United States exported £16,056.82 million worth of goods to Britain in the twelve months from November 2019.


Coming in fourth place, the Netherlands sent £13,268.46 million worth of goods to the UK in this period. This EU country also ranks in fourth position when it comes to overall trading with the UK.


The UK imported £10,069.62 worth of goods from Norway, making this non-EU member European country our fifth largest importer during this timeframe. 

Future opportunities

Pre-Brexit, the UK benefited from any trade deal the EU had made with a non-EU country. When Britain left the EU on 31 January 2020, the EU had approximately 40 trade deals in place across 70 countries.

The UK has negotiated deals with 63 of these countries that will enable us to continue trading in the same way as before. 

The UK signed its first major trade deal as an independent trading nation with Japan in October 2020. The agreement is designed to benefit British businesses and citizens in a way that the EU deal did not, particularly in relation to digital and data, financial services, food and drink, and creative industries. 

The government has also announced that it would apply to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a free trade deal with 11 Asia and Pacific countries including Australia, Canada and New Zealand. 

Separate talks are being held with the US, Australia and New Zealand to agree on new trade deals that should pave the way for closer trade relationships with these countries.

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A simple guide to importing your goods into the UK

Importing goods into the UK from other countries may seem like a complex process at first – and you may feel even further confused by how it works in the post-Brexit and COVID-19 world that we’re currently living in. However, as long as you understand the basics and follow the correct procedures that are currently in place, you should find that you’re still able to move your goods with ease. 

To get yourself up-to-date on the latest process, check out our handy guide which includes tips on how you can make importing your goods into the UK go smoothly from start to finish.

Get an EORI number

In order to import goods between England, Scotland and Wales and other countries, you’ll need to get an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number that begins with GB. To move goods between Northern Ireland and other countries, you will need a EORI that begins with XI.

You can apply for an EORI number via the government website. It takes around five to 10 minutes, and you should be given your EORI number straight away. This may take a little longer if you are applying for an EORI number beginning with XI, or if HMRC need to carry out more checks.

Decide who will make your customs declarations and transport your goods

In order to import goods, you will need to figure out how to physically transport them into the country, and you will need to fill out the relevant customs declaration documentation too. You can find the documents you need on the government website.

You can make your custom declarations and organise to transport your goods yourself. However, most businesses hire freight and logistics companies to do this on their behalf. For example, you could use a freight forwarding company, such as Freightline Carriers, to help you move your goods and assist you in making the appropriate customs declarations.

Find out the commodity code for your goods

When it comes to completing your import declaration documentation, you’ll need to include the commodity code for your goods. Usually a long string of numbers, a commodity code classifies your goods for import, and  determines the import VAT and rate of duty you need to pay and if you will need an import licence.

If you have enlisted the help of a company to manage your imports, they may be able to assist you in finding the commodity codes for your goods. Alternatively, you can refer to the government website to find the right code.

importing goods

Calculate your goods value

To help work out how much duty and VAT you’ll need to pay, you will need to calculate your goods value and declare this on your import documentation. There are six different methods of working out the value of your goods, all of which are explained in detail on the government’s website.

Check the tariff rates that apply to goods you import

It’s important to check the tariff rates that apply to the goods you’re importing too. The UK Global Tariff (UKGT) applies to any goods that are imported in the UK, although there are some exceptions. For example, it does not apply if the country you’re importing from has a trade agreement with the UK.

The tariff-rate quota (TRQ) may apply for certain products. If there is a TRQ in place for the products you want to import, you may be able to import a specific amount at a lower or even a zero customs duty rate, so it’s worth double checking.

Find out if you can reduce/delay your customs duty.

Check if you need a certificate or licence to import your goods

There are special rules in place for importing certain types of goods, such as animals, plants, high risk food, controlled drugs, hazard chemicals and much more. In order to import these items, you will need to check if you require a certificate or licence. If you fail to get the appropriate documentation, you may face a hefty fine, so it’s best to check first.

Get your goods through customs

At this point, if you’ve appointed someone to help you with your import declarations, they should then get your goods through customs.

Organise for your goods to be released

You may find that your goods are held up at the border. This can happen for a number of reasons. For example, your goods may not have passed the inspection stage, you do not have the right import certificate or licence or you have not paid the right amount of VAT or duty. If there is a problem with releasing your goods, you will be given instruction on what to do next. Once this has been resolved, your goods will be released and can be forwarded on to their final destination.

To learn about the importing process in more detail, get in touch with Freightline Carriers. Our experts are on hand to help assist you with the importing process every step of the way.

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What is inventory management?

Inventory management refers to the processes a business puts in place in order to organise and control the ordering, tracking and storing of their stock. This can include everything from the ordering of raw materials or finished products and automated stock-check methods to keep this stock replenished, to the organisation of storing or warehousing this inventory. 

Well-implemented inventory management will govern the entire flow of goods, from the point a business purchases them right through to the point of sale. Ideally, this process should ensure that your business always has the right quantities of all items/products needed in the correct location and at the right time. 

However, in order to successfully utilise inventory management, it is important that you fully understand the basics. Read on to learn about the importance of procurement management, the specifics of how inventory management works in practice, and the crucial ‘four questions’ of inventory management you always need to remember.

What is procurement and inventory management?

While inventory management is an umbrella term that covers everything from ordering materials and other items of stock, to cataloging them in a business’ central logging system and physically finding a space to store them, procurement refers specifically to one part of this process. Put simply, procurement is the acquisition of the right quantity and quality of goods, stock and/or services your business needs, achieved at the best possible cost, at the correct time and place to directly benefit your business. 

The key to successfully navigating this aspect of supply chain management includes identifying the right suppliers to meet your stock needs, establishing good relationships with these suppliers and achieving the best possible price when purchasing the inventory you need from them. Keeping track of what your business currently has in stock and knowing what you need to buy and when is also key. In today’s modern marketplace, medium-to-large businesses will typically use some kind of inventory management software to help them properly organise and manage their inventory procurement needs.

a business owner checking inventory figures on a tablet

How inventory management works

No matter how large or small, all businesses should use some kind of inventory management system in place. There are two kinds of inventory systems, periodic and perpetual. Periodic inventory management systems are typically used by smaller, independent retailers and sole traders, and require little technology. Under this system, a business will only carry out a full stock take periodically and list what stock they currently have. They will then use this figure to update a balance sheet manually. These stock checks usually happen only once or twice a year, or, if the business is particularly busy during a certain season – for example, Christmas, Valentines’ Day, or the summer. If this is the case, inventory checks can be taken on an ad hoc basis, as and when the owner feels one is required. From the resulting figures, the business can work out the cost of goods sold (COGS), as well as being able to more accurately decide what needs to be ordered in order to replenish stock.

As the name suggests, perpetual inventory management systems are in operation all year round and tend to be far more sophisticated methods of stock control. Typically used by larger businesses, the inventory count is updated constantly with the help of technology. Online trackers or the electronic cash registers (ECRs), for example, use barcodes to automatically record a sale, and inventory management software will update the business’ records to show that one less of the specific item purchased is available for sale. In turn, this will alert the business owner, or a procurement team, if the business is now running low on that item and if more need to be ordered. Automatic procurement can also be set up, meaning an item can be re-ordered as soon as the number of items in stock hits a certain level. As well as making the inventory and procurement management processes much simpler, automated perpetual inventory management systems can also update the business’ revenue tracker and balance sheets automatically, meaning that keeping your books in order is also much easier.

Why is inventory management important?

Properly implemented inventory management not only allows your business to keep track of its stock and help you decide when it’s time to replenish supplies of a certain goods, it actively saves your business money and helps to ensure you can keep your customers satisfied. The processes involved in successful inventory management allow you to make strong business decisions and the right purchasing decisions. It can also ensure you receive the real-time information you need about which products sell well and which don’t. This allows you to order more of what you know to be a good seller and cut back on the items not performing well, leading to maximised profits.

Additionally, inventory management can prevent you from tying up too much money in stock, which can create cash flow problems and even solvency issues. On the other side of the coin,  not spending enough on stock can hurt your customer service if you are unable to deliver the products/services you have promised due to inadequate stock levels. Finding the perfect middleground is far easier with proper inventory management.

What are the four questions of inventory management?

When it comes to what you need to remember in order to properly implement a successful inventory management system, there are four questions you should always be asking yourself. These are especially important if you are not using inventory management software to help you automate the process. The four questions are: 

What to order?

Knowing which goods/products your stockroom/warehouse is running low on, and whether or not this product is selling well-enough to order more is vital. It’s a fine balance – buying too many could leave too much revenue tied up in stock you can’t shift, however, not having enough to satisfy customer demand can damage your business’ reputation.

When to order?

To answer this question, it’s important to take into account how many specific items you still have left in stock, how quickly they are selling and how long a new supply will take to arrive. 

How much to order?

Once again, deciding on quantities is a fine balance between satisfying customer demand and ordering too much of a certain product. Remember, not only is business money tied up in stock you can’t sell, correctly storing the items could be an additional expense. Seasonal sales could be a key factor when answering this question. 

Where is the customer / where to stock it?

This is important if you have a number of retail outlets/platforms. If the target market for a specific item is located in a specific area, ensuring the inventory is managed with this in mind is key. For example, if you run a sports equipment company with shops located all over the country, you may stock surfboards that are a high-demand product in seaside locations during the summer. With this information at hand, inventory management can prevent you from mistakenly stockpiling surfboards in stores that are not located near the sea.

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How will Brexit affect business?

As of 1 January 2021, the UK officially ended its 48 year relationship with the EU as the Brexit transition period finally came to an end. While some UK businesses may not yet have felt the impact of Brexit, others certainly have, with those that heavily rely on smooth imports and exports from the continent most affected in these early days of post-Brexit Britain. 

Naturally, firms that offer freight services and logistics business have been one of the first industries to experience the initial effects of Brexit, with the process of moving goods between all areas of Great Britain and the EU understandably now more complicated. For many businesses, there are still a number of questions to be answered. What businesses will be most affected by Brexit going forward, is the current disruption at UK ports something freight companies will need to just get used to, and which businesses are most likely to benefit from Britain’s independence from European governance? In this article, we answer all of these questions and more. 

What businesses will be affected by Brexit?

The simple answer is that all UK businesses will be affected by Brexit in one way or another, whether that’s primarily caused by the potential logistical and economic knock-on impacts brought on by the change, or things as fundamental as manpower shortages in some sectors due to a decrease in migrant workers. Although it’s too early to tell which specific businesses in the UK might be affected most, it’s certainly fair to assume that some industries will be hit harder than others. For example, any businesses that either trade internationally, or business-to-business firms that facilitate the logistical processes of imports and exports, are likely to see the greatest change and feel the largest impact. This includes a huge proportion of the UK’s economy and affects every sector from the retail and grocery industries, to fishing, farming and manufacturing.

Naturally, UK businesses that rely on suppliers or customers based in continental Europe should be braced for the biggest impact, along with the freight, haulage and logistics companies that enable them to operate and trade internationally. However, even those businesses that trade primarily with non-EU member states should prepare for a certain level of change and possible disruption, as all foreign trade to Britain is likely to be affected by the loss of access to the EU’s free trade agreements.

shipping containers with EU and British flags reflecting post-Brexit export and import restrictions

How will businesses be affected by Brexit?

Businesses will be impacted by Brexit in a variety of ways. Some of the most common effects on UK businesses will include:

  • Custom changes – with the end of free trade between Britain and members of the EU, any businesses wishing to import/export goods will now have to meet new customer rules which may be time-consuming. This includes filling out more documentation at borders, ensuring VAT is properly paid, and making sure product standards are met, particularly when trading livestock, foodstuffs and restricted goods such as alcohol and tobacco.
  • Supply-chain disruptions – with delays caused by increased customs checks at British ports and airports, disruption to major supply chains, including in the UK’s key grocery and manufacturing industries, are to be expected as the UK adapts life after Brexit. This has already been experienced in early 2021. Increased supply-chain costs caused by hard customs checks and delays at borders all have knock-on effects, but look here to stay.
  • Workforce issues – with no more freedom of movement, UK businesses that rely on high numbers of migrant workers could find it difficult to recruit the staff they need, especially at the same low costs. This is likely to impact low-skilled, labour-intensive work, including farm and factory jobs that are crucial to the UK’s economy. 
  • Regulation – as a rule, the UK largely adheres to European-standards when it comes to trading standards, workers’ rights and consumer protection. How the UK adapts to setting new post-Brexit regulation in these areas could play a huge role in how and which businesses are most affected.

What businesses will benefit from Brexit?

Although it’s impossible to say with any real certainty what businesses will benefit from Brexit in these early post-transition days, it is important to consider that a number of new opportunities for UK businesses could arise as a result of leaving the EU. From the ability to find and forge new trade deals and relationships with suppliers in other areas of the world to, in theory at least, not having to adhere to EU regulations (that some believe stifle business growth in the UK), it will be the businesses that adapt to these various changes the quickest and prepare for Britain’s new business environment most ardently that stand to not only survive but actually thrive post-Brexit. 

How Brexit could change business in Britain

When it comes to how Brexit may change business in the UK, the key areas that are likely to significantly alter all revolve around international trade. As already discussed, customs checks now have to be more thorough and time-consuming, meaning well-established supply-chains have been, and will continue to be, disrupted. While it is still early days, and businesses that rely on international trade may be able to adapt to these post-Brexit changes, many may have to consider amending their business plans and focus more on domestic trade where possible. In theory, this could give the UK’s manufacturing, farming and fishing industries a boost, for example. 

However, for those businesses where regular international trade is a fundamental part of their operations, the biggest changes Brexit is likely to cause – for the short-term at least – are longer waiting times when it comes to receiving goods from abroad, increased import/export costs, disrupted supply-chains, and more complications and barriers in terms of shipping, freight and general international logistics.

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