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Selecting the right customs software, where to focus on?

21 Nov 2019

4 min read

With the Brexit around the corner, the booming stream of goods from China and the online globalization in general, the need for a correct adjustment with customs rises enormously. You want to get through your procedures as fast as possible, but this should not interfere the relationship with customs. Moreover, you need to live by the laws and rules of your local customs authority. The right customs software can help you with this balance; a good system streamlines your processes, while it keeps the ones of customs in mind. If you decide to go for customs software, what should you focus on during the selection procedure?

5 attention points when selecting the right customs software

When selecting the right customs software, five attention points apply. This goes for compliance, functionality, automation possibilities, integration and the dashboard. Below, I will explain these points of attention for you.

Compliance: be compliant to the latest requirements

Naturally, you want to work like you always do. But when it comes to information exchange with customs, you might want to limit your personal preferences. Because customs has strict demands regarding the how, when and what kind of information they receive. Save yourself a headache dossier and make sure that your software complies to their administrative requirements. Check beforehand what these requirements are and test if your potential supplier is up-to-date.

Functionality: does the solution support all necessary customs streams?

Not all customs flow are the same. For example, do you carry out the administrative tasks of excise duty? Then customs requires a completely different tax return than when you bring in animal products, for example. Create a checklist of the customs flows that your software needs to cover.

Manual or automation: what fits your organization best?

Would you like to register data manually? Or do you prefer to digitize the process from beginning to end? Both options are possible. Is the number of tax returns within limits? Then a completely automated digital process is often unnecessarily expensive. Do you weekly send tens – or hundreds – of tax returns? Than a manual registration can become a time consuming task for which you might not have the resources. Moreover, this enlarges the margin error. In that case, an automated solution quickly repays itself.

Tip: Always inform if a manual intervention is possible. Because chances are big that on strategic points, you want to integrate customs technical checks.

Integration: effortlessly exchange information with customs

In Belgium the return process with customs is fully automated. In a similar case, you will not get away with a CSV-file that they need to upload themselves. Therefore, most customs software systems offer the possibility to realize an integration with customs. Check which connections are needed and if the software has these connections by default. For the implementation procedure and -costs, it makes quite a difference if you receive a connection out-of-the-box or if the supplier needs to realize it first.

Tip: Often you – besides customs – deal with your customers’ system a lot as well. And perhaps your organization makes use of several systems for WMS, TMS or freight forwarding. Always check if your customs software is easy to integrate with these systems. With interface you can easily limit manual activities, prevent errors and reduce costs. Win-win.

Dashboard: prevent problems with realtime monitoring

On a daily basis, you send and receive a ton of messages. So it might occur that a message gets stuck. For example if the needed data is not where it should be or specific feedback from customs is overseen. In those cases, a dashboard offers a way out to see in a glance which messages need some extra attention. This will help you get insight in the status of your messages and you can focus on the exceptions.

Select the right customs software based on your own preferences

As in many cases, there is no best solution when it comes to customs software. It all depends on multiple factors, including your own processes and preferences. Does your software support your processes? Does it easily match the systems of your customers and partners? A few questions you need to ask yourself if you get into the selection procedure. And a few questions we will most definitely ask you if you knock on our door. Because what is most important, is that the software will help your organization to get along.


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