Data quality in cross-border e-commerce: optimising the logistics of your supply chain with data

Christian Kautzsch  |  04.07.2024  |  Time to read 6 Min
datenqualitaet-im-ecommerce
Inhaltsverzeichnis

Data quality in logistics: your success factor for international e-commerce companies

In cross-border shipping, the data quality must be top, otherwise it will be really difficult with your international expansion.

Clean data has an extremely large influence on the delivery time of your goods and on the customer journey of your customers - and thus also on your costs and your profit! 

When it comes to optimizing shipping, we have a say. Therefore: It is worthwhile to read on.

What data is at stake?

Here are the three data types in the overview:

  • Product data
  • Order/shipping data
  • Customs clearance data and documents

How can missing or bad data negatively affect online shops?

The vicious circle begins with poor or even missing data.

Example: A company has insufficient product master data in its ERP/PIM and the order data is of poor quality. This automatically leads to errors in stock and order processing and, of course, in pick & pack. It can happen that a product goes to the wrong customer. Unpleasant.

Delays in customs clearance are the result

Another problem: customs clearance. If the data of package A is reported to customs, but package B is shipped, the logical consequence is a delay in customs clearance. 

Another example: The reported weights do not match the real ones. A small numerical deviation that has fatal consequences: extra work, loss of time, extra costs.

Delivery delays frustrate your customers

Delivery delays and incorrect data (including, for example, a wrong address) quickly cause major problems with delivery. The result? Your customer is annoyed. And rightly so! A poor customer experience often has fatal consequences for customer lifetime value.

Bad customer reviews are bad for the image

This results in a higher rate of returns, which is badvery bad for a well-running business. And because disappointed customers rarely keep their frustration to themselves, bad customer reviews hail down. Your image suffers.

A bad image is reflected in the sales figures in no time at all. And these, in turn, have an impact on company resources, i.e. on headcount.

If you would like to know more about international logistics and its impact on your online shop KPIs, we recommend this blog: "How international logistics affects your e-commerce KPIs!" 

Your human resources are affected

Let's spin the vicious circle a little further: less available human resources will prevent data quality from improving in the medium and long term. And the whole thing starts all over again...

In addition, structurally increased expenses are generated for your customer service. However, this metric should become smaller ;-).

The exit from this Data Vicious Cycle starts with correct data. And right from the start. Because to adapt or complete them afterwards is not that easy anymore and can involve enormous effort.


Pro tip:

Ensure high data quality in logistics right from the start. It is vital to success!decisive for the match!

Pro tip:

Ensure high data quality in logistics right from the start. It is vital to success!decisive for the match!

Which product data is important in cross-border e-commerce

Let us now turn to the types of data mentioned at the beginning, which are important when sending data across borders. Let us start with the first, the product data.

  • Exact article description

    • It is important for the smooth processing of customs clearance. The description should be written in the language of the destination country - or in English.

    • Artificial intelligence (AI) can also help you create good article descriptions.

  • Unique article number

  • Price

    • When the merchant sends the goods with the DDP Incoterms, he will show his prices including taxes and customs duties in the web shop. For customs clearance, however, net prices must be stated. This means without customs duties, without taxes, but including transport costs. Finally, the customs authorities levy taxes and customs duties based on the value transmitted. If the merchant incorrectly states gross prices (including taxes and customs duties), he is paying too much.

    • You have to be careful with special promotions with free goods. Values of CHF 0.00 cause problems with customs clearance. Consequence: The goods can remain blocked until the correct value is available.

  • Country of origin

    • This information is essential for customs clearance and influences the rate of duty. EU goods, for example, can be imported into Switzerland duty-free. Please note: A wrong country of origin in the customs declaration is considered a false declaration and will cause problems in the event of any returns.

  • Weight (this is important for shipping to Switzerland)

    • Switzerland is the only country that has a weight tariff. This is the reason why all imported articles must be marked with the correct weight. The Swiss customs requires net and gross weight. Note: The gross weight is decisive for the customs rate. You can find out more about the customs regulations of Switzerland here

  • HS code (this is important for shipping to Switzerland)
    • It is not possible to send goods to Switzerland without an HS code or, in other words, a customs tariff number. Swiss HS codes are based on the internationally valid Harmonised System (HS) and are eight-digit numbers that can be found in the Swiss Tares system

  • VOC information (if necessary)

    • Some articles are subject to incentive taxes on volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This mostly concerns cosmetics or cleaning agents. The incentive tax is CHF 3.00/kg. If the retailer does not indicate the exact VOC content of his articles, he will be charged the full amount. This means CHF 3 on the total weight of the article and not on the actual VOC value. You can find more information about VOC taxes in our Blog.

  • Alcohol information (if necessary)


Bestell- / Versanddaten im Onlinehandel

Good product information management (PIM) data is one thing. The other is data quality in the order area. The retailer must ensure that it collects the correct customer data at the checkout.

First of all, it must be clear whether the purchaser is a private individual or a company. If a private person orders but wishes delivery to his place of work, this must be clearly indicated in the address fields. Otherwise, there will be problems with customs clearance, which will result in delivery delays. If it is not clear to customs that a private person is behind the order, they will classify the items as B2B items and handle them differently. This leads to delays and additional costs for the recipient. Here too, the customer journey experienced is unlikely to lead to positive fireworks in your e-commerce metrics.

In addition, the address has to meet the specification of the destination country. For example, the field for the postcode must be adapted because not every country has four-digit numbers as in Switzerland.


Pro tip

Rely on online tools for address checking. This way, the buyer immediately receives a message that something is wrong if he or she types in the wrong address. This way you avoid that deliveries cannot be delivered. This has a positive effect on the shipping costs.

Pro tip

Rely on online tools for address checking. This way, the buyer immediately receives a message that something is wrong if he or she types in the wrong address. This way you avoid that deliveries cannot be delivered. This has a positive effect on the shipping costs.

Customs clearance data and documents for optimized e-commerce logistics

In addition to the normal customs clearance data such as HS codes and weight, correctly completed sales invoices are required. This is because customs carries out spot checks, so the trader must be able to present correct invoices. Otherwise, the goods are again at risk of being blocked at customs. 


Profi-Tipp:

Bei einigen Produkten muss der Händler dem Zoll zudem verschiedene Zertifikate oder Bewilligungsnummern vorlegen können (zum Beispiel CITES-Zertifikate). So ist garantiert, dass die Ware reibungslos zugestellt wird.

Profi-Tipp:

Bei einigen Produkten muss der Händler dem Zoll zudem verschiedene Zertifikate oder Bewilligungsnummern vorlegen können (zum Beispiel CITES-Zertifikate). So ist garantiert, dass die Ware reibungslos zugestellt wird.

Data quality in online Shop: our conclusion

There are fully digitalised setups where you can save yourself this invoice admin. It depends on the digital capabilities of your shipping partner and the customs clearance process.

Cross-border e-commerce is interesting. However, this also increases the complexity of logistics. Before you want to conquer an export market, we recommend that you take a close look at which data is critical for shipping success.

If you pay attention to all the points for shipping optimisation, fast throughput times, low transaction costs and a positive customer journey should make your customers happy. And that alone counts for success.



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