Ahead of the World Mail & Express Americas (WMX Americas) Conference in Miami, we caught up with James Edge, CEO of Landmark Global. James will be speaking at WMX Americas 2019 and offers his thoughts on the conference and the future of the industry.
P&P – Tell us a little bit about yourself and your company.
JE – Landmark Global is a logistics company, specializing in B2C international eCommerce deliveries. As the international division of bPost, Belgium’s national postal operator and market leader, we rely on the investment support, strong brand and a global reputation of our parent company. Through our extensive distribution network of commercial and postal partners, we offer a consistent last-mile service in more than 220 countries with short transit times at highly competitive rates. Whether delivery in Canada or fulfillment in Europe or Hong Kong, we’ve got you covered.
As for me, I got a solid grounding in logistics in my 10+ years at Royal Mail. I started in Sales and ended up as a country manager in the USA. I stayed in the US, entered the start-up space and learned all about payments, cross-border and trying to grow a business from the ground up at Borderjump, before moving to Landmark and bpost. I led a global technology team, with teams in N America, Asia and Europe, before becoming COO and then CEO of Landmark last year. It’s the best place I’ve ever worked, so I’m delighted to be “home” after my global IT adventure.
P&P – How do the recent changes to customs regulations impact your business?
JE – Change breeds opportunity. As we see steps towards reduction or elimination of de minimus in many countries, we also see the raising of it in Canada. Thus, flexibility in managing these changes is key. In house brokerage in our main markets allows Landmark to stay on top of and in front of such changes, without having to reply on a 3rd party to tell us what is going on.
Alongside these changes, we are also seeing the blurring of the lines on DDU and DDP as Postal Authorities improve their ability to collect D&T. This is exemplified in Canada where main CBSA ports will be fully automated later this year. In addition, we have the mandatory data collection which will enable easier automated collection in the US (2020) and EU (2021). In short, the advantages of playing “postal roulette” and hoping the authorities turn a blind eye to collection are diminishing rapidly. Once collections shipments increase, the advantages of shipping DDP will increase, and more clients will need sort of expertise and advice Landmark offer.
The US potential withdrawal from the UPU by January 2020 may lead to a disappearance of postal clearance in the US. Postage rates into the US, and correspondingly outbound from the US, are expected to increase as a consequence. It may also render ETOE operations out of the US impossible. In any case, our expertise in commercial clearance will be an opportunity if US would case to be part of the UPU territory.
Shipping domestically versus cross border reduces, if not eliminates, many of these concerns. Landmark Global offers in country fulfilment that reduces the impact of these changes in most major markets (US/CA/EU/CN/AU etc.).
Brexit is also an area of concern for many. Landmark has proactively sourced alternate lanes, carriers, and impact of VAT based on alternative options. We are well prepared to manage the change once the details emerge.
Finally, we’re seeing a massive change in policy regarding Customs Authorities interpretation of Importer of Record liability on casual importations. Traditionally the buyer (consumer) or the seller (Merchant) has always been considered the importer of record. With the rise in e commerce, Customs Authorities are at a loss. They do not have the resources to enforce their legislation on individual consumers, nor do they have the jurisdiction to chase after foreign merchants. In a dramatic shift, which could change the industry as we know it today, CBSA in Canada is now attempting to move the liability onto the traditional intermediary party. (ex. carrier, courier, freight forwarder, or customs broker). We have recently seen Canada Customs audit, fine, assess outstanding duty and tax going back 4 years, and even refuse refunds on returned or destroyed items, all due to their new interpretation of an importer of record. The reasoning is simple in CBSA’s mind: if you do not have a “wet ink” power of attorney on each individual consumer’s transaction, the intermediary is the importer of record. This is a huge challenge for our entire industry and something that needs far more awareness and publicity.
P&P – How is your company looking to grow and adapt your product offering in this ever-changing eCommerce landscape?
JE – Landmark is focused on growing our current offering to all regions of the Americas and will have a keen focus on expanding our DDP service into Latin America in 2019. Within eCommerce, the landscape is continuously changing and as Landmark Global we believe in actively listening to how our clients’ needs are changing and seeing how these requests can be adapted/ added to our existing portfolio. This year we are introducing Xmile, a bPost company, to improve our postal shipping solutions and satisfy the market need for a more reliable and tracked postal DDU service.
P&P – With so much growth potential in the cross-border B to C e-commerce market in Latin America, why has the market grown slower than expected for some retailers?
JE – LATAM countries put the ‘strict’ in restrictions when it comes to imports. Their laws and regulations, which limit imports on many products, have a tendency to scare off US and European retailers.
Those retailers who are determined to penetrate this large growing market are finding a lot of success – but the key is following the rules. It is crucial to align your brand with a trustworthy shipping partner who can enable you and your customers living in Latin American countries to properly conduct a healthy online transaction.
P&P – So how can retailers be succsful in selling their products to Latin America?
JE – We need to be sure we don’t impose our own culture and buying expectations on those consumers living abroad, as this keeps us from creating real eCommerce solutions that work! In the USA you often hear “I would never provide my social security number to an online retailer” or, “I would never pay 100% duties and taxes on top of the sales price”, but it’s crucial not to place our own buying behaviors on eCommerce shoppers who live in other countries. Residents of LATAM are aware of their country’s Tax ID requirements. In Brazil, Tax ID is required to rent a bike or make any purchase with your credit card. It’s not as private as US Social Security numbers. Making this information required at the time of checkout enables a simple and trustworthy transaction. The bottom line is, no shipment cleared commercially will leave Brazilian customs without a Tax ID, why not enable the inevitable requirement for your customers?
At Landmark, we accept the rules of doing business abroad and enable our customers to be successful in any market they want to access. We enjoy working with retailers who want to expand their brand awareness and consumer sales worldwide and are willing to play by the rules to deliver a quality eCommerce experience to their consumers living abroad. Yes, it takes some customization when it comes to your cart; like requiring information from end consumers or incorporating a fully-landed cost model to comply with the duty and tax laws, but an honest approach is truly the only way to access international shoppers. We believe that a good buying experience will encourage repeat orders and is an essential step towards winning the customer’s confidence and loyalty.
P&P – You speak a lot about duties and taxes, can you elaborate?
JE – If you want to enter new markets, optimize your current logistic solutions or ensure compliance of your international activities, you have to have a partner that lives and breathes customs, duties and taxes. That’s why we will always do it in-house, with Landmark Trade Services.
In depth and up-to-date knowledge of import and export rules and regulations is not just necessary, it’s crucial.
James will be speaking at the World Mail & Express Americas Conference 2019. WMX Americas is taking place at the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay (10 – 12 February 2019). Visit www.wmxamericas.com for more information.