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Ahead of the World Mail & Express Americas (WMX Americas) Conference in Miami, we caught up with Rudee Bertie, Managing Director of CCL. Rudee 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.

RB – I have spent my entire career within the import/export sector. In 1999, with Brian Kelly, I founded CCL as a specialist customs brokerage, based on our shared conviction that there was a better way to transact border clearance.

Over the years the business expanded, through increased trade into mainland Europe and gateway clearance to the Eurozone, then in recent times through the explosive growth of eCommerce.  In 2015 we relocated to a sizable depot at London Heathrow Airport, from which we continue to serve a global client base with gateway clearance services, cross-border logistics, freight and eCommerce handling, warehouse management and returns logistics.

Today we’re part of the Lenton Group, one of the largest independent linehaul networks in the world. We’re proud of our reputation for thinking outside-the-box, for service excellence, responsiveness and professional expertise.

P&P – What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing your business today?

RB – Undoubtedly our biggest challenge is Brexit – the departure of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU). More than two years after the Referendum which determined that the UK would leave the EU, there are still so many uncertainties as to how this will be achieved, and what it will mean for border control, trade agreements, and customs clearance processing.

As advisors and specialists in cross-border trade and customs clearance, our role is to anticipate and accommodate all the possibilities, to help ensure that our clients continue to benefit from the most cost-effective and time-efficient clearance and transit solutions, whatever Brexit scenario ultimately unfolds.

To do this, we need to think creatively, be adaptable and above all, develop collaborative arrangements with trusted partners across the EU and beyond. Unsurprisingly, we’ve been on-the-case since the morning after that unexpected Referendum outcome in 2016!

P&P – Apart from the presentations and content, what aspect of WMX Americas are you most looking forward to?

RB – Conferences like WMX Americas are excellent opportunities to meet face-to-face with both existing and new clients. Whether through the formal meetings or the many social opportunities, I look to cement existing business relationships and make new connections. At WMX Americas, I know I’m going to meet high-level delegates, business owners and decision-makers, with whom I can build mutually beneficial contacts and alliances.

P&P – How has the post and parcel industry changed in the past 5 years? What do you predict will happen in the next 5 to 10 years?

RB – The industry is at last waking up to the need to engage with customs brokers, and this trend will only continue.

The de minimis thresholds and low value bulking facilities (LVCR) for shipments into the EU will disappear by 2020. If the UK leaves the EU on 29th March 2019, per the current plan, then bulking relief will disappear for the UK at that point – in just a few weeks’ time.  This means that every single package, from zero value upwards, which comes in or out of the UK (and by 2020, in or out of the EU), will need to be declared, and duties paid on it.

Post offices and postal administrators have been advised they will need to start manifesting everything with greater transparency; every item will need to be individually listed and visible, because every country wants to know what’s coming and going across its borders.

When you realise that some 90% of current parcel shipments into the UK fall below the UK’s de minimis threshold of £15.00, you may begin to see the scale of the challenge. And this is where the customs brokers come in – because they have the expertise and the processes that the global postal and parcel services will need.

P&P – What is the biggest challenge in the post and parcel industry at the moment?

RB – Information and data management is the future and it’s plain to see that the most successful global players today are all technology-based enterprises.  Nowhere is the need to embrace business process automation more vital than the logistics industry, especially parcels and packages.  With eCommerce driving the volume of small consignments ever higher, our industry cries out for digital transformation.

Parcel services seem to be addressing digital transformation more effectively than the postal system, but there’s still a long way to go. With the detail that will soon need to be captured on all parcels and packages, digitalisation is essential, across-the-board.

CCL already has a suite of digital solutions for cross-border eCommerce clearance and handling. We can service customers today, and we’re keeping a firm eye on the technology trends and how they stand to impact the industry in the future.

P&P – What are the most critical changes that we must make to face the future effectively?

RB – For any business importing into the UK and Eurozone, Brexit will have an impact – and they need to have a solution. Currently most companies ship into the Eurozone via the UK, clearing in one location and then trans-shipping into free circulation across mainland Europe. Around 70% of the goods which come into the Eurozone via the UK remain in the UK, with the other 30% being redistributed around other major European cities. With Brexit taking the UK out of the Eurozone, those companies will need to make commercial decisions on how to handle their shipments into the UK and Eurozone. Road shipments will also need to be dealt with in the same way that air shipments work today – utilising processes which customs clearance specialists like CCL have been operating for years.

Many companies aren’t waiting until Brexit but are changing their processes now. For example, CCL has customers in China shipping upwards of 10,000 parcels per day, directly into mainland Europe using CCL’s systems, licenced to our trusted partner in Amsterdam.  When Brexit comes, in whatever format, these companies already know that their new processes, on our established integrated systems, will keep the goods flowing.

P&P – What effect have technologies like AI, BlockChain, Robotics, Automation etc. made on the post and parcel industry?

RB – Whatever the technology – AI, BlockChain, Robotics, Automation, Transport Management Systems or Cybersecurity – digital transformation is the way forward for the post and parcel industry and the most interesting trend for 2019 and beyond. The challenge is for the post and parcel services to take seriously the drive for automation, and the cost benefits that will accrue through end-to-end integration, and through faster, more accurate processing and transparency.

P&P – Aside from focusing on digital transformation, what’s the best piece of advice you can offer the delegates attending WMX Americas?

RB – Our advice to delegates is to make the most of the networking opportunity presented by WMX Americas. Conferences bring people together, enabling delegates to look for and find partners, cement existing connections, and establish new commercial relationships. Every part of the event, both the formal sessions and social gatherings, is a valuable opportunity to connect.

Additionally, delegates should consider joining a global industry network, to gain access to a range of brokers and forwarders across the world.

CCL has always believed in networking as a vital business tool. Our business has grown based on the face-to-face connections we have made at events and conferences, and through global networks. Now we have such a breadth of contacts across the world, that we act as our own network, connecting our clients and associates with trusted brokers, forwarders and delivery partners on every continent.

Lastly, if you’re a company just setting up in the post and parcel business and you want to get involved in cross-border eCommerce logistics, the best piece of advice we can offer is to engage with a customs broker. They are your ‘access all areas’ pass to the industry!

Rudee 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.