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Shipping from US to Canada: 10 Signs to Outsource Your Cross Border Logistics

Sep 26, 2023 | Logistics Industry

Are you a US business finding cross-border shipping to Canada to be a complex and overwhelming task? As companies grow and expand, it makes sense to want to tap into international markets, especially the neighbouring country next door.

However, shipping from one country to another comes with its own set of unique challenges. If you’re facing difficulties in managing cross border logistics, it may be time to consider outsourcing. 

What is Outsourced Logistics?

Outsourcing your logistics involves entrusting a  third-party logistics (3PL) company with the management and execution of various parts of your supply chain and distribution operations.

When partnering with an external expert, businesses can offload tasks that would otherwise need to be handled internally. A 3PL can manage various processes, such as:

Ultimately, outsourcing your logistics can provide businesses with a range of benefits, including streamlined operations, reduced overhead costs, risk management and more time to focus on growing your business.

Explore a logistics partnership.

With a better understanding of what outsourcing logistics involves and what it can offer, let’s dive into ten key indicators that suggest it may be time for your business to make this strategic move. 

Recognizing these signs can help you make an informed decision about whether outsourcing your company’s logistics is the right step for growth and success. 

Here are ten telltale signs that outsourcing your logistics may be the solution you are looking for:

1. Experiencing Shipping Delays

If you’re handling cross-border logistics in-house and facing frequent shipping delays, this can be a big flag that you need the help of a third-party logistics company. Shipping delays have the potential to impact your entire supply chain and have far-reaching consequences, from frustrated customers waiting on their orders to unexpected costs from expedited shipping fees and storage charges. These delayed shipments can be profound, significantly impacting both the customer experience and your bottom line.

Delays can stem from complexities in custom clearance, unexpected roadblocks in transportation, insufficient coordination between stakeholders, inaccurate inventory management, or operational inefficiencies. 

Should shipping delays while getting your product from the US to Canada become a recurring issue, rest assured that logistics experts within a 3PL have the in-depth knowledge and expertise to solve your problems head-on.  

By equipping you with the right tools, insightful guidance and industry connections, you will gain the ability to proactively sidestep any complications and ensure your cross border shipments reach their destination on time.

2. Struggling with Customs Compliance

Successfully navigating the intricacies of customs compliance when shipping goods from the US to Canada can be intimidating. The regulations, paperwork and procedural requirements involved in cross border logistics can quickly become too much for an internal team already managing day-to-day business operations.

Without a solid understanding of regulations set by both the US and Canadian governments, errors in aspects such as product classification, valuation, origin determination, and documents can easily happen. 

Failure to comply with customs regulations can slow your shipments down at border crossings or ports, disrupting your supply chain and causing frustration for your team and customers. In addition, you risk customs authorities imposing penalties for non-compliance, a financial risk you want to avoid.

This is why a third-party logistics company should step in if internal custom processes could be more efficient or if keeping up with dynamic custom requirements is proving to be a big struggle. 3PLs have established systematic custom processes, reducing the risk of errors and ensuring your shipments continue to move through customs smoothly.

Discover five important border clearance factors to keep in mind when you’re shipping goods to Canada from the US.

3. Inventory Management Issues

Inventory management is something that many businesses need help with, especially with the additional complications that come with shipping internationally. It’s a delicate balance of supply and demand; Overstocking can tie up valuable capital and warehouse space, while understocking can lead to stockouts and missed sales opportunities.

Cross border logistics introduce another layer of complexities as factors such as longer shipping times, customs clearance, and potential delays can impact your replenishment cycles and reorder points.

If you operate multiple warehouses across borders, coordinating inventory levels and movements becomes even more challenging. Inaccurate stock tracking across these locations can lead to inefficiencies and lost sales. This is especially true when it comes to forecasting accuracy, where if your prediction of demand is inaccurate will result in surplus or shortage situations.

If your business needs help maintaining inventory levels when shipping from the US to Canada, you should consider partnering with a 3PL. Logistics experts have the tools and techniques to assist with improved control and optimization. They can analyze demand patterns, lead times and other factors to ensure you have the stock you need to run your business.

Plus, 3PLs can adjust your replenishment strategies to account for international shipping timelines and customs clearance. They can also help you centralize and streamline inventory tracking across multiple warehouses to ensure the efficient movement of goods.

Learn why strategic warehousing is essential for your business.

4. Looking to Expand your Customer Base

Suppose you’re contemplating expanding your customer base by venturing into new markets, particularly involving the shipment of goods from the US to Canada. In that case, it’s imperative your logistics strategy adapts to the unique dynamics of cross border shipping.

Grasping local preferences, regulations, and customer behaviour facilitates seamless growth. This understanding should go beyond your product offerings to encompass the logistics landscape. Within this realm, you may encounter shipping methods and delivery expectations that differ from what you’re accustomed to.

Due to its vast geography and diverse landscapes, determining the most efficient shipping routes and transportation modes is especially important in Canada. Meticulous route planning helps to bypass traffic congestion and manage weather-related issues, such as snowstorms or flooding. These unique challenges can lead to unnecessary detours, lengthy transportation times and additional expenses when not accounted for. 

With the help of a third-party logistics company, businesses can transcend geographical challenges, optimize costs and deliver on their promise of timely, reliable service – key ingredients for success in a new market.

5. Limited Network of Carriers

The strength of your company’s logistics is intricately tied to the quality of your carrier network. Simply put, having a limited carrier network can significantly impede the flexibility and effectiveness of US businesses shipping to Canada.

For instance, a narrow selection of carriers limits your ability to adapt to diverse shipping requirements. Different carriers offer varying strengths – be it faster transit times, cost-savings, or specialized services. A business may struggle with a lack of choices, which prevents it from being competitive in the fast-paced world of shipping.

Partnering with a range of carriers offers tailored services essential for meeting customer expectations. Different carriers can excel in specific regions due to their experience and coverage or help to accommodate sudden volume changes that would typically cause bottlenecks.

This is where third-party logistics providers step in. 3PLs have a broad network of carriers extending beyond a business’s limited options. They’ve built relationships with carriers of diverse strengths, enabling them to offer shipping solutions for every scenario. By tapping into a 3PL’s carrier network, a business benefits from flexibility and risk management, setting the stage for successful cross border shipping operations.

6. Complex Supply Chain

A complex supply chain often involves multiple stakeholders and interconnected processes, from sourcing raw materials to delivering the final product to customers. Coordinating these entities across borders adds another layer of complexity that only stands to amplify risks.

A disruption at any point in the supply chain – whether due to natural disasters, geopolitical factors or other unforeseen events – can cause a ripple effect across multiple stages of the process. This may result in delayed deliveries, lost revenue, inventory imbalances and long-term consequences on the stability and sustainability of the business. 

A 3PL can mitigate the risks of a complex supply chain involved in cross border logistics by implementing robust risk management strategies. These strategies offer the ability to anticipate, address and minimize the impact of supply chain disruption. They can also leverage advanced technology platforms to help monitor shipments and track progress to ensure every step in the process goes smoothly.

7. Experiencing Cost Overruns

Experiencing cost overruns can cast a shadow over the efficiency and profitability of cross-border shipping operations between the US and Canada. If a business’s expenses continuously surpass the originally budgeted amounts, this can lead to substantial financial strain. Several factors, such as supplier and carrier rates, inaccurate cost estimation, and inefficient supply chain processes, contribute to these costs.

A 3PL can be valuable in addressing and mitigating cost overruns in cross-border logistics. With deep industry knowledge and experience, they can assist in conducting a comprehensive cost analysis, identifying potential cost drivers and accurate budgets encompassing all aspects of the shipping process.

3PLs also have established relationships with suppliers and carriers, giving them the leverage to negotiate competitive rates on behalf of a business. This, along with identifying hidden costs like customs duties, taxes and documentation charges upfront in the budget, prevents unwelcome surprises later. 

8. Poor Customer Service

Maintaining excellent customer service is paramount when it comes to cross-border shipping operations between the US and Canada. With customer loyalty built on positive experiences, late deliveries and a lack of accurate shipping information can erode a brand’s reputation, resulting in lost business and a decreased customer lifetime value.

Additionally, addressing customer complaints, issues, and return management takes time. Juggling cross border logistics and the problems that may come with it can divert a team’s attention from core operations, leading to further problems. 

A reliable 3PL can enhance customer service and positive brand perception by providing real-time updates, resolving issues efficiently, and ensuring a smooth returns process.

Find out more about how 3PL providers help improve your customer satisfaction.

9. Inefficient Use of Resources

In the dynamic world of cross border logistics between the US and Canada, ensuring the efficient use of resources is essential. Inefficiencies can lead to wasted time, increased costs, and redundant tasks. Whether it’s manual data entry, redundant documentation, or miscommunication, this can slow down the entire logistics chain.

With a deep understanding of industry best practices, a 3PL can assess existing processes and streamline workflows to optimize resource allocation. A third-party logistics company enhances transparency through technology and real-time visibility solutions, enabling data-driven decisions that a business can count on for better results. 

This collaboration allows businesses to tap into their operational insights, scalability and experience to best use their resources, ultimately bolstering their competitive advantage.

10. Lack of Time to Focus on Your Core Business

Amid the intricate landscape of cross border logistics between the US and Canada, the challenge of time management may emerge as a significant hurdle. If a business becomes overwhelmed with logistics complexities, they can find themselves stretched thin and unable to devote ample attention to core activities. 

This dilution of focus can hinder innovation and growth while running the risk of missing out on opportunities for expansion or product diversification. 

Outsourcing to a trusted third-party logistics provider (3PL) can reclaim their time and energy to drive their main objectives forward, leading to sustainable success in the international marketplace. 

Experience the Benefits of Outsourcing your Cross Border Logistics with McKenna

At McKenna, our extensive industry experience, forward-thinking processes, and unwavering commitment to ensuring client success come together to provide you with tailored solutions perfectly suited to your business needs. 

As you embark on the journey of cross border shipping, experience the benefits of partnering with a logistics expert that helps you confidently navigate the complexities of cross-border shipping. 

Contact McKenna to learn how our expertise can streamline shipping from the US to Canada. Our customer-centric approach and tailored solutions empower your business to thrive in the Canadian marketplace.

Explore a logistics partnership.

Importing to Canada?

We serve all of Canada and we understand the unique Canadian logistics market

Looking for a Better 3PL?

Discover McKenna’s commitment to accuracy and timeliness

Ready to Grow Your Business?

If you’re getting started with mass retailers, we can help