Clint Reid is the founder and CEO of Zonos, a market-leading, cross-border technology company that helps businesses navigate the complexities of international logistics, tariffs, and taxes. Reid previously worked with DHL and UPS as an International Account Executive. While in that position, he experienced just about every pain point there is in global trading and decided that he would use technology to streamline the process. Thus, Zonos was born. Reid also serves as a board member of Utah’s District Export Council, which provides mentoring and counseling on international trade.
What is cross-border business?
Imagine going to the website of a small business in the UK, with no US operations, and placing an order for a product to be delivered to a home in California. That is cross-border business. It is specific to companies operating in one country and shipping products to customers in another – and typically those are the only two parties involved. The logistics involved in such deals would make the eyes of most people glaze over; and when those logistics go awry, the frustrations are very real. Many conclude that technology can significantly alleviate some of that pain, but Reid suggests, “it’s not necessarily getting easier; it’s becoming different.”
Identification technology will play a critical role in this field moving forward. If an item can be scanned as it passes through customs and have its value instantly reported to customs agents and brokers, the process of determining taxes and fees will be that much faster. This technology could potentially allow duties to immediately be remitted to the applicable government. This could disrupt the customs brokerage industry, which typically charges high rates, and create significant savings for governments and ecommerce participants.
It’s easy to assess the value of a 20-foot container carrying thousands of t-shirts, but what if the order is for five seemingly random items being moved from Memphis, Tennessee, USA to Calgary, Alberta, Canada? What are the levies associated with items that small? What is the most cost-efficient way to transport them? New technologies are sprouting up that can answer these questions and reduce the hassle of cross-border transactions for companies both large and small. Technology is changing everything in cross-border transactions—from identification and tracking to shipping and transport.
There has never been a better time for entrepreneurs to take their products international. “Don’t just assume that somebody doesn’t want your widget or your good. By opening outside the United States there is absolutely opportunity to grow.” The world has changed dramatically over the past several years to one where it is incredibly easy to buy directly from small businesses. Ecommerce giants may still hold the high ground in the fight, but emerging technologies that power intelligent and cost-effective logistics allow people to get what they want from wherever they want it. If entrepreneurs have a good product and can get the word out, then global growth is not out of reach.
Global supply chain has become a leading issue for many companies in recent years as they try to navigate a complex and ever-changing social and political world. Young professionals who have an interest in foreign operations can leverage their technological skills to be an asset to whatever company they may work for. Businesses need leaders who understand the logistics landscape and how using emerging technology can influence the bottom line.
To learn more about cross-border technology, check out the iHub Top Three Things podcast with Clint Reid here.