It's often said that technology is making the world a smaller place. Email, social networks and VoIP (voice over internet protocol) services like Skype, for example, have made communication easier than it's ever been; it's possible to chat and move data around the globe at the click of a button or the even the touch of a screen.
There are few areas of life that have been impacted more significantly by these developments than business. Companies now have much larger pools of potential customers and clients to target as they can sell their products and services internationally with ease. They can also reduce costs by sourcing their own materials and stock from cheaper markets overseas.
On the whole, this is obviously great news for sales-hungry CEOs but it also presents them with a number of challenges. Products and services now have to be moved across oceans and borders from country to country, meaning the efficiency with which logistics teams and facilities managers are able to complete their work is now key to success.
With regulations and guidelines differing greatly between countries and continents, the global supply chain can be extremely complex. One way many firms avoid the difficulties that come with importing and exporting goods is by using bonded warehouses. Before going ahead and changing the way your business operates in this area, though, it pays to look at the benefits on offer.
Room to manoeuvre
Bonded warehouses act as safe zones for products which are brought into the UK from other areas of the world. This essentially means that companies which import stock and materials aren't required to pay VAT and tax duties during the period of storage - they can instead wait until the goods are ready for sale.
With more flexibility, firms have the time to plan their next steps, whether this involves preparing the stock to sell locally or arranging to re-export it elsewhere (which we'll come onto next).
As a result, risk is reduced considerably; businesses which use bonded storage solutions are able to bring new products in without having to pay sizeable tax fees before any money is made. It is, therefore, possible to confirm enough sales to cover the import charges before the products are released.
No tax on re-exporting
If the UK is only acting as a stopping point and you're intending to move your goods on to a third country, bonded storage could be the perfect option.
Once stock has entered the warehouse for the first time, the importing company and the proprietor of the storage space incur liability under a bond. This agreement, however, will be cancelled if the goods are exported, meaning money can be saved as no duty has to be paid.
This is particularly handy if you tend to take risks with new types of foreign stock. It can help innovation potential as you're able to bring exciting new products into the country without having to worry about losing out if they don't sell. If you can't find enough customers to make the duty worthwhile, the stock can be sent back out to another area of the world.
As mentioned, the global supply chain is complex and businesses really need to think on their feet if they're going to be successful in ever-widening and extremely competitive markets. This means that quick moves and well-thought-out trading are more important than ever.
Many firms rely on using exchange rates to get ahead. It is, for instance, wise to buy goods from overseas when the Pound is performing well but as soon as the balance shifts, most companies will look to slow things down and wait for the best time to sell, either domestically or by exporting again.
When businesses know they can take advantage of storage solutions without having to produce the money to cover the tax duties and VAT straight away, they're in a better position to capitalise on fluctuations in exchange rates and other price-determining factors.
That extra bit of security
It goes without saying that when you're storing goods, however valuable they are, the solution you choose needs to be secure. Security, however, is likely to be even more of a concern when you're planning to leave stock in the same place for an extended period of time. Many facilities managers choose to use bonded storage solutions simply because they offer such great protection.
Due to their nature, bonded warehouses must meet the strict standards of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). As such, they're bound by legislation which means they must be kept secure at all times. When you're looking at the different solutions available, it's normal to find manned surveillance teams and CCTV, as well as reinforced perimeters - so you know your goods will be safe.
Although the stock will be under close supervision - often by customs officials - you still have the right to access it, meaning it's possible to repackage, sort and clean when necessary.
Bonded warehouses play a huge part in the international supply chain. They allow businesses to move products around quickly and efficiently, with the savings often passed on to customers. For those who don't already take advantage of the solutions on offer, it pays to think about the doors they could open; with international trading, the buying of interesting new products and intelligently timed deals made possible, the potential is limitless.