UPS to provide ‘paperless’ international shipping option

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UPS on Monday, Oct. 1, said it will become the first package carrier to offer customers a paperless international shipping option as well as a package return capability to 98 countries and territories. The new services — UPS Paperless Invoice and international UPS Returns — will be introduced in January and will make it even easier for customers to expand their businesses to new markets around the globe, the company says.

“This is truly a breakthrough for our customers when you look at what goes into cross-border shipping today,” says Kurt Kuehn, senior vice president of worldwide sales and marketing for Atlanta-based UPS. “Businesses of all sizes count on UPS to simplify international shipping and optimize their supply chains, and thanks to the UPS technology now available, we’re dramatically changing the future of global shipping.”

UPS Paperless Invoice is designed to enable customers shipping small packages internationally to “go paperless.” It will use UPS technology to help integrate order processing, shipment preparation and commercial invoice data, and then transmit that data to Customs offices across the globe, eliminating the need for paper commercial invoices, the company says.

The majority of the small packages UPS ships internationally — everything besides a letter or document — requires a commercial invoice. UPS says its Paperless Invoice allows shipments to clear Customs using electronic data in lieu of these error-prone paper forms; because information is stored electronically, customers greatly reduce their chance of making manual errors when filling out Customs documentation. Customers also can breathe easier knowing that the technology prevents them from submitting incomplete Customs paperwork; incomplete forms are one of the main reasons shipments are held for clearance.

“UPS Paperless Invoice saves time, money and trees,” Kuehn says. “It saves our customers time and resources by reducing office supplies and staff time associated with Customs paperwork. It also gives our customers an easy, painless way to make a positive environmental impact by eliminating paper.”

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The company says UPS Returns is the first industry offering that will allow the recipients of packages to efficiently return them to 98 countries or territories. Today, many companies hesitate to sell globally over the Internet because of the difficulty of facilitating a return if a customer is not satisfied. Recipients can receive the international return label and commercial invoice via e-mail, local post or from a UPS driver picking up the return package.

The expanded service should help improve a company’s cash flow through the faster return of goods while reducing support costs (phone center or help desk) for returns. UPS Returns not only will expand the geographic reach of businesses, it also will help to increase repeat business through a reliable, smooth returns process, the company says. UPS Returns will be accessed via UPS shipping systems like UPS WorldShip or UPS Internet Shipping and also can be integrated into a company’s systems or website.

“With these global solutions, UPS makes shipping from Atlanta to Beijing as simple as shipping from Atlanta to Boston,” Kuehn says. “What’s more, UPS makes getting a shipment returned from Beijing as simple as getting it returned from Boston.”

UPS Paperless Invoice is provided to customers at no additional charge, while rates for UPS Returns vary depending upon the shipment. Fees for international UPS Returns include transportation, a shipping label and applicable duties and taxes.