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The Fastest Path to Paperless Trade

Alexander Goulandris
DocPrep Plus
document templates
electronic bill of lading
electronic documents
Letter of credit
paper documents
Paperless Trade
Trade Digitization
trade finance

As companies continue to pursue digitization projects, the transition to paperless trade becomes a key element for any company involved in global trade.

But as with all mammoth projects the question remains: where do I start?

The challenge with end-to-end eDocs, for example, is that it requires the entire physical and financial trade chain to be signed up. While the CargoDocs network has grown by 60% year-on-year for the last five years in a row, it admittedly still has holes. While we expect to close many of these in 2H 2016, they currently prevent 100% paperless. Today customer use of eDocs ranges from below 1% to over 70% depending on the trade lane.

So how can CargoDocs customers make significant inroads into paperless trade without needing to wait for these holes to be filled?

The answer lies in breaking down the paperless trade goal into manageable phases (think of the accepted wisdom: you eat an elephant in bite sized chunks!). For Paperless Trade, the whole process can be broken down into various sub-parts such as: (i) digitizing the creation of docs (whether paper and/or electronic); (ii) digitizing the approval of draft documents; (iii) digitizing presentation of docs to banks; (iv) digitizing the transmission of eDocs through the end-to-end supply chain, etc.

An example of how this can be sub-divided is outlined in the graph below, with each phase moving a company closer to the nirvana of 100% paperless trade. Each step is both manageable and provides a fast return on investment.


Note: It is not necessary to undertake each phase in the order outlined nor as sequential steps. It is possible for example to digitize eCreate and Visibility while using eDocs end-to-end where possible.

If companies focus on just the eCreate phase, for example, they can digitize and standardize 100% of their global export processes overnight. Or at least over a few weeks, if exporting from a number of countries.

Two weeks ago, essDOCS released the second part of CargoDocs DocPrep+. DocPrep+ is one of the most powerful document preparation solutions ever built for trade because it combines a versatile web-based solution with the fast-growing CargoDocs user network.

DocPrep+ can be used to create Sales of Goods Contracts (either as paper or eDocs). It can be used to create letter of credit drafts. The data from this draft template can in turn be submitted via the Collaboration Portal in DocPrep+ to the applicant’s bank electronically, whichever bank that is in the world. In turn the exporter can receive letter of credit data (based on the issued L/C) from its bank and use that as a basis to draft or to compare with the data in the drafted documents in DocPrep+. It can be integrated directly with your ERP system, e.g., SAP, to use data to create the full set of shipping and trade documents for exporting any cargo and in any trade. You can send a digital shipping instruction to any container line on the INTTRA network. And you (or your forwarder/agent) can do all of this today.

Most importantly, DocPrep+ even allows you to collaborate with any party, irrespective of whether they are signed up to CargoDocs or not. In essence, this streamlines the approval process for all shipping and trade documents such as the Sale of Goods Contract, Purchase Order, Commercial Invoice, Mates Receipt, Bill of Lading, Cargo Manifest, Inspection Certificate and more.

For exporters or traders who do not know where to start on their digitization journey, or who are not convinced that the eDocs network is yet large enough to cover a sufficient part of their trades, adopting CargoDocs DocPrep+ is a logical first step. It provides a quick ROI, and sets you up to move quickly down the path to paperless trade whenever you are ready.

Alexander Goulandris