Shipping for Retailers

A comprehensive guide to importing and exporting retail products in Canada.

With 40 years of experience in the shipping industry, Canaan Group has extensive knowledge of everything required to importing and exporting retail products in Canada. Our global offices allow for seamless processing, logistics, and customs clearance so that your retail products arrive safely and quickly.

Since the majority of retail products are imported into Canada, we will focus on that in this article. We will touch on exporting retail products at the end.

Importing Retail Products to Canada

When you ship with Canaan Group, we will first sit down with you to understand your product and what your shipping needs are. We will want to know about your production process, bottlenecks, constraints, potential risks, and expectations. We will discuss with you the value of your goods and make sure you have appropriate insurance. We will find out where your suppliers are located and determine what the best logistical schedule would be to have your products arrive at the optimal time.

Methods of Shipment

There are two main ways of importing retail into Canada: ocean and air. Ocean transport can either be via full containers or less than container load (LCL). Time-sensitive or high value shipments are usually transported by air.

Products that arrive in full containers can be picked up at the port and trucked to their final destination, which are often distribution centers. LCL and air shipments are brought to a transloading facility, transferred to a domestic truck, and delivered to the final destination.

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Purchase Order and SKU Management

Since retail products are sometimes imported from many different suppliers for one customer, Canaan Group offers Purchase Order management where we enter all the PO and SKU numbers into our Canaan Group Global Logistics Tracking System. We can work with the suppliers to enter this information into our system at the origin.

This allows clients to search by PO and SKU number, know what products are in which containers, and when the products will arrive. Our clients appreciate the real-time information, because it allows them to remain flexible and make quick adjustments in response to the changing demands of their retail locations.

Mitigating Risk of Damage and Theft during Transportation

Some retail products are highly sensitive to humidity, shock, or movement, we ensure that your products are properly packed and crated. Our team has helped clients transport high end garments in zipper bags on hangers, stored securely inside a container, so that the products are not damaged by having to be shipped in a box. We also have the ability to measure the amount of shock during a shipment so that we have records in the case that insurance claims need to be made for any damages.

When deciding on the shipping process, we try to minimize the number of people who will handle the shipment so as to reduce the risk of damage and theft. Canaan Group uses state-of-the-art technology to monitor the shipping containers so that we can track whether unauthorized access has occurred. Our method is a much more reliable security measure against theft, as conventional container seals can be removed and re-installed without detection.

Customs Clearance

Once a shipment is in Canada, Canaan Group can also take care of customs clearance. In the retail industry, how the products and shipments are classified can impact the amount of tax that is charged. We can provide advice to make sure the right classifications are used and tax is minimized when possible. This is especially advantageous for time-sensitive cargo as we can control all aspects of shipping and provide real-time tracking.

Challenges for Importing Retail Products

With COVID, a lot of factories are short-staffed and behind on production because they are not operating full-time like they used to. This requires additional planning, and the ability to be flexible, have access to real-time data, and be in constant communication with the logistics team is a competitive advantage. Many of our clients have appreciated the responsiveness of our team, which allows them to respond to the changing priorities for what products need to be shipped and when.

Another main challenge is that retail demand is very seasonal. Shipment delays and missed deadlines have a big impact on retail sales, so having real-time information and reliable shipping is critical to success.

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Exporting Retail Products from Canada

The retail products we export out of Canada can be shipped by ocean or by air. We’ve exported retail products as well as components for retail products, like zippers and buttons.

When you ship with Canaan Group, you will need to provide us with the weight, dimensions, number of pallets, delivery window, and special requirements. From the time we pick up the goods, we pay close attention at every step, ensuring the safe handling and storage of the products. We will also clarify with you whether the terms are door to door delivery or to the airport or port.

Canaan Group can also guide you in deciding your insurance needs. Airlines and carriers only provide minimal insurance so depending on your product, you may need to buy additional insurance.

Finally, Canaan Group will assist you in gathering and submitting all relevant documentation so that your shipments can be processed smoothly. With offices in 75 countries, we have local experts who can provide on-the-ground answers to any questions.

Returning Cargo

Canaan Group also provides export services for return cargo. Whether parts were defective, damaged during transport, or the wrong part, we will help you navigate the protocol required for each supplier. To facilitate communication between supplier, receiver, and Canaan Group, we can set up either an electronic data interchange (EDI) or an application programming interface (API). We will work with you to ensure you have the appropriate original documents, get the customs consultations you need, check that taxes are minimized and not duplicated, and coordinate with overseas offices about which products need to be returned.


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Book a Consultation

If you are looking to ship retail products, book a consultation with us. We can discuss your needs, answer your questions, explain how it works, and explore your options to help you create a customized shipping plan. We can also give you a quote on your project so you know how best to move ahead. We look forward to serving you!

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