The apparel & footwear industry comprises firms that design and sell clothing, footwear and accessories. As an industry, Apparel & Footwear leads globalization efforts. In 2012, 97.5% of the apparel and 98% of the footwear sold in the United States were manufactured in foreign countries. Chief among the nations producing apparel and footwear are Mexico, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh, among others.
To stay competitive, U.S. firms must source production internationally to take advantage of free trade agreements and lower material and labor costs. However, overseas production requires up-to-date content on denied parties, international trade requirements, logistics and more. Global trade manage software is essential to manage processes – logistics, regulatory, financial – and enhance collaboration among supply chain partners, so goods can reach their destination in a timely, secure and cost-effective manner.
QuestaWeb offers apparel and footwear companies an integrated suite of global trade management (GTM) solutions specifically designed to meet their unique needs and requirements. Our global trade management software promotes product movement in the most secure, visible and compliant manner possible, while monitoring applicable laws and preferential programs and advising on anticipated costs in real time. Built-in flexibility enables QuestaWeb’s software solutions for apparel importers, exporters, foreign trade zone operators/managers, brokers and forwarders to adapt to your business process, rather than force you to adopt ours.
View Case Study
Michael R. Spano Automates Importer Security Filing with QuestaWeb’s 10+2 (ISF) Module
Michael R. Spano & Co., Inc. is a national customs house broker and import consulting firm. The company is headquartered in New York, with an office located near JFK International Airport and an affiliate in Los Angeles. While Spano customers represent virtually every business type, the firm caters to the fashion industry in particular.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) implemented the 10+2 Importer Security Filing (ISF) regulation in 2009 to improve targeting of high-risk cargo. It requires importers to electronically submit 10 additional data elements for ocean-going cargo bound for the United States prior to vessel departure. Each violation carries the potential for a $5,000 fine.
Despite a long phase-in period, many importers were not prepared to gather data from their supply chain partners around the globe, map it to CBP’s 10 data elements and electronically submit ISFs to Customs. Michael R. Spano & Co. sought to fulfill this business need for its customers and other importers. Owner Michael Spano shares, “Most of us in the trade knew that no one was going to get rich preparing ISF filings, but no one wanted to lose money either. Manually preparing them was not cost effective; it was a duplication of existing information.”
Spano continues, “I hired outside consultants to review the efficiencies available through automation and point us in the right direction. As an attorney, data confidentiality and security were important to me.”
“QuestaWeb’s 10+2 (ISF) stand-alone module was the clear choice,” says Spano. “It offers design enhancements that importers and customs brokers need, such as document binders, proprietary file formats and options for data input and editing. Its built-in security features fully addressed my concerns for client privacy and data piracy.”
Spano deployed QuestaWeb’s 10+2 (ISF) module in April 2009 on a server behind his firm’s firewall. Importers, overseas vendors and freight forwarders then log onto Spano’s password-protected website and input their data. Then, Spano personnel review all data for accuracy and compliance before electronically submitting the ISF to CBP. If Michael R. Spano also serves as the firm’s customs broker, the module automatically creates a brokerage file within Spano’s Customs House Broker module, also developed by QuestaWeb.
QuestaWeb’s 10+2 (ISF) module supports built-in standardized file formats and offers the ability to map proprietary ones using specially designed integration points interface. It offers complete control of ISF processes, transmissions and data quality. It is available both as a stand-alone module and as part of the TradeMasterQW suite of global trade management products.
“We have cut ISF processing time in half,” say Spano. “QuestaWeb has provided us a product that fulfills all our ISF responsibilities for clients.” Spano estimates that his firm files over 100 ISFs per month. Since QuestaWeb’s 10+2 module eliminates transaction fees for both filing and amending ISFs, Michael R. Spano & Co. is saving not only personnel time but also needless filing costs.
Spano continues, “Data elements are shared within the QuestaWeb system. From a customs perspective, working within the QuestaWeb system allows for banked information. When its utilities are used, error factors diminish and mistakes are identified and easily corrected.” Extensive built-in communication capabilities maintain bidirectional information flow at all times, assuring that information remains current as conditions change. Timely amendments can be filed, when necessary.
Spano feels strongly that “sensitive information does not belong in the hands of forwarders or other elements in the supply chain.” The QuestaWeb system provides unique passwords to overseas vendors and freight forwarders whereby they can access the system and input their data either in a manual or an automated mode and their access to other systems information is completely controlled and limited by customer definitions. Advanced system functionality then builds ISFs automatically from purchase orders and commercial invoices and electronically ties the final entry information back to the ISF filing for efficient recall when needed.
“QuestaWeb has more than provided a valuable and secure program for10+2 filing,” comments Spano. “The fact that the information is available in a secure environment over the web has paid dividends for my firm repeatedly.”
Spano explains, “In the fashion industry, my customers look at their sources as information that must be kept absolutely private. Yet, 10+2 requires reporting of a firm’s IRS number. There are obvious issues with having one’s IRS number accessible over the Internet. QuestaWeb’s module keeps that number—and any other customer-defined information—totally secure and inaccessible. Customs, however, allows the public to purchase information from vessel manifests, which includes IRS numbers, shipper identity, product being shipped by whom to whom, etc. Using the provisions of 19 C.F.R 103.31, we have requested confidentiality of our customers’ information. Together, the QuestaWeb module and the filing for confidentiality ensure competitors do not obtain private company information.”
While Spano freely admits that there are many features of the QuestaWeb system that he likes, he points to the document binder as being invaluable to customs brokers in particular. QuestaWeb’s document binder keeps track of trade and compliance documents, stores images and informs responsible parties of possible violations caused by document expiration or unavailability. “Participation in CBP audits is effective and uncomplicated due to this functionality,” says Spano.
QuestaWeb’s 10+2 module offers great flexibility, allowing easy modification to meet customers’ unique business requirements. When Michael R. Spano & Co. identified the need for an ISF copy feature, QuestaWeb immediately accommodated this request. Spano explains, “A lot of ISF work is very repetitive: same suppliers, same consolidation points, same delivery locations, etc. To be able to take the data and reproduce them means fewer elements to type, fewer input mistakes to be made and quicker information availability. It’s like building a library from which you can draw. This function has been extremely valuable on our repetitive business.”
Wayne Slossberg, Vice President of QuestaWeb comments, “The biggest challenge importers, and their agents, face is quality of information—what to get, how to get it, how to manage it and how to communicate it. QuestaWeb’s 10+2 module gives them the technology to manage and communicate the required information accurately and efficiently. With QuestaWeb’s integrated technology, importers not only gain control over 10+2 requirements but also build a technology foundation for future global trade needs without fear of software obsolescence.”