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AdexinBlogThe role of documents in international eCommerce shipping

The role of documents in international eCommerce shipping

Mar 7, 2024
5 min

Meet customer expectations in eCommerce

You may think about what constitutes your eCommerce delivery and how to streamline the overall goods flow through different channels. You may also struggle with obstacles such as particular things as document management. This especially happens when you’re a small and medium-sized business that faces rapidly growing demand. Along with demands comes to light the need to smooth the process of the documents.

Here we explain how to improve your eCommerce document management. We also reveal the importance of handling shipments internationally with the best partners in handling deliveries in cross-border shipping.

What are the elements of an eCommerce business?

When we think about eCommerce, the very first thing that pops up in our minds is a great-looking website and how products are exposed. Sadly, in many cases, even the product isn't as important as marketing performance in promoting goods offered via online platforms. This business is so saturated that no one can say completely what the total components of an eCommerce business are. Nevertheless, we know essential elements of eCommerce drive your business.

Website or online store

Your website serves as the main gateway for your eCommerce business. It provides a platform for customers to browse and buy products or services online.

Shopping cart software and shipping options

Reliable shopping cart software is essential to facilitate smooth transactions and manage customer orders. Many systems offer integrations within eCommerce online stores to provide a better experience.

Payment processing with shipping labels system (the best with international payments getaway)

Ecommerce financial flow needs to be provided by the system for payment processing that can seamlessly handle international transactions. It should at the same time integrate with leading payment gateways to offer a variety of payment options around the world.

Infrastructure and security for better shipping options

Ecommerce needs a resilient software infrastructure and implements strong security protocols to protect customer data and maintain the integrity of its eCommerce platform.

Inventory management system to ensure flat-rate shipping

Ecommerce requires a solid inventory management system is essential to effectively track product availability, manage inventory levels, and optimize order fulfillment processes for flat-rate shipping. It can simply lower shipping costs or keep them on an unchanged level.

Order fulfillment and eCommerce shipping solutions  

Partner with reputable carriers and fulfillment services to ensure fast and reliable delivery of orders to customers worldwide.

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Marketing and strategic market analysis for lowering shipping costs

Implement targeted marketing strategies to attract and retain customers with free shipping methods, including SEO, social media campaigns, email marketing, and content creation.

Taking into account these elements, we want to emphasize the high importance of two of them that are crucial for the entire eCommerce business. We're referring here to distribution with warehousing and the shipping process. For many eCommerce companies, these capabilities will be provided by companies that offer delivery fulfillment services. Throughout that process, companies must deal with an extensive amount of documents, from which most of the issues de facto arise.

Ecommerce industry challenges

As we mentioned earlier, document handling is crucial for smooth management within the eCommerce landscape, especially when dealing with cross-border shipping. Given that the eCommerce document workflow is extensive and should ensure copies of various documentation from invoices to POD throughout the supply chain and delivery, it is important for businesses not to underestimate its importance.

In February 2024, we had a great opportunity to visit the E-Commerce Berlin Expo 2024.

E-Commerce Berlin 2024: eCommerce expo and fulfillment solutions

Article by:
George Maksimenko

The event was dedicated to the complexity of eCommerce, and among many companies, we were able to hear a presentation from Chris Hodge, eCommerce marketing manager at FedEx, which is one of the best eCommerce shipping companies in the world.

Chris Hodge presentation at E-Commerce Berlin 2024
Chris Hodge presentation at E-Commerce Berlin 2024

During his presentation, we learned that the main conclusion was that when your business is growing and you want to sell abroad, it is crucial to ensure that all sticking points with customers and stakeholders are addressed in the right manner. This should be crucial in eCommerce shipping strategy.

Chris Hodge presentation at E-Commerce Berlin 2024: about the importance of website authenticity
Chris Hodge presentation at E-Commerce Berlin 2024: about the importance of website authenticity

For example, all documents and shipping instructions should be translated. As Chris Hodge emphasized, eCommerce owners should be cautious about another black box: customs regulations. Neglecting this area can result in up to 94% of shipments overseas facing delays in total eCommerce shipping. In fact, it will also affect eCommerce shipping costs. [1]

We already heard about this issue when we heard from another expert in customs law, attorney-at-law Ward Lietaert from Antwerp. But in those cases, we were talking about a much larger scale where companies faced fines of nearly €7,000,000 due to neglecting to follow the customs regulations caused by a lack of proper documentation. Therefore, as you may see, there is much more that is important to provide the highest level of shipping services.

We can summarize the typical problems associated with international shipping with eCommerce documents, as well as bulk shipping:

  • Country of origin to ensure shipping zones. The correct country from which the products are shipped is not specified.

  • HS codes for shipping speed. No correct classification of materials used in products according to HS or HTS codes.

  • Incoterms for more reliable shipping. There are no accurate codes specifying obligations and costs in goods transactions.

  • Correct documentation for express shipping. There are many errors in the documentation that lead to penalties delays and very costly returns.

  • Export Control Classification Number (ECCN). Failure to specify whether products require an export license regardless of HS codes.

  • Value and customs shipping fees. The incorrect value indicates the price paid, such as shipping fees, by the buyer, not the selling price, on commercial invoices (value is often lowered when shipping to the US to avoid paying duties).

  • Dangerous goods and shipping labels. Lack of proper handling and shipping labels of hazardous materials.

  • Freight class and free shipping. Failure to accurately indicate freight class to avoid adjustment costs.

Eсommerce shipping solutions for handling documents

Handling documents correctly is indeed crucial in overcoming the challenges of cross-border shipping, especially during periods of rapid growth. Each country has its own set of regulations, adding complexity to the process. Moreover, there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution for every eCommerce business. In the end, you may see that all challenges will vary based on the nature of the business.

In eCommerce, where various stages of the purchase process are interconnected, it's essential to ensure that each stage — from supplying warehouses to final delivery — is supported by appropriate documentation. This may include commercial invoices, proof of delivery, purchase orders, customs clearance documentation, and various other forms of paperwork necessary for successful shipping internationally.

Navigating these complexities requires careful attention to detail and a thorough understanding of the legal and regulatory frameworks in each country involved in the eCommerce shipping process.

Partnering with experienced international shipping providers can greatly alleviate the burden and ensure smoother operations. However, for the shipping process, you may enter into cooperation with companies such as FedEx. But when handling documents from warehouses and supplying them to customers, you need a separate solution that will be integrated with distribution centers and carriers.

One solution for handling documents is a Document Management System (DMS). Having a digital document management system for eCommerce allows you to utilize many functions and avoid costly errors. Here are some of the functions of a DMS system and eCommerce shipping integrations:

Capture and conversion

You have the option to efficiently convert delivery documents from different sources.


It gives you the power to manage high-quality scans without data loss with optical character recognition (OCR).


You can organize data fields for easy retrieval.

Archiving and retrieval

There is the capability to securely store and retrieve documents, which improves your shipping service.

Workflow management

The ability to effectively manage workflow and remote access to documents, regardless of shipping regulations.

Version control

There is an option to automatically manage and audit document versions for expedited shipping.

Order tracking

You can centrally track orders and customer information, which can help you lower eCommerce shipping rates.



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The key to success in eCommerce shipping is paying attention to the basics. Companies can face significant delays simply by not keeping their documentation in order or with errors. These seemingly small issues can cause major problems for businesses that ship several trailers a day from distribution centers. Therefore, it's important to address these issues from the beginning, even for small and medium-sized businesses that are increasingly involved in cross-border shipping.

One solution to handling these issues is deploying a fully integrated distribution document management system for better eCommerce shipping methods. This system can automate specifically designed workflows for document flow within your essential shipping process, improving your delivery process. it can also integrate with shipping software, such as fleet management systems.

Adexin is a company that provides custom software development services to eCommerce businesses. One of our solutions is a DMS system that can empower your business with advanced features. Contact us today to see if we can support your business with cutting-edge software development.


[1] E-commerce Berlin:



What are the elements of eCommerce?

Elements of eCommerce include a website or online store, shopping cart software, payment processing systems, infrastructure and security measures, inventory management systems, order fulfillment and shipping processes, and marketing strategies.

What are the challenges of international shipping in eCommerce?

Challenges associated with international eCommerce shipping include country-of-origin documentation issues, misclassification of HS codes, problems with Incoterms, documentation errors leading to penalties and delays, failure to specify ECCN, incorrect declaration of value, inadequate handling of dangerous goods, and inaccuracies in indicating freight class.

What was the main conclusion highlighted during the presentation by Chris Hodge of FedEx?

The main conclusion highlighted during Chris Hodge's presentation was the importance of resolving disputes with customers and stakeholders, especially when expanding overseas. It was stressed that translating all documents and shipping instructions and being careful with customs regulations are key steps to ensure smooth operations.

What are the typical problems associated with international shipping documents?

Typical problems associated with international shipping documents include misidentification of the country of origin and misclassification of HS codes.

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