Selling and shipping unique and high-value items can be daunting — each shipment is different from the last one and it is easy to get lost in the many steps, vendors, requirements, fees, and paperwork.
Arta’s ability to seamlessly handle these highly variable situations on behalf of our clients is a key reason why they choose us in the first place. That being said, before we delve into how the Arta platform streamlines these complex processes, let’s start with an overview of the workflows and concepts that typically make up logistics and international commerce.
Typical workflows require you to
- Get shipping quotes from one or more vendors
- Book and pay for the quote you’ve selected
- Coordinate the release and delivery of the packed items while providing your buyers a view into the tracking and status of that shipment
The shape and complexity of any of these steps can vary widely based on the shipment’s details. There are other important considerations that can further introduce delays, cost, and manual intervention — namely, purchasing transit insurance and cross-border requirements for international shipments.
Let’s dig into each of these steps and considerations in greater detail.
If you’d like to skip the details below and would prefer to read about how Arta solves many of these pain points right away, feel free to jump straight to the “Arta Shipping Overview” guide.
1. Getting shipping quotes
After a high-value item has sold, the next step is to figure out how are you going to ship the item to its buyer and what that will ultimately cost. The shape of this process can be highly dependent on the item itself, the nature of your business, your internal staffing, and your existing contacts within the logistics industry.
Typically, you will first want to answer a few questions for your company and the transaction:
- What level of service do we need to provide? Some transactions may require white-glove delivery via a specialized climate-controlled fleet with room-of-choice installation. Other transactions can be sufficiently delivered over commercial carrier networks like UPS, FedEx, or DHL.
- Will we be doing the packing ourselves? If you have the internal capability and materials to pack high-value goods securely in crates, you may decide to pack and release the items yourself. Otherwise, you will typically want to work with a specialized shipper who can manage packing and collection on your behalf.
2. Booking a Shipment
Once you have compared the quotes that best fit your price and service requirements, you’ll want to book the shipment with a carrier.
- For commercial parcel carriers this may simply be a matter of purchasing a shipping label from the carrier’s own website. Usually, you can then print the label and affix it to your packed items.
- For specialized shipping carriers, booking may require several additional interactions over email, fax, and/or phone with the carrier and in some cases your buyer. Payment authorization is often also handled manually in this step which further complicates the process.
3. Release, tracking, and delivery
Now that you have booked and paid for a shipment, the next steps involve releasing the valuables to the carrier you have selected.
For shipments handled by commercial parcel carriers, you will likely be required
- to package the items to ensure that they are not damaged or stolen during transit. Fragile items such as glassware or artwork may need to be packed in custom crates or boxes with protective cushioning to prevent breakage
- to either physically drop off the package or coordinate a collection at your address through the carrier’s website
From there, your package should proceed to the destination and you can likely provide the commercial parcel carrier’s own tracking website information to your buyer so that they can remain informed about the shipment’s progress.
For shipments serviced by a specialized shipper, you will likely be required
- to schedule a release to the shipper so that they can come to your location and securely pack the valuables you are shipping. This is usually accomplished by email or over the phone.
Most specialized shippers do not provide real-time updates or tracking on the shipments they service. Consequently, you may be required to serve as a go-between for your buyers and the shippers when the buyers have questions about the status of the items they are expecting to receive.
Insuring your shipments
Though commercial parcel carriers and specialized shipping carriers are generally reliable, packages still get lost and damaged, and you want to be prepared for when they do.
Transit insurance is a type of insurance that provides coverage for goods or products while they are being transported from one location to another.
For shipments serviced by specialized art shippers, transit insurance can be purchased through a third-party insurance provider to protect valuable artwork from damage or loss during transport.
By following these extra steps, specialized art shipments can be protected with transit insurance during transport, giving you and your buyer peace of mind that the valuable artwork is protected in case of damage or loss.
Cross-border documentation and fees
Shipments that cross international borders require additional steps. These may include supplemental documentation for customs clearance as well as the payment of duties and taxes.
Customs clearance is the process of inspecting and approving the goods for entry into the destination country. This process can take several days or even weeks, depending on the country and the type of goods being shipped. Once the goods have been cleared by customs, the recipient will be responsible for paying any duties and taxes associated with the shipment.
How Arta streamlines these workflows
The mission for Arta’s shipping products and services is explicitly to reduce your stress and delay at each stage we’ve discussed above. From instant quoting to cross-border facilitation, insurance, and tracking, Arta’s platform automates and facilitates the process. This improves your operational efficiency and delivers a consistent and high-quality experience for your buyers regardless of the transport mode you select for a given shipment.
Next up, let’s survey common integration strategies to map out how Arta can fit into your current business today as well as into your future visions and expanded technical roadmaps.