We write about how to run, manage, and grow global trade sales and operations.

Early Return Date (ERD) Nightmares and What to Do

ERD (Earliest Return Date, sometimes called Early Return Date). This simple 3-letter acronym has become a necessary evil for ocean carriers and the source of nightmares for shippers.  (If you know about ERD and want to skip to the chase to help us tackle ERD issues: Sign up here to participate in an anonymous research project to minimize ERD pains.) 

ERDs can, and do, change. And they change far too often, from a shipper’s perspective. Worse still, they frequently changed with very little notice to the shipper.

If there is one thing that can disrupt a shipment and wreak havoc on a shipping coordinator's day, it is finding out the day before loading that the ERD was pushed out 3 days and that your window to load those 25 containers has shrunk from 5 days to 2 days.

Now, what do I do? The warehouse or transloader is expecting to load 5 containers per day. The trucker has arranged to load the 5 containers per day. If I keep the same loading schedule, I will have extra costs - for the trucker to dray the containers to their yard, storage to hold the containers on their yard, additional daily chassis usage fees. Or, I can try to change the loading dates with the warehouse or transloader and see if the trucker can load all 25 containers in 2 days?

This may require additional dray to accomplish the work and will definitely result in a higher dray rate.  Now, it becomes a cost juggling exercise.

(Related: read a mini-case study on how to change docs in minutes not hours.)

Global trade coordinators and export logistics teams alike are pained. How do you explain the increase in costs to senior management? Why was the margin lower than expected on the trade? Is this just the cost of doing business? Do you accept the status quo from the lines? Do shippers deserve better?  Do carriers understand the financial impact on shippers when ERD changes? Do they even really care?

At TradeLanes, our job is to remove friction from global trade. ERD is one of those frictions. We currently have solutions that make updating documents, splitting bookings, and updating instructions to your partners as easy as 3 clicks, and are now exploring how to leverage technology and machine learning to help minimize the ERD issue.

Our first step is research to understand the scope, character and cost of the problem: we’re conducting interviews and surveys and sharing the information back with participants. If you’re willing to be interviewed and receive our findings in return, please leave us your information here.  


And, if you're interested in talking with us about your operations to see how TradeLanes can help make your trade operations easier, faster, and more profitable, contact us at market.insights@tradelanes.co


About Us

TradeLanes Trade Delivery Platform is the new generation of global trade management software.  TradeLanes brings global trade execution entirely online, automating and streamlining all aspects of an international sale - from issuance of sales contracts to product quality, inventory allocation, fulfillment, bookings, loading, shipment workflow and execution - and applying machine learning ensure that cargo is delivered on-time and at-margin.