Welcome to our latest eCommerce and logistics news roundup!

This week, we’re talking about the EU-Singapore FTE, seeing how Canada’s getting its railways back on track, showing you how to capitalize on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and how UPS is upping its tracking game.

EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Goes into Effect

Following approval by the EU Council on November 8, a new EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement took effect on November 21. The FTA will remove virtually all customs duties between the two markets.

The agreement is the first between the EU - the world’s largest single market - and an ASEAN state. With it, 84 percent of Singaporean products - including food and electronics - will be able to enter the UE market duty-free. The remaining products are due to follow over the next three to five years.

Sustainability is also at the core of this new FTA. It contains rules about sustainable development which includes the protection of labour rights and the environment. With these rules, the agreement aims to remove barriers to trade and encourage investment in green technologies.

Easyship’s Take: The EU-Singapore FTA is a big win for SMBs in both markets. By removing customs duties in both markets, online retailers will have lower costs when shipping to both markets. And that’s great news for eCommerce retailers and customers in both markets.

Canadian National Railway Reaches Tentative Agreement to End Strike

Canada’s railway shipping came to a screeching halt nearly two weeks ago when conductors and yard operators went on a strike. Now, Canada National has finally agreed to a tentative deal with union specialists Teamsters Canada. Translation? The strike should be over just like that. The strike was in protest of working conditions and prescription benefits, and saw employees forced to work without contracts since July 23.

In recent days, railway shipping has been operating at 10 percent of capacity with the help of the railroad company’s administrative employees. With the negotiations reaching a successful conclusion, workers were due to return to work on November 26, with full operations resuming on November 27. Details of the deal are yet to be released, and it will still need to be ratified with a vote over the next eight weeks.

Although the strike’s immediate impact was on Canadian farmers in the midst of a crucial shipping period, it had wide-ranging effects on shipping throughout North America. This has been especially pertinent since October, when Canadian National began operating new intermodal services connecting Montreal and Southern Ontario to US cities around Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey.

Easyship’s Take: Strikes along shipping routes are always a major disruption - and can often happen unexpectedly. Luckily, it appears that the Canadan National strike will soon be a distant memory. And just in time for Christmas deliveries, too. It’s always good to be prepared for the holiday rush, though, which is why we’ve prepared this handy toolkit for surviving the festive season. And if you haven’t got insurance, now might be a good time to invest.

Capitalizing on  Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are huge money makers for online retailers. In fact, TransUnion’s 2019 Holiday Retail Fraud Survey found that 75 percent of Americans plan to do at least half their holiday shopping online this year. But, these shopping frenzies can cause a lot of headaches for naive shoppers. Unassuming online shoppers can easily fall prey to phishing scams, attachment viruses, card skimming and so much more over this weekend.

But of course, that’s not going to stop the online retail rush over Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Savvy eCommerce retailers will be trying to figure out how to maximize sales opportunities over the weekend, and mobile conversions may be the way to go. According to a new report from BounceX, a leading marketing technology firm, more people than ever will shop on their mobile rather than from a desktop this year, and mobile conversion rates have grown faster than any other device over the past three seasons. The mobile retail conversion rate over Black Friday is expected to increase by 27.9% from 2018, and that for Cyber Monday is expected to grow by 36.2 percent over 2018.

Easyship’s Take: You already know the holidays are full of sales opportunities for online retailers, but it’s clear that you need to keep up with the times to really capitalize. That means assuring your customers that they’re safe shopping with you with secure websites and visible security measures. And if you’ve not already done it, you may want to ramp up your app or mobile site to catch those cheeky mobile shoppers.

Shipping Giants Begin to Prioritize Healthcare Shipping

Worldwide carriers UPS will soon introduce a shipping services that will allow healthcare clients to track shipments at any point in their journey using sensors. Currently, UPS only tracks shipments at certain points of the delivery journey using visual cues. Called UPS Premier, the new service will focus on medicine, gene therapy, DNA, lab specimen, and investigative drug shipments. The service aims to ensure that these highly sensitive packages arrive at their destination in good time, no matter what may happen on the journey.

UPS isn’t the first one to realize the importance of healthcare shipments, though. FedEx already has a standalone logistics service called SenseAware that deals exclusively in healthcare shipments. Clearly, health is becoming such a worldwide priority that even logistics companies have to get in on in.

Easyship’s Take: Even if you aren’t involved in healthcare, it’s interesting to see how carriers are beginning to cater to important industries. Plus, if all goes well, UPS plans to to extend this sensor-led tracking service to other industries, which means you could have better eyes on your most important shipments.