Greasing the Wheels

The World Wide Web is not always as worldwide as its name suggests, especially in the realm of global e-commerce. Sure, a customer in Iceland can go to a US company's Web site and place an order, but will the order ever arrive?

With the complex web of tariffs, trade restrictions and customs regulations that encircles the globe, the seemingly simple act of shipping an order abroad can be next to impossible. And as online exchanges continue to explode, global commerce is becoming an even more pressing problem.

But where there's a problem, there's opportunity, and two companies have set out to ease the hassle of sending and receiving items worldwide.

The newer of the two is myCustoms (www.mycustoms.com), a California-based vendor that promises to provide a streamlined process for companies looking to transact business in countries around the world.

"We're providing a service that allows any company to trade globally," says CTO Jay Shen. MyCustoms helps companies toward that end by calculating, for each transaction, requirements such as value-added taxes and duties, and then generating required forms both electronically and manually.

While myCustoms is obviously targeting small companies that do not have international business processes in place, Shen says larger businesses can also use the service to boost efficiency in shipping and receiving items internationally.

MyCustoms is not alone, however. New York City-based ClearCross (www.clearcross.com) actually beat it to the international punch. The company's ClearCross Network technology offers functionality that includes calculating shipping and duty costs, creating documents, monitoring compliance standards and tracking shipments.

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