Solving a cross-border logistics challenge

Trends International

How UPS helped Trends International get its products to 250 stores in Mexico, using consolidated clearance solutions for both small package and freight shipments.

“Hey, Jon, I need to ship packages direct to a couple hundred stores in Mexico, and I need to do it tomorrow.”

“If it wasn’t for UPS, we may not have closed this deal – meaning we might not be in Mexico at all right now.”
– Trends International’s Steve Paterson

Jon Witherbee, UPS International area sales manager, had been working with Trends International, the leading publisher and manufacturer of licensed posters, calendars, stickers and licensed stationery products in North America, for several years. He’d faced challenging questions before. But when Steve Paterson, Trends’ vice president of supply chain and operations, hit him with that one, it quickly raised the bar.

“At first, I thought Steve might be joking,” Witherbee recalls. “But he wasn’t.”

After much success and growth in the United States and Canada, Trends was looking to generate new retail distribution south of the border. They thought Mexico could be as lucrative – or more -- than Canada.

“Then one day, our sales guys came to me,” Paterson remembers. “They said, ‘Guess what? We just sold 250 new retail locations. How do we get product to them?’ All of a sudden it was a logistics issue.”

With the peak holiday season looming, it was also a timing issue. Trends, based in Indianapolis, Ind., wanted the flexibility to ship posters, calendars and other items based on individual store-level demand and timetables, while still meeting their own margin goals. Plus, they wanted to do it without building or leasing a distribution center in Mexico. “We already did cross-border business with this retailer in Canada,” notes Paterson. “But Mexico was a bit of an unknown for our folks. Language barriers, currency barriers, border barriers…all kinds of barriers we had to sort out in a hurry.”

The UPS team hit the ground running. “Steve needed to manage variable volume,” Witherbee says. “They had to ship orders to individual stores, based on each store’s unique demand. They needed both a small package and a freight solution.”

For small package shipments, the team was able to leverage our economical UPS® Standard ground service with World Ease® processing, which helps simplify customs clearance by consolidating multiple shipments destined for the same country into one, regardless of size. Consolidating shipments can mean less documentation to complete and a much faster and lower-cost international shipping process. Once cleared through Customs, the consolidated shipment is broken up and delivered directly to individual stores.

“UPS’s World Ease service was a perfect fit for us,” Paterson says. “By consolidating shipments at our facility they moved quickly into Mexico. Once the shipments were deconsolidated, they moved to each store based on demand levels. Plus, UPS helped save us money by reducing brokerage costs.”

UPS had a unique solution for freight shipments, too. UPS Trade Direct® service, a compliant DC (distribution center) bypass solution, consolidates freight shipments before they ship, so they clear Customs as just one shipment. Once through customs, the larger shipment is broken down into individual shipments and sent directly to each store. This can help significantly reduce transit times.

“UPS Trade Direct and World Ease services can take days out of the supply chain,” Witherbee says, “And with fewer touches across borders, both cost and the risk of Customs holds are reduced.” Adds Paterson: “Orders get to each retailer quicker, so we get paid quicker, too.”

Since posing the Mexico challenge to UPS, Trends has grown distribution to more than 750 stores in Mexico, and store sales growth has nearly doubled the pace of its sales in U.S. stores.

“If it wasn’t for UPS, we may not have closed this deal,” Paterson acknowledges. “Meaning we might not be in Mexico at all right now. Instead, we’ve proven to a major retailer that we are a viable solution and an excellent supplier. Now we’ve got our sights set on other retailers there.”


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