Starting from July, how goods move in and out of Europe will change entirely as new regulations go into effect. What does this mean for consumers? A lot more delays and higher taxes. What about e-commerce and logistics companies? Tons of paperwork and returned goods from dissatisfied customers…unless they start using Eurora.
So what is Eurora? It’s an Estonian company that offers AI-based automated services that deal with customs regulations on the borders. In other words, it helps marketplaces and logistic companies move goods through customs and deal with regulations that different countries have. Meaning it is, in fact, useful worldwide, not only when importing or exporting to and from Europe.
“We have the know-how to consult marketplaces in 150 countries and counting,” says Eurora’s Head of Marketing Alexander Maasik. “Let’s say there’s an Asian marketplace, and they cannot ship to Estonia because they lack an expert who knows Estonian laws and regulations. We have a division that only deals with different customs regulations globally. While Amazon might be developing a system that they will be able to use themselves for this purpose – I don’t see them selling it to their competitors. Our product, on the other hand, can be sold and used globally.”
8 billion declarations done by hand
“If you want to order something outside of the EU, buy it now,” Maasik urges. “See what happened after Brexit? 1/3 of the packages sent to the UK are now sent back – people refuse to pay the taxes that the shops failed to tell them about. A little unknown fact, though – it is cheaper to burn the goods than to send them back to the mainland. The UK is just one country; in July, entire Europe will be affected.”
Maasik spells it out by giving a simple example based on the current Estonian reality: “Say you ordered something from China. If it costs less than 22€ – you buy it, it gets into Estonia, you receive it, end of the story. But if the value of what you buy costs more, it comes through customs; you have to fill in a declaration or pay someone else 10€ to do it, and only then you can get it. After July 1st, that 22€ limit will be eliminated, and EVERYTHING will follow the same rules, go through customs, need to be declared, etc.”
Maasik says there are going to be up to 8 billion more declarations done on the EU border after July. And these declarations are still primarily done by hand!
Declaring is completely automated on Eurora’s platform; the process takes only a hundred milliseconds, costing mere cents.
“Big marketplaces can attach us to their system. Using our services, the customer chooses something they like on that marketplace and will see all the costs displayed in front of them immediately. No nasty surprises upon arrival!”
5 billion euros lost annually
“This regulation has a lot of good things, too. The situation needed to be regulated. After all, the EU is losing a lot of money because many expensive goods are not often declared correctly. They estimate the losses to be around 5 billion euros per year for 27 countries combined,” Maasik says.
The founders of Eurora have built their business from that pain. “Our entire product and three years of research have been made based on the EU regulations; we were the first to start working on it,” claims Maasik. The company has done a lot of collaboration with universities. In fact, for them, everything has to be scientifically backed and researched.
AI does all the heavy lifting
Eurora has trained an AI with machine-learning to look at random descriptions of, say a mobile phone and make sure all the shipping info for buying one is correct. “Thanks to scientific research, we do not have to do anything manually; our product is very scalable.”
Part of this is an AI that can double-check that you can ship specific items to a country or person. For instance, if you try to buy a knife from an online shop somewhere. The system checks how long a knife can enter Estonia (it varies from Germany, for example), and are you a person who can accept this? Maybe you are a criminal on a blacklist?
Hearing all this makes me think that the amazons and ebays of the world should be flocking behind Eurora’s door? “We are talking with all the big marketplaces, but I cannot reveal anything yet. But our system can be used by any shop in the world,” Maasik remains tight-lipped.
So come July 1st, and you’ll have hundreds, thousands of clients wanting to join. Will your system be able to handle it?
“Our systems will be ready, depending on how quickly the deals can be made. I am confident we will have a lot of big contracts by July. We have representatives worldwide – in the UK, Europe, Asia, the US, next month we will be opening an office in Shanghai.”
Maasik confides that as a data company, Eurora already understands that the big marketplaces, shops are not ready for what’s coming, the postal services either. “We will take a significant market share and help companies out, but there’s going to be trouble in July – even we cannot avoid it all.”
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communications manager at the e-estonia briefing centre