“What do we need an iPhone app for?” Was the question asked when I suggested attending an iPhone Developer Course in the 2011. After some convincing, I registered and flew to Atlanta, Georgia to attend the course. A year later, Pacific Customs Brokers releases “BorderPro” iPhone application v1.As the General Manager of Information Technology for Pacific Customs Brokers, it was obvious from the beginning, Pacific's commitment to technology.
In the early 1990's, Pacific's primary focus was to be established on the internet, with email services and websites. Shortly after, we developed a PDF document system (www.formlink.com) that allowed our clients to submit customs documentation directly through an online forms system, which is still used by many of our clients today for both U.S. and Canadian documentation.
Almost 20 years later the technology landscape is quite different. The focus now is on services and website users expect more than just marketing material. The reach of internet is everywhere and smartphones, iPhones and iPads are now commonplace. Mobiles are becoming the platform (some might argue it has already became the platform) and Pacific Customs Brokers recognizes the need for an iPhone Application for carriers.
The concept was a fairly simple one, create an iPhone app that exposes our PARS and SCN tracking lookups. Our existing website based tracking is heavily used by many carriers servicing our clients for tracking the release status of shipments. Our development focus over the past 10 years has been on web-based solutions. Developing an iPhone app required a change in our development process, a change in technology and a re-tooling of our backend web-services to leverage the iPhone platform.
An iPhone application is quite different from the fluid nature of developing website based applications. With a website we can tweak on the fly, make changes, test and fix. The iPhone development is much more stringent - it is about getting it right before it is released. For us this meant rethinking our design process, our marketing process and our development process from the ground up.
The “BorderPro” iPhone app is a first for Pacific Customs Brokers, and a first in North America for a purpose built customs brokerage tracking application. It provides direct lookups for both PARS and SCN entries into our backend systems - giving the end user real-time clearance status updates. It also provides the end user the ability to subscribe to a SCN or PARS tracking feed and receive SMS/Text messages with up to date tracking changes for any number of PARS or SCN numbers. Any client can easily track and get tracking updates from any iPhone anywhere, anytime of the day or night.
The BorderPro iPhone app is the result of close to a year of planning, testing, design, and learning and is clearly a stepping stone into the future for Pacific Customs Brokers. Our IT team has plans for the next version of our iPhone app that will add new features and functionality to this platform making it even more useful to our customers, clients and partners.During that time, Pacific has taken many twists and turns, but always committed to technology. Learn more about the BorderPro iPhone app »