If you are looking to upgrade your shipping logistics management, digital freight forwarding might be the best solution.

Disruption of existing freight forwarding businesses by digital rivals comes in many forms. Some of the interlopers offer cloud-based e-forwarding services, or use models built on analysing rates and data and selling information. Others provide sales platforms, linking shippers and carriers, and take commission on deals as brokers, while the largest tech companies now offer full supply chain management suites with bolt-on forwarding options.

International freight is incredibly complex. There are dozens of people involved in each shipment; Maersk estimates an average of 200 interactions from 30 people in shipping a single container. Visibility of a shipment is limited to the lowest common denominator of involved carriers, making even the most advanced provider struggle with real-time reporting.

The point of digital freight forwarding

The practice of digital freight forwarding focuses on rigorous self-control, maintaining inner calm and most importantly of all, benefiting others. Wonderful pursuits all, but ‘inner calm’ and ‘beneficial’ are probably not descriptions that the average shipping business attributes to their experience managing shipping logistics.

A digital freight forwarding company should be a one-stop shop which organises the many processes involved in importing and exporting any type of cargo to anywhere in the world. Given that the industry has remained relatively unchanged for decades, the age of digital transformation is a necessary replacement for the logistics dinosaurs who haven’t evolved beyond paper manifests, and still comprise the majority of the industry.

What makes old school logistics management so frustrating in the first place?

Traditionally, shippers from the majority of shipping businesses globally rely on freight forwarders to be the intermediary between themselves and transport businesses. For the most part these old school companies use outdated management methods that are frequently plagued by tedious back-and-forth communications over email and telephone between a logistics manager and the many players involved regarding specifics of volumes, freight size, routes, timetables, costs, tariffs, and worst of all, delays.

The old school model means delays often don’t get communicated in a timely manner – and that’s simply bad for business. On top of all this, there’s the paper! Paper stacks up in the forms of manifests and bills of lading which over time can add up to an unwieldy paper trail.

For those not in the know, a bill of lading is a legal document between a business doing the shipping and the carrier. It details the type, quantity and destination of the goods being carried. And you need one for each separate step of your freight’s journey, every time you ship.

To whom digital freight forwarding may be benefited?

Put simply, the digital freight forwarding approach benefits any business which operates regular international importing or exporting to the extent that they require monthly freight management.

Freight Forwarders today are where travel agents were in the late 90s. It is just a matter of time until booking a container from a manufacturing facility in Tianjin to a warehouse in Jakarta is as easy as booking a weekend trip on Indonesia’s infamous travel e-commerce.

Sources: Sami Khleif on MediumSmall Business. 

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