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Digital modernization of old school Freight Forwarding Networks

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Digital modernization of old school Freight Forwarding Networks

The Freight Forwarding industry in its current form has been around for several decades. According to market research, the value of the global freight forwarding market in terms of revenue wasmore than US$142 billion in 2016, with an estimated year on year volume growth of 2.7%. Freight forwarders small and large have been working closely with agents and counterparts in other parts of the world.

In an effort to modernize this very traditional and largely fragmented industry, membership-based freight forwarding and logistics networks were formed to create exclusive global logistics networks. They were aimed at helping independent forwarders of all sizes in various countries build better businesses with one another, foster collaboration and challenge the big multinationals in the transportation industry.

While these traditional freight forwarder networks created transparency,better connections and safe collaborations, the business model was not a breakthrough by anymeans. The way members conduct their businesses has remained the same, and the industry has been labelled antiquated and outdated. If one looks at it objectively, it is easy to understand that it is the Freight Forwarder’s lack of digital resources and technological capability that has been restraining competitive growth in this volatile and digital market conditions.

Naturally, this has been noticed and the industry is seen by innovators in the technology space as a prime candidate for disruption. They say that a paradigm shift is required if a freight forwarder aims to remain relevant, competitive and achieve greater efficiency. These endeavors have created a new entity, the Digital Freight Forwarder, a new breed of freight forwarders who are disrupting the freight industry armed with venture capital investments and the
ability to offer the services of a freight forwarder but online, on an instant basis using modern technology and data.
But making a real impact, even for a digital freight forwarder, is easier said than done as there are several entities and processes involved in freight forwarding and creating a solution that suits everyone can be a bit of a challenge.

Not to mention the cost of creating an advanced platform capable of handling all the requirements of
this dynamic market.

According to Mick Morris the CEO & Co-founder of Buytasker’s “over the last several years a few
solutions have arrived but at exorbitant costs providing a barrier to entry for most small to medium sized forwarders.”

But the freight forwarding industry has been resilient and have been able to come up with solutions for every situation.

Riding on the success of forwarder and logistics networks, digitalization of these networks can be a progressive solution for the freight forwarding industry, especially for freight forwarders without the financial means to digitalise their operations.

Digital forwarder logistics networks can be a vehicle for such freight forwarders, their partners and customers to modernize their businesses and be part of the digital logistics revolution.

However,“there is clear processthat needs to be followed before a freight forwarder can claim modernization”, says Mick.

First, they must establish and adapt to modern design standards for their public website that supports new, emerging protocols, hardware, new applications, and a digital gateway to their partners and customers.

The new modernized website should also provide practical and enhanced user experience from the
point of logging in, to creating RFQs, booking or tracking a shipment.

Second, they must understand the capabilities of the digital solution or solutions required to be deployed. The primary goals the freight forwarders want to set are the ability of digitally connecting customers, partners,and other systems.

Moreover, they want to make sure that the technology centralizes the entire operation and more importantly enables automation wherever and whenever it is possible.

Third and most importantly “Amindset shift is required” For decades, freight forwarders have communicated largely by email and have depended on spreadsheets, PDFs, scanning, printing, faxing and wasting valuable resources and time, to quote and produce documents.

We now live in an era of API connectivity, where in documents, information and data can be produced and shared by connecting systems and downloads can be made available to users and other systems in seconds – no scanning, no printing, no emailing.

By thinking of it as ‘complex’ or ‘overwhelming’, most forwarders seem to be over analysing digital modernization.

In fact, most forwarders often don’t realize that by selecting the right technology and partnering with the right technology provider they may be just one click away from becoming a Digital Freight Forwarder themselves and giving their business a much-needed digital boost.

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