Freight forwarders have long operated in data isolation, maintaining a veil of secrecy with supply chain partners. But companies that do so are denying themselves the benefits of building a single, efficient global data flow. With today’s technologies, trusted partnerships can be achieved while keeping confidential commercial information securely segregated.
Let’s start by stripping away the mythology. Everyone likes to think that no one else knows who their customers are and that they can prevent anyone from finding out. But realistically, consignee names are plastered all over bills of lading and other documents that are passed down the line. Your secrets are not really very secret.
Freight forwarders are operating in the most networked industry in the world. You can’t stand alone, even if you’re an independent freight forwarder. There are many parties that contribute to full service delivery along the supply chain.
By working together, rather than jealously keeping your own data to yourself, very real efficiencies can be achieved. A global network of independent freight forwarders doesn’t have to be a contradictory phrase.
With today’s cloud-based logistics applications, accurate and secure data can be passed like a baton. Automated electronic transfers bring you speed like never before, and being able to view every step of a consignment’s process with a single click brings you far reaching visibility.
Deploying accelerated data exchange can dramatically reduce freight movers’ shipment processing time. This can be achieved when your system automatically populates incoming data and you only need to add the details of your actions. Customers can even provide the initial request from their system, which then flows directly into yours, moving data confidentially and automatically through your supply chain. New information is added at every step rather than re-keyed from scratch.
When the exporting agent sends data as routed cargo, then the charging structure can easily be included as collectible. Access rights safeguard commercial aspects. Data may not be so secret, but it can certainly be confidential.
Just imagine how this process could vastly decrease the amount of data re-entry in your organization. With vast reductions in operational costs and time, your business can be open to greater opportunity. Your skilled staff can spend time properly servicing current customers or casting the net wider to find new clients or service specializations.
Independent freight forwarders are independent for a reason. When you’re about relationships first, you can provide the personal touch that a segment of the marketplace is looking for. No matter what, though, customers will expect their boutique service providers to have the same capabilities as the large global forwarders.
With the current subscription-based software offerings, you can have automated data transfer flows for the international movement of manifests – commercially secure under specific access rights – that allow you to act like a big company while remaining small. You win with significant productivity gains while maintaining your competitive edge in your local specialization.
Martin Lee is business development executive for WiseTech Global, a developer of cloud-based software solutions for international and domestic logistics headquartered in Sydney, Australia.