How Is Digital Freight Forwarding Transforming the Industry?
The freight industry has been forced to evolve, particularly as consumer spending habits have shifted in recent decades. Thanks to the internet, people can buy things from across the world and receive them quickly. That’s even more likely to happen with the use of digital freight forwarding platforms from industry professionals. Learn more about what digital freight forwarding is and how it has impacted the industry so far.
What Is Digital Freight Forwarding?
Digital freight forwarding involves using apps, databases, web platforms and similar tools to facilitate the movement, import and export of clients’ goods. It can include tracking shipments, improving communications between relevant parties, maintaining a paperless system for signing and keeping documents, coordinating steps and services between companies and more.
This method brings numerous advantages, including more efficient, highly accurate shipments. Those outcomes can help companies increase competitiveness and react more decisively to challenging circumstances.
However, it takes time and money to implement digital freight forwarding well. That’s why this approach is becoming more widespread but still hasn’t been adopted by all companies in the industry. Plus, people need time to adapt to most changes, so decision-makers may not see the expected benefits immediately. Those realities aside, digital freight forwarding makes good business sense for many of the organizations utilizing it.
What is digital freight forwarding in a long-term sense? Many experts see it as the future and something decision-makers must pursue to keep up with peers.
Promoting Better Productivity
Freight forwarders have detail-oriented jobs and they frequently deal with factors that are not wholly within their control. That reality requires these professionals to be excellent problem-solvers and remain flexible in uncertain situations. However, using a digital freight forwarding platform can reduce the number of issues cropping up in a given day.
A 2023 survey found that focusing on digitalizing specific processes could have notable benefits. The best outcomes came when people used online marketplaces to source partners and equipment, live chat features to negotiate terms and conditions and container-tracking features to get live estimated arrival times. Together, those resources allowed people to save four working days per month or more than eight hours every week.
Another takeaway was that online marketplaces allow freight forwarders to find partners in only 5-10 minutes. That means they save 170 minutes per new partner compared to those not using digital tools.
Manual payments represent significant time spent, too. A third of people responding to the survey said each transaction takes approximately 10 minutes. Another 20% of those polled expressed frustrations while following up with people regarding manual payments. However, digital tools can speed up all aspects of the process, whether finalizing a transaction or providing an easily accessible record of everything that has happened.
What is digital freight forwarding doing for companies’ employment needs? When organizations use modern platforms well, they may find they can complete the same duties with fewer people. That’s especially helpful when the workload ramps up and a company cannot feasibly hire more team members right away.
Offering Better Visibility
A digital freight forwarding platform also makes it easier for people to see precisely where individual shipments are within the supply chain. Such insights give freight leaders more confidence because they can provide customers with the service they want and expect.
In one case, a partnership between FourKites and Spotos brought predicted estimated arrival times and real-time location information to European customers. Since the content spanned shipments on the move or once they reached a stop, clients could get the details throughout the whole transit route.
The platform also includes temperature-tracking data for perishable goods, such as medicines and produce. When people can get assurances that those products will arrive safely at their destinations in sellable condition, they’ll protect the bottom line and avoid preventable waste.
When someone achieves improved visibility by using a digital freight forwarding platform, they can also prevent issues like fraud that could otherwise derail their business if undetected. Scammers pull off one of the most common forms of freight fraud by posing as legitimate entities. In other cases, they target specific professionals and pretend to be them, often taking over their phone lines and email addresses to do so. These criminals typically disappear as soon as they secure payment from victims.
No single technology can prevent fraud. However, some can go a long way in thwarting it. For example, freight forwarders are working with technology companies to build blockchain tools. Those products provide an unalterable record of items and everyone associated with them. Brands dealing with luxury or in-demand offerings also use the blockchain to prove a product’s authenticity.
Professionals in this industry must think on their feet and track numerous trends to keep their businesses successful. The great thing about using a freight forwarding platform is that it helps people stay organized and responsive by giving them the reliable information they need.
For example, staying on top of changes in freight forwarding indexes helps people understand how much it may cost to ship or buy specific goods. Labor disputes and inclement weather are two of the many factors that have caused recent pricing shifts. However, when people have real-time tools to track those changes, they’ll know the right times to find shipping partners and get goods moving.
The digital documentation provided by many modern tools is also a significant money-saver. Estimates suggest electronic bills of lading could cause a $6.5 billion reduction in direct costs while facilitating up to $40 billion in global trade. Despite those benefits, many companies still use paper-based recordkeeping. That’s problematic for many reasons, including the fact that paperwork could get lost or damaged.
What is digital freight forwarding doing to support better communications? Today’s platforms allow people to see a shipment’s real-time location through dedicated apps. Then, there’s no need to spend time writing an email or waiting on hold during a phone call to get the latest details.
A new digital offering from DHL allows customers to only receive alerts about the events most important to them. They can also get those notifications as a daily digest rather than in real time. These options mean it’s easier for people to get the necessary information without getting distracted. They’ll streamline their operations as a result.
Using a Digital Freight Forwarding Platform Is Good for Business
There are many reasons why people should strongly consider adopting a digital freight forwarding platform sooner than later. Doing so can help them get accurate information about shipments while avoiding slowdowns, cost increases and other unwanted events.