Freight Forwarding

Cargologik Named in Recent Freight Forwarding Technology Infographic

Every industry on the planet is working with the goal of digitalization in mind, and the freight forwarding industry is rapidly changing to reflect that mission. 

In a recent infographic, created by the staff at the Journal of Commerce (JOC), the various forms of digital capabilities among forwarders were broken into industry leaders and forms of technology. While an argument exists for each form of technology highlighted, the rise of digital platforms for forwarders is more noteworthy, and the JOC staff chose Cargologik as among the top leaders for that category! We told our moms right away, but really wanted to get the word out to the world at large.

But thinking a bit more about our shout out, it makes us wonder: what about the other categories, and what is Cargologik doing differently? 

Let’s answer those questions by looking at freight forwarding tech and:

  1. Its business improvement capabilities
  2. Primary forms of technology and service providers across the globe
  3. + How Cargologik is transforming digital forwarding once and for all

What Does Freight Forwarding Technology Mean in Today’s World?

Freight forwarding technologies include a wide range of digital capabilities that help forwarders either manage workflows, automate processes, or enable more efficient and speedy processing. 

Pandemics aside, freight forwarders are still essential in a world faced with continuing digital transformation, modern freight forwarding capabilities, and delivering a critical piece of service that in-turn helps their own Clients succeed.  This means going beyond the traditional, yet redundant, email/text/call to book standards. Yes, one might argue that those established methods are a digital aspect of freight forwarding, but it is far too inefficient and prevents independent forwarders from working on their business, versus. in their business. 

We like to refer to this as the “hamster-wheel effect,” where established forwarders and brokers are far too busy trying to win new customers, retain old ones, while also staying competitive in such a rapidly advancing and quickly evolving digital world. This is the true power of most FF tech.

Defining the Dominant Forms of Freight Forwarding Technology

The freight forwarding industry comprises five core forms of digital technologies, including:

  • Marketplaces that provide a way for forwarders and shippers to connect, comparable to load-matching services in OTR trucking.
  • Digital platforms for forwarders that create automated processes for small and mid-sized freight forwarders by giving them the resources to accommodate shipper quotes of all sizes, secure faster bookings and streamline processing.
  • Rate management software providers that serve provide quick rate indices and help companies maintain compliance with contractual obligations. 
  • Digital freight forwarders that give shippers the ability to login and perform freight forwarding services themselves—eliminating the intermediary.
  • Incumbent forwarders with instant quoting processes that work for some shipments and leave others unavailable.

Additional Aspects of Freight Forwarding Technologies Transforming Shipping

Even with the best technologies in place, there’s inevitably and almost always a degree of uncertainty. Controlling those known-unknowns becomes critical and these platforms serve a core role in helping organizations better manage and control variables.

These supply chain players become exceptional when their offerings transcend the five buckets of technology, and provide these core characteristics:

  • Collaborative IT infrastructure that shares data and reduces barriers to integration.
  • SaaS-based systems that let smaller freight forwarders compete with the biggest names in the industry.
  • Multi-tenant architecture that connects supplies chains from end-to-end and beyond your four walls.
  • Easy to Deploy systems that leveraged advanced connecting capabilities, including EDI and API.
  • Improved visibility through real-time data that also supports management by exception. 
  • Using systems to handle all forwarding functions and grow businesses with less risk.

At this point, the role of freight forwarding technology merges with company values, allowing previously limited marketplaces to suddenly connect with more forwarders and brokers, quickly. 

It often provides companies the ability to manage multiple bookings and contracted forwarding rates from a single freight forwarding platform. For example, Cargologik can transform outdated freight forwarding businesses into whole digital freight forwarders – providing a brand new digital experience for your team and your customers in just a few minutes after registration.  

The whole process grows in value and effectively breaks companies into two categories:

  1. those that provide a resource for forwarders and brokers to thrive, and 
  2. those that wish to eliminate the need to contact a freight forwarder in the first place. 

Become the Freight Forwarder of Choice With Cargologik

Take a moment to think about this. What do marketplaces, rate management software providers, digital freight forwarders, and somewhat instant quoting capabilities all need? 

A tool to support their digital freight forwarding efforts is the answer.  Our recognition by JOC among the other five sole providers in this infographic, shows that we are clearly on track to become the digital platform for companies that wish to achieve “loyal customer” status and embrace digital freight forwarding and brokerage at last. 

Learn more about how Cargologik is making freight forwarding easier for all companies with an industry-leading platform by signing up online right now. And, be sure to check out some of the other big names that Cargologik rose above as listed in the below-republished infographic.

(Footnote: We love Eric Johnson’s modern and relevant approach to tech coverage at JOC.) Image via JOC.com.

How Freight Collaboration Solutions Can Impact Your Small to Medium Forwarding Business

Collaboration in freight forwarding represents a significant opportunity to reduce costs and help small and mid-sized forwarding businesses grow. Unfortunately, the state of the market remains uncertain and the natural reaction is to retreat and focus only on core business. This is not always the case, especially in uncertain environments such as the ones they are dealing with today.

And often with that uncertainty, there are the players who succeed and those that do not. Small to medium-sized forwarding businesses ought to understand the real challenges they face and why freight forwarding collaborative infrastructure and system is essential to success – both now and into the future.

Challenges Faced in the Small to Medium Forwarding Business

The freight forwarding industry also generally faces more volatility and uncertainty than most forms of shipping and logistics. The biggest challenges affecting forwarders include:

  • The rising costs of freight forwarding. 
  • Bunker fluctuations and surcharges. 
  • Seasonality of freight forwarding. 
  • Fees and service charges are billed after the fact. 
  • Limited container capacity and blank sailings. 
  • Economic shortages and failings.

Unfortunately, these problems are exacerbated when freight forwarders try to handle operations manually and work through bookings with email, text messages, and spreadsheets.  Yes, in today’s age, email is the new form of snail-mail –  and leads to higher costs and fewer bookings. 

However, freight collaboration solutions hold the answer. 

Freight Collaboration Solutions Make Everything Easier

Freight collaboration solutions allow freight forwarders to work from both within a single supply chain and with other freight forwarders to keep costs under control. 

As explained by the Logistics Bureau, collaboration entails “upstream and downstream,” which means that within a single supply chain and “horizontal [collaboration], in which two enterprises with the same logistical role or requirement work together. 

For instance, two manufacturers pool their purchasing to buy more services more cost-efficiently from the same logistics provider. Two freight forwarders might work together to achieve better geographical coverage by combining their two fleets and driver work-forces. Vertical and horizontal collaboration can also be mixed, as in business agreements between multiple shippers and carriers to reduce the overall movement of empty trucks and blanked sailings.”

Tips for Deploying Freight Collaboration Solutions to Save Time and Resources

The best way to deploy freight collaboration solutions lies within an end-to-end, connected platform, that delivers value to both the forwarder and their customers.

Instead of simply working with one or two carriers, see all carriers from a single digital resource that actively seeks out and finds possible new business relationships. This includes new opportunities to secure more shippers, gain visibility into processes, reduce communication clutter, and keep a proactive track of where goods are in transit at any time. 

As explained in a prior post on digital transformation tips, digitized capabilities also have a natural implication for improved accounting, reduced stress in quoting and securing bookings, tracking accessorials to help keep clients’ costs under control, and more. 

In fact, small and medium forwarding businesses ought to take these additional steps now:

  1. Know what your shippers want and need, using analytics to reduce lost opportunities. 
  2. Creating a user website that allows your clients to easily access and review information, pay invoices, and more. 
  3. Connecting with shipper platforms to reduce the need for multiple logins and hassle in quoting rates. 
  4. Using high-value marketing to share information regarding rates and indices seamlessly with your clients and encourage more bookings. 
  5. Simplify the freight forwarding booking process to reduce the time lost by clients. 

Become a Stand-Out Forwarder With the Right Freight Collaboration Solutions’ Partner

Digital transformation is the new kid on the block in the freight forwarding industry. 

As reported by Carlos Nicolas Fernandes via JOC.com, digital freight forwarding uses freight collaboration solutions to “adapt to the new world and resolve the innovator’s dilemma is by spinning off a smaller, separate organization that doesn’t have the burden of legacy systems, people, and processes and is able to put the customer above all else. Perhaps most importantly, they can operate autonomously. This new organization doesn’t need to worry about how their success might frustrate another department — they aren’t bound by juggling a bunch of unwieldy trade-offs. Instead, they report to one master — the market and the customers within it. Once the spin-off has reached critical mass, it can either continue to operate independently or be rolled back into the larger organization and seed a mindset transformation that permeates the parent company.” 

Explore the way a digital collaborative forwarding resource can help by requesting Cargologik Beta-Access online today. 

Tips on How to Improve Freight Forwarding Business

All freight management companies continuously look for a way to improve profitability and safeguard against uncertainty. The only certainty in the market is uncertainty, and for freight forwarders, now is the time to find out how to improve freight forwarding business without a high investment cost. 

Meanwhile, new influences continue to affect the state of global trade, and companies need a viable, digital solution. According to Jason Shuttleworth of Forbes

“Technology continues its dramatic march toward the future. Politics change and shape globalization. International relations directly affect currency, economy, trading regulations, charges and access to product internationally daily. Our social and environmental awareness and communication needs to shift.” 

To maximize value and avoid unnecessary expenses, freight forwarders should follow these tips.

1. Stay Informed of Trade Policies and Societal Trends

Policies change frequently, and the standards for trade and customs’ costs can change on a dime. Freight forwarders must stay apprised of changes to global and domestic trade policies, as well as societal trends. Society is the engine that drives purchasing, so forwarders must respond appropriately to find out how to improve freight forwarding business.

2. Leverage a Digital Freight Forwarding Communications Platform

A digital freight forwarding communications platform further eliminates the risk of miscommunication and provides centralized storage of information to better manage freight. Furthermore, central communications offer the ability to connect with more potential shipments and work with more carriers to move freight more efficiently and quickly. 

3. Collect Data From Across All Carriers to Determine Current Rates at Any Time

Freight forwarders must also collect data from across all shipments. Obviously, carriers will not part with their internal insights, but if forwarders can leverage a single pane of glass to understand trends among carriers and shippers, they can build a better mousetrap for freight management. 

4. Set Realistic Expectations for Delivery of Quotes to Customers

Customers expect speed, and it is imperative forwarders to set clear, realistic expectations for the delivery of quotes. The easiest way to achieve this goal lies in leveraging an API to rate all shipments across all modes and send such data back to customers to speed to process and secure more bookings. In addition, clear, concise information within a dedicated system will alleviate the concerns of customers that wish to know “where is my freight” and “when will it get here?” Answering those two queries with automated responses will resolve much of the manual tasks of customer service for freight forwarders after securing bookings.

5. Keep Things Simple for Your Customers

Today’s supply chains are incredibly long and complex. Customers value forward-looking companies that keep information and capabilities simple. User-intuitive dashboards and easy-to-submit quoting processes will help companies figure out how to improve freight forwarding business. 

6. Encourage Customers to Share Their Experiences Via Social Media

Another option for finding out how to improve freight forwarding business rests with connecting with customers via social media. Customers love the interaction, and engagement provides a venue for hashing the details of complaints and even using past customers as personal advertisers via word-of-mouth networking. It’s the ultimate way to win and secure more bookings, opening the doors to stronger revenue streams and avoiding risk. 

Follow the Tips to Finally Answer How to Improve to Improve Freight Forwarding Business in Your Organization

For forwarders struggling with the question of how to improve freight forwarding business, the path to success must begin with understanding your operations and using knowledge to make the best decisions possible. Fortunately, the industry experts have dedicated their careers to building a more successful and efficient way of improving operations. Digital freight forwarding platforms that leverage technology is the solution and forwarders must continuously improve operational efficiency by applying the tips as well. Find out how your organization can get started by sending your questions to info@cargologik.com or requesting Beta access today.

Freight Forwarder Trends: Top 5 Challenges Facing Small to Medium Forwarders Today

Freight forwarder trends track innovation and digitalization. While the freight forwarding industry moves toward digitalization, problems in management remain. These problems are the result of a not fully understanding how a modern freight forwarder still operates behind the scenes of a digital freight forwarding platform. 

Even if the customer completes the transaction automatically, the forwarder still plays a role, explains Supply Chain Dive:

“Yet the freight forwarding role doesn’t go away just by using an online platform. “You still have to have a freight forwarder doing the work behind the scenes, arranging the ocean freight, trucking, and customs clearance. The online software companies are the front end, the customer-facing software to make the process easier, but the freight forwarders are still in the background.”

To further illustrate the facts, consider the top five freight forwarder trends and challenges facing small to medium forwarders today.

1. Freight Forwarder Trends Include Higher Costs of Forwarding

The first of the top freight forwarder challenges to address surrounds the continuous increase of the costs of freight forwarding services in the global economy. As explained by Boss Magazine:

“The USD remains the primary measure of freight forwarding rates, and it affects the freight rates as they might change at any time. Not only the prices of the freight forwarding services are impacted, but it also affects the customers as the price of goods increases. Also, when expensive payment methods are used like bank transfers, they involve hefty fees that are added to the total expense.” 

Meanwhile, disruptions to economies of scale always trickle down back to the small and medium businesses, including freight forwarders. It is clear that independent forwarders need a way to control total spend without sacrificing service.

2. Container Capacity Remains a Problem

Another related issue is around container capacity. While the industry recovered from the capacity crunches of the last decade, new disruptions have come to light. Container capacity, while available, lacks available sailings, and even public policies threaten to limit available cargo transport between international borders. However, effective management of capacity through real-time monitoring and updating of freight forwarder trends and rates can help provide a hedge against failure.

3. Commoditization of Freight Forwarding Makes It Hard to Stand Apart From Other Forwarders

As companies around the globe turned to technology to improve freight management, freight forwarders have faced a tougher challenge in gaining and retaining customers. After all, what good is a forwarder if companies can do the process themselves? So, the only solution lies in working with forwarders that offer a better customer service experience and have the capabilities to back up technology with their people.

4. Unforeseen Disruptions to Trade Cause New Challenges

The fourth challenge is the risk of unforeseen disruptions. Some might argue all disruptions have warning signs, and it is up to the company to make the decision to protect assets against disruption. However, even with planning, sudden changes in public policy or other Acts of God may lead to limited resource availability and even the need to rethink workforce distribution. Again, small and medium forwarders must rely on technology to augment their capabilities and overcome disruptions in real-time.

5. Staffing Shortages and Retention Continue to Undermine Performance

Last, staffing shortages and retention of employees, or the lack thereof, undermine the performance and success of smaller forwarders. With the modern freight forwarder trends focused on technology and its use, it’s easy to think of people as the weakest link. 

Yet, technology can help forwarders augment operations to remote locations, avoiding the risk of employees spreading pathogens, not to mention lowering overhead costs along the way. Moreover, technology and supportive systems give small and medium forwarders the ability to rapidly augment staff and leverage instant quoting capabilities to gain more clients, avoid losses, and build value.

Overcome the Obstacles With a Platform That Addresses the Leading Issues in Freight Forwarder Trends

The technologies in question that embrace the top freight forwarder trends allow small and mid-sized forwarders to maintain scalability, unlock faster quoting, book more shipments, and achieve stronger profits. Of course, finding the right technology is another process, and building it in-house is troublesome and laden with risk. Instead, consider partnering with a proven forwarder platform vendor, such as Cargologik. 

Head over to our website to learn more and reach out team@cargologik.com to learn more.

Freight Forwarding Tools to Help Smaller Forwarders Win and Retain More Clients in 2020

Supply chain risks are continuously changing as a reflection of the global economy. As the economy shakes in response to global risks, freight forwarders run the risk of losing clients and failing to secure new clients. 

However, the use of industry-leading freight forwarding tools can help avoid the problem. Most supply chains want (and likely need) more technology and efficiency. This presents an opportunity for forwarders that are willing to put in the extra time and effort to leverage the right tools will see their client base grow. 

In this article, we’ll help you consider how these top tools achieve that goal through improved freight management.

A Simplified Communications Platform Boosts Collaboration

Collaboration requires companies to transform complex processes into a simplified, easy-to-reference process. 

According to Supply Chain Game Changer, “Collaboration between companies – [are] joint initiatives that go beyond their normal course of day-to-day business, with the aim of delivering significant improvement over the long term. With pricing under pressure from recession-scarred consumers, the temptation for retailers is to transfer the pain upstream to their suppliers by passing on price reductions and forcing them to bear an increasing share of costs.” 

Fortunately, procurement collaboration is now a standard with 65% of companies working to be more collaborative with suppliers and helps avoid miscommunication

Faster Quoting Through Comprehensive Shipment Information Entry Reduces Quoting Delays

In addition to improved speed in communication, using a modern freight forwarding platform, and leveraging APIs, firms can also speed up the quoting /booking process, and help avoid delays caused by the slow pace of email. This contributes to helping forwarders and brokers achieve lasting growth. These APIs can also help automate the communications process and even be deployed to share documents, enforce compliance through notifications, audit history, and more. 

The rationale is simple; new technologies are creating more competition among forwarders and boosting user experiences, says Mike King of American Shipper:

“The world’s leading forwarders have made huge advances in their online sales capabilities in the last year but face increasing competition from digital forwarders and container shipping lines, according to the latest secret survey by Freightos.

Of the world’s top 20 freight forwarders secretly assessed by the online marketplace, C.H. Robinson, Kuehne + Nagel, DHL, and DB Schenker stood out for prioritizing user experience and ease of use.”

Real-Time Freight Forwarding Tools Immediately Notify Customers of Exceptions and Reduce Resolution Time

The automated notification functions of collaboration freight forwarding tools also can help customers work through exceptions and managing disputes or questions. Yes, modern technologies allow for management by exception, but through the continuous advancement of artificial intelligence and robotics process automation, today’s forwarders can drive down overhead costs and let the computer do the work – minimizing impact and even possibly alerting you to issues before you know they’re an actual issue.

Multimodal Capabilities Help Your Customers Keep Freight Spend Under Control

Any conversation on managing freight spend and improving collaboration must touch on multimodal shipping capabilities. Since multimodal involves the movement of goods between modes within a single carrier, freight forwarding tools need to have access to carrier data and information. This is the only way to truly keep control over multimodal shipping, and that same function serves to increase visibility and keep customers’ prices lower too as a result.

Educational Content Provides Continuous Access to Trends and Best Practices That Future-Proof Your Business

Another factor to consider is education. Modern freight forwarding tools need to offer inclusive education to help staff and users gain the most benefit. After all, not everyone has the time to sift through an exhaustive program manual, and most would prefer to take advantage of real-world resources. 

Simple tools, such as recurring blog posts, advice on how to deploy freight forwarding APIs, and user-guided workflows break the barriers between education and understanding. As a result, your team is more empowered and able to help customers faster. The result is the same; your clients keep coming back. At the same time, your reputation grows, encouraging more new clients and benefiting your business in a positive cycle.

Tap the Value of Advanced Freight Forwarding Tools and a Dedicated Platform Now

Advanced freight forwarding tools streamline management and decrease risk through increased visibility. Shared data empowers independent forwarders and brokers to avoid risk and increase efficiency. Choosing the right tools loaded with these top freight forwarding tools will help your organization mitigate risks, avoid disruptions, and achieve strong growth. Questions? Comments? Positive or negative feedback? Send us your thoughts/inquiries regarding Cargologik by filling out the online contact form at the bottom of our homepage or email us directly at team@cargologik.com. And if you’re interested, please feel free to request access to our free Cargologik Private Beta too!

Freight Forwarder Best Practices: 10 Ways to Improve Customer Experience

Freight forwarding is rapidly undergoing a digital transformation. Unfortunately, the vertical in the global transportation economy has remained reluctant to embrace digital freight forwarding – failing to eliminate the many hassles of traditional, more manual processes. 

Even email, which once promoted a better experience for the shippers—your customers—that work with your company, is now inefficient. That is in conjunction with tons of, hard to locate quickly “nonstandard documents in circulation worldwide, not to mention customs requirements vary from country to country and product to product,” says Logistics Management

To maintain a positive customer experience, freight forwarders need to understand a few top freight forwarder best practices to deliver faster quotes, more accurate documentation, and improved service levels. 

1. Recognize Your Limits in Old, Antiquated Processes

The first step is to recognize the limits of your old systems and processes. Without evolving freight forwarding systems, freight forwarders cannot deliver on more volume and faster quoting. “The result is an antiquated customer experience for businesses moving goods across the globe.”

2. Hire the Right Team

Freight forwarders are only as good as their team members, and by hiring the right, experienced professionals, forwarders can ensure better customer service levels. As explained by AFILA, “for organizations that operate internationally, teams must understand how freight forwarding laws vary in each country and ensure adherence to the law. 

With so many unpredictable factors in play when it comes to moving freight, the right team will be creative, adaptable and capable of managing customer expectations when natural disasters or unforeseen delays strike.” Also, experienced professionals will naturally understand the need to be clear and concise in all freight communications

3. Leverage a Digital Freight Forwarding Platform

Digital freight forwarder best practices include the use of an advanced, automated digital freight forwarding platform. If your system is more than four years old or you’re still using traditional spreadsheets, disjointed communications channels, like email, or nothing at all, then it may be time to consider an upgrade. Ensure that any forwarding platform you use allows for unlimited scalability to continuously grow your forwarding business. 

4. Gain Visibility Into All Transactions

Increased visibility into all transactions, including all carrier relationships and quotes, will translate into better customer service. Remember that shippers value transparency, and in the height of various market forces, transparency and visibility are kings. It is a key foundation of trust.

5. Deploy APIs to Rate All Modes Instantaneously

Rating all modes for all shipments is an excellent way to increase customer service by guaranteeing your company has rated freight for all possible options to secure the best rate. Additionally, using an API transforms the process by putting the rating power in the hands of customers, if available, or also allowing your employees to immediately rate and respond to quote requests. Response time is critical.

6. Increase Use of Multi-Modal Shipping to Secure More Capacity and Available Rates

Multi-modal shipping must be a necessity for successful freight forwarder best practices. Multi-modal shipping allows for more value and rating options through more carriers, too. Having options allows for better redundancy and can help empower the customer in their own business.

7. Recognize How Disruption May Affect Operations in Advance 

Understanding disruption risks further augment customer service as part of the freight forwarder best practices by helping your company stay competitive and avoid unnecessary delays in shipping. 

8. Find Additional Spot Market Carriers

According to Supply Chain 24/7, additional spot market carriers provides a further protective effect against disruption and also promote stability throughout market volatility and customs’ concerns. 

“To streamline their customs clearance processes, topper-forming companies are leveraging customs brokers, freight forwarders and other third parties [to lower freight spend].” Thus, your company is in the perfect position to boost profitability and service levels in tandem. 

9. Aggregate Data and Apply Analytics to Understand Use of Digital Freight Forwarding Capabilities

Using data provides added benefits to understand freight forwarding best practice trends in your organization and how you can derive more value and service. Seek additional resources online or engage a data consultant to help you better understand applicable analytics.

10. Consider Use of Robotics Process Automation to Handle the “Email” Clients

Lastly, robotics process automation (RPA) capabilities, such as “Chatbots,” could leverage technology and software to automatically respond to customer inquiries, reply to emails, submit data for rating within API-connected freight forwarding platforms, and more. This rapidly developing technology can also allow you to automatically process emailed documents such as purchase orders, contracts, and other pdf documents.

Boost Customer Service Levels With the Digital freight forwarder best practices

Freight forwarder best practices give your company a chance to stay competitive, secure more shippers as clients, and build better customer service levels. 

Find out more about how your organization can take advantage of an advanced platform that aligns with these top best practices as we invite you and your team to join our Private Beta Group by clicking the Request Beta Access” button at the top of this page. 

Digital Freight Forwarding: Protecting Your Supply Chain From Coronavirus’ Effects

Digital freight forwarding helps shippers realize fewer headaches and improved operations through faster forwarding and scheduling. However, the use of digital supply chain management platforms in the global economy appears to be increasing as the coronavirus spreads around the world. 

As explained by the Wall Street Journal, experts expect the coronavirus to contribute to a massive slump in production abroad and in the U.S., with significant disruptions to carrier freight availability. While the spot market reaches a breaking point, it will rebound quickly as companies attempt to maintain baseline operations. In other words, the need to survive the outbreak and maintain operations will become paramount, and companies will rapidly raise rates, especially those that have a higher risk of spreading the virus. 

To keep prices under control, supply chain leaders need to understand the value of digital freight forwarding to mitigate disruption to the shipper’s supply chain as COVID-19continues to spread.  

The Latest Updates on the Coronavirus’ Effect on the Supply Chain 

According to the Harvard Business Review, the coronavirus is having a disastrous effect on global supply chains. The impact of the virus will attain peak levels in mid-March, and companies are quickly throttling or closing operations to reduce its spread. 

As the Chinese economy suffers, so too do the shippers and manufacturers that rely on raw materials and parts from the APAC region suffer. The most “vulnerable” companies are those which rely heavily or solely on factories in China for parts and materials. The activity of Chinese manufacturing plants has fallen in the past month and is expected to remain depressed for months. The Wall Street Journal also recently highlighted Apple’s woes in their marriage to Foxconn & their reliance “on a workforce of more than three million indirect workers in China.” They’re now investing in their Vietnam & India-based supply chains but it’s likely too little, too late.

The whole situation is reminiscent of the SARS epidemic, but the spread appears much worse. As the virus progresses, supply chain professionals of all sizes will be forced to enforce transparency initiatives, implement processes to circumvent traditional supply chain workflows and work closely with their customers to secure products or services. 

Digital Freight Forwarding Set to Become Central to Coronavirus Disruption Protection

Digital freight forwarding is a complex process that relies on algorithms and robotics process automation to streamline freight forwarding processes. Unlike traditional interactions, including the need to visit warehouses and speak with shippers on-site, digital solutions are well poised to overcome the heightened fears during the coronavirus outbreak. 

For instance, digital transformation within freight forwarding has the potential to reduce the risk of contamination by effectively allowing companies to avoid the risks of in-person meetings or at least drive those interactions downward. According to MarketWatch, “many of our booking partners prefer to use their own credentials to submit U.S. manifest filings and we permit them to do so,” the company said in emailed comments. “As a result, freight booked on our contracts and manifested by our partners does not appear in Panjiva, PIERS or ImportGenius as Flexport volume.”

Also, for example, the coronavirus is forcing a re-evaluation of existing processes and procedures used to execute supply chain functions without disruption during a disruptive event. As a result, companies that successfully deploy digital solutions and minimize contact with affected regions may realize these added benefits:

  • Reduced stress when faced with potential disruptions. 
  • Improved review of existing contingency plans. 
  • Increased supplier/carrier bases to overcome potential disruptions. 
  • Dual sourcing strategies that reduce product pricing. 
  • Increased use of analytics to understand the supply chain. 
  • Increased visibility that builds trust with supply chain partners and customers alike. 
  • Better disaster and emergency management planning will lead to preparedness for future events. 

Best Practices to Contain the Coronavirus in the Supply Chain 

Supply chain leaders should take these specific steps to quarantine the coronavirus in the supply chain and reduce its potential transmission:

Short term

  1. Identify key suppliers in areas affected by the lockdowns: Customers should start to analyze whether any of their critical suppliers,  distributors, or warehouses are located within one of the lockdown areas in Hubei Province or in one of the affected areas,  such as in Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu or Guangdong, and may be impacted by an extended production shutdown after the Lunar New Year.
  2. Secure alternative sources and increase inventory levels: Knowing the suppliers most exposed and vulnerable to the current situation can significantly reduce the response time needed to activate mitigation measures and leverage time as a competitive advantage when deciding to secure alternative sources from elsewhere in or outside of  China and increase inventory levels. Although countries like Vietnam or Taiwan also celebrate the Lunar New Year, production is not halted entirely or for as long as in mainland China.
  3. Educate internal staff and key suppliers: Organizations should educate their staff as well as their key suppliers about the symptoms of the virus and enforce precautionary measures such as taking sick leave if symptoms show. Lost productivity from the absence of several employees due to sick leave can be significantly less expensive than a possible downtime from closing an entire plant because of sick employees or from disinfecting the site.

Long term

  1. Monitor potentially disruptive supply chain risks: Use real-time supply chain risk monitoring tools to continuously keep abreast of further developments regarding the city lockdowns, government shutdowns of industrial areas as well as potential transportation disruptions and assess its impact on one’s own manufacturing and logistics networks.
  2. Be mindful of using dual-sourcing strategies for key components: Reducing the number of suppliers has become a norm to allow for more strategic relationships with a handful of key suppliers. However, given the expanding nature of supply chain risks, firms should consider undertaking a strategic cost-benefit analysis to assess if the added cost of sourcing from different geographical locations and alternative suppliers can be worthwhile to prevent future shutdowns. When possible, diversify the risk.
  3. Draft and test contingency plans for a supplier outage: Companies should create related contingency plans in case a plant is, for instance, quarantined because of the virus. In the long term, it is recommended to set up good business relationships with logistics providers or contract manufacturers that have the capability to transport or manufacture similar products in nearby regions or countries. Accounts from inside and outside of China point to a global economic disruption from the coronavirus, but experts have yet to determine how extensive it will be.

Plan for the Unexpected by Implementing Coronavirus Prevention and Mitigation Strategies in Your Supply Chain Now

While the coronavirus might be the most recent event to upend the global supply chain, it will certainly not be the last. Supply chain leaders need to take the considerations of the coronavirus and review the limitations of their existing operations and how the coronavirus served to highlight such inefficiencies or limitations. 

More importantly, supply chain leaders should also start thinking now about how to respond to the COVID-19, even if existing freight forwarding best practices are unaltered, as well as how future health epidemics could be contained within specific aspects of the supply chain. Visit Cargologik to learn about the value of digital freight forwarding and its importance in reducing such risks now.

5 Freight Forwarding Tips to Help Small to Medium Forwarders Survive 2020

Unfortunately, small and medium freight forwarders face a greater risk of demise in 2020. The demands for more volume, faster service, and lower costs continue to push forwarders to their limits. Freight forwarders run the risk of failure, and without the right practices in place, contribute to a higher cut-and-run rate among your shippers. 

Ineffective freight forwarders often lose track of shipments, allow roll-over of cargoes because their volumes moved with the shipping line are too low. This generally means that the negotiated freight rates are not in line with the actual market conditions. If a shipper sees these or similar mistakes from a forwarder, they are indications that it is time to switch to a new forwarder.

In this blog, Cargologik, a provider of freight forwarding management software, gives 5 tips for freight forwarders to thrive in 2020. 

1. Digitize Invoicing and Accounting Practices

The first step to success in the digital age is simple. Freight forwarders need to digitize their invoicing and accounting practices. Digitalization of freight quoting is the first step, and next, forwarders should look towards digitization of all operations and processes, especially invoicing. This can reduce the time it takes to capture payments from shippers, improve documentation compliance, and much more.

2. Give Shippers the Power of Choice

The best freight forwarding tips take advantage of the obvious and attempt to create a perception that the shippers are always in control. The irony is that with digital systems, such as APIs, freight forwarders can shift control over the process toward their customer and often more so on the shippers’ terms. Through integration, freight forwarders could reach new business-to-business clients around the globe, and they can even lessen the workload at the same time.

3. Track Accessorial Charges for Clients, Providing More Service Without Higher Costs

Another essential freight forwarding tip for success includes tracking of accessorial charges assessed by carriers, port authorities, logistics service providers, and other entities involved in transporting freight. It is easy to assume carriers will be honest and provide accurate quotes regarding shipment arrival, departure, and on-time arrivals, but guarantees may not necessarily hold up/ We all know that adverse events outside of our control, such as the weather, can impact the supply chain. The risk of added charges is not going away, and as explained by Shipping and Freight Resource

“Carriers often perform other services than just driving. They may have to load or unload the cargo, wrap some pallets, or make additional stops.

Such services are often not included in your cost estimate. Consequently, customers sometimes end up being surprised when they receive their invoices. For this reason, make sure you ask the company about all the extra fees you can expect.

Some of the most common unforeseen fees come from not understanding and not applying accessorial fees.”

By recognizing these charges and tracking them for shippers, freight forwarders can provide a vital service and further build rapport with shippers. 

4. Consider Loyalty Points and Discounts When Quoting With and Hiring Carriers 

Freight forwarding tips also include taking advantage of limited-access trade networks and discount programs when quoting freight and hiring carriers. Such programs are critical to keeping freight spend under control for shippers and staying competitive, especially in a tight capacity market. 

Take some time to get to know your shipping carrier and work on building a relationship. Remind your carrier how long you have been using their services and that you are a loyal customer. Once your carrier knows they have and can rely on more steady business, they are likely to offer better conditions.

Hence, rather than switching to a new carrier, develop a good relationship with your current one. You will be surprised how much you can save through a strategic, long-term relationship. All reliable companies will do their best to keep regular customers.

5. Consolidate Loads to Lower Shipping Costs and Improve Space Utilization

Finally, freight forwarders could apply their neutral position to consolidation loads and improve space utilization. Depending on the carrier, such additional measures may result in significant discounts. Moreover, carriers could use consolidation to build shipments of any size, and freight forwarders that embrace consolidation/deconsolidation can drive revenue at the same time maintain flexibility.

Apply These Freight Forwarding Tips, and Deploy Your Digital Freight Forwarding Processes

As the freight forwarding industry evolves to include more technology and faster processes, freight forwarders need a few tips to survive. 

Follow these simple freight forwarding tips, and invest in a digital freight forwarding solution now. Join our private beta queue to get early access to the Cargologik’s innovative freight forwarding management platform today to improve your freight forwarding processes and make it easier to implement the aforementioned tips to gain market share and increase revenue.

The State of the Freight Forwarding Industry

Any blog or online resource referencing logistics is incomplete without a strong emphasis on the need to understand the state of the industry today and what’s in the pipeline for the future. The same applies to freight forwarders and software vendors alike. The freight forwarding industry is also evolving rapidly, complicating things further. 

According to MarketWatch:

“Over the next five years the Ocean Freight Forwarding market will register a 7.2% CAGR in terms of revenue, the global market size will reach US$ 141300 million by 2024, from US$ 99800 million in 2019.”

The industry saw a less than 2% contraction in global freight forwarding by volume in 2019. However, those figures were tabulated before the peak shopping season, and updated statistics are not yet available. Regardless, let’s take a closer look at the state of the freight forwarding industry, including its stage of digital transformation, and what freight forwarders ought to know about it.

What’s Wrong With the State of the Freight Forwarding Industry?

The freight forwarding industry is rapidly changing in the wake of new technologies, explains Dan Gardner of JOC.com. Unfortunately, not all experts and leaders agree on how digitalization will affect the industry:

“Amidst supply chain technologies that include predictive analytics, drone deliveries, and warehouse robotics, it is the digital freight forwarder that has stimulated the lion’s share of debate between industry pundits. Whereas few people dispute the myriad applications for drones or robots, opinions on digital forwarders range from industry disruptor to tempest in a teacup.”

The nature of freight forwarders—not being cargo owners or operators of transportation means—leads to a perception that they cannot force any real change in the industry, says Crowley.com

While this may be true in some folks’ eyes, freight forwarders can tap new value for clients by securing better rates, working with more carriers, and even moving freight faster than individual shippers would have otherwise been able to. Failure to recognize the value of freight forwarders—particularly those working to embrace digitalization as the new standard—will lead to higher transport costs for individual shippers. Concurrently, investment in digital transformation appears on track to set new records with no signs of it stopping soon 

Freight Forwarding Continues to Undergo Digital Transformation

Freight forwarders can maintain profitability with traditional approaches to quoting, but business-to-business customers, including shippers, want faster, more affordable quotes. In the simplest terms, shippers want instant quoting that can integrate with their existing e-commerce platforms and fully automate the entire shipping process from the moment, and end-user clicks “checkout.” 

The requirement for faster, easy to integrate, and online solutions is partially responsible for the slight contractions within the freight forwarding industry in 2019. As explained by Research and Markets, the global freight forwarding market demonstrated a contraction of 1.4%. But such contraction does not necessarily indicate a shift away from freight forwarding. Instead, it alludes to the reluctance to embrace new technologies and capabilities. Forward-thinking freight forwarders will have the opportunity to scale operations and beat out their competitors with technology and ongoing digital transformation.

How to Leverage the State of the Industry to Achieve Growth as a Freight Forwarder

Freight forwarders can apply the lessons learned from 2019 and expectations for the coming year to expand profit margins significantly. A few best practices to leveraging this information and achieving growth include:

  • Know the state of the freight forwarding software market. Since freight forwarding as a digital service is a new concept, the number of freight forwarding management platform software vendors, like Cargologik, is relatively short and easy to review.
  • Emphasize your “digital investment” within marketing efforts” to attract more talent. Digital freight forwarders have a better record of attracting new, fresh talent than third-party logistics providers (3PL).
  • Go Digital. Use digital systems to secure more carrier contracts and guarantee more bookings. Response time remains critical within the quoting and booking process.
  • Leverage data. Data is the new oil. Use data gathered throughout digital operations and management resources to prove your operation continuously. If you don’t have “the data,” start introducing ways and tools for your team to start collecting it.

Learn How the Industry Will Affect Your Business & Get Proactive with Solutions

As freight forwarding continues to shift away from traditional, manual approaches to quoting, freight forwarders need to understand how the changing industry will affect their operations and what they can do about it.

Consider joining our private beta queue at Cargologik to test-drive our innovative platform for free. Our system empowers freight forwarders to take the digital leap, start collecting data, and improve customer loyalty.

Digital Freight Communications Management: Tips for Success

Digital freight communications management refers to the processes and channels in place to reduce the time spent managing the freight process when contacting shippers, carriers, or other logistics service providers and partners. 

Email is sufficient for communications for certain business functions, but email communications to manage freight gets tiresome when you get to the 27th email in one thread. It also doesn’t help to open your inbox and see 100+ new unread emails every day to catch up on.  Sadly, this dominating medium is an immense time and overhead killer. Even with push notifications on, email is still largely a manual process, and regularly results in lost time for freight forwarders and a clunky, poor customer experience for the shipper they work with. Dealing with emails is often a losing proposition in most businesses.

Compounding this communication challenge for the forwarder are other communication channels. There are endless phone calls, messages on platforms such as WhatsApp, Telegram, iMessage/SMS, Slack, Messenger, and in some cases,  even fax (yes people still fax!).  

In 2020, these disjointed communications have become the norm in the management of freight to finalize a shipment from dock to dock.  Maintaining the status quo is no longer sustainable for the independent forwarder and better options need to be sought. Freight forwarders need to understand why before taking necessary steps to improve their operations and business overall.

What Freight Forwarders Get Wrong About Freight Communications

Freight forwarders have endured many changes in the global supply chain. E-commerce, omnichannel supply chains, the blending of channels, the blending of guest experiences, and other factors all push freight forwarders to move freight faster, manage bookings, and fulfill their duties more cost-effectively. These demands emphasize the need for a strong digital freight communications management strategy – which is far too uncommon.

But still, forwarders often fall victim to the perception that traditional approaches to communication, such as email, phone calls, or fax are the only way to handle the complexity of freight forwarding. As explained by Supply Chain Dive:

“The freight forwarding industry has long been aware of potential disruption…however it’s a more complex industry than travel agencies, a commonly cited example of a field that successfully transitioned to digitization.

A consumer can book a flight from New York to Paris, but the only vendor involved is the airline. With freight forwarding, a company books a shipment from New York to Paris, but there are more parties involved, like a truck picking up the goods, ship or plane transport, customs declarations or duties, and delivery to the destination. “The whole process can be extremely complicated,” Ting said. With multiple vendors, it’s more difficult to automate the process in one software solution, plus each country has its own regulations.”

Digital Freight Communications Offer Big Benefits

Digital freight communications management is the new standard for freight forwarding efficiency and success and often are one of the key areas where changes can have an immediate impact. However, it is important to note digital freight communications management is not a simple email process-based task. Instead, true digital freight communications management and strategy means using digital technology to automate as much of the communications process as possible. As reported by BCG.com:

“Automating manual processes, [including communications] now could reduce certain back-office and operations costs by up to 40% while digitizing significant parts of the sales process could reduce related direct costs even more. And as the new business models gain traction over the long term, digital capabilities will open up tremendous opportunities to win in the marketplace.”

Key benefits of digital freight communications include:

  • Improved customer service. 
  • Less time handling manual requests.
  • Quoting all carriers and modes to secure better rates. 
  • Automated invoicing to reduce administrative costs. 
  • Increased accuracy and response time of quoting/booking.

Tips for Successful Digital Freight Communications

For freight forwarders that wish to improve digital freight communications, they should follow these tips for success:

  1. Require all staff to use digital communications tools, especially the use of an integrated freight communications platform as part of a freight forwarding management software platform, like Cargologik. 
  2. Integrate your freight forwarding management platform with carrier platforms. 
  3. Use APIs to automate quoting processes. 
  4. Advise clients to request freight forwarding quotes through your digital platform. 
  5. Manage by exception, contacting clients directly within the platform. When communications features, such as a “delivery update comment” on a specific shipment, is provided in your freight forwarding platform, it allows you to communicate around the shipment on which the exception occurred and better automate the typical back and forth communication and channels required to convey the critical information. This reduces the need and time to hunt down the other part, match a shipment reference number, or commit a costly error on which specific shipment the exception occurred. 
  6. Automate the booking process after rating, putting clients in control. 
  7. Stay forward-thinking, including considering the use of advanced technologies. When forwarders are using a digital freight forwarding platform to manage their customers and associated shipments, especially SaaS-based platforms, advanced technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, OCR, and the like are easier to embed as they arise in the future.

Empower Your Team With Digital Collaboration and Communication Resources

Digital freight communications resources and a robust strategy empower freight forwarders with data-driven interactions, promote engagement between forwarder and clients, and can integrate with other supply chain systems. The result is the same – freight forwarders realize the benefits of centralized supply chain execution and management, as well as direct and indirect cost savings. Visit CargoLogik online to join the private beta queue of innovative freight forwarding software now.