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:
- 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.
- Integrate your freight forwarding management platform with carrier platforms.
- Use APIs to automate quoting processes.
- Advise clients to request freight forwarding quotes through your digital platform.
- 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.
- Automate the booking process after rating, putting clients in control.
- 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.