August 17, 2020

What’s are Digital Freight Forwarders & What Are the Advantages of Running Digital?

Miles Varghese
Miles Varghese
Helping independent freight forwarders/brokers better stay in-sync, collaborate, and improve operations with their shippers/clients. Co-founder & CEO @

Modern supply chains rely on digital capabilities and connected systems. However, not all systems are created equal. The right system can augment your operation and streamline bookings. Meanwhile, the wrong system only adds headache and stress in trying to use a proclaimed “digital freight forwarders” solution that simply adds clicks and wastes time. 

There are exceptions to this rule from time to time – and those exceptions should align with your vision on customer experience.  This means having honest conversations with your vendors with regard to how you want to treat your customers.  Viewing the solution from that lens will yield stronger results.  The user experience and where the solution is heading strategically are also key to consider.

But in simplest terms, modern freight forwarders need to choose the right software provider, considering what a digital system should do, how it must rise above the archaic methods of freight management, and the actual advantages powered by world-class platforms. 

Why Are More Forwarders Looking for Digital Service Capabilities

The digital transformation of everything in the supply chain drives much interest in functions for digital freight forwarders. As companies learned of how platforms could be used through software-as-a-service (SaaS) models, the ability to leverage SaaS became its competitive advantage.

Saying that you deliver the great customer services just doesn’t cut it anymore.  You need to complement that mentality with technology that your clients will actually enjoy using.  We’re talking fantastic user experiences and your clients telling their friends about how the solution is “exactly what they needed.” 

The demand for faster, more reliable, and more affordable forwarding services and technology has kicked off a unique trend,  a “platformization” of the industry. 

As Deloitte reported, “given this fundamental dis-intermediation potential in freight forwarding, the stakes are high for the industry. The transportation market is a backbone to a globalized world economy but with margins often highly volatile and under pressure. When it comes to the sub-segment of freight forwarding, market growth of 8% can be observed. There is a continuous demand for low-cost shipping (given the rise of e-commerce across the globe), still high demand for integrated services, and an increasing trend of intermodal freight transportation.”

Defining Capabilities of Digital Freight Forwarders based on Your Customers

To find a tremendously successful platform for digital freight forwarders lies in defining a few key characteristics. This almost always should start with assessing your clients’ needs and how you want to take care of them.  

Some of thes core functions include automated freight quoting and seamless booking capabilities. Others perhaps a communication feature, or a free customer portal. It all depends on your own customers’ needs, and that should flow up into your own operations.  There should never be a “trade-off,” between having everything and choosing another system that may not have everything you need, but fulfills your clients’ needs. Put their needs above yours, and you generally will find success.

Think about it. When was the last time that you purchased a desktop computer for personal use that cost more than, say, US $5K.  It’s not often. Just because it has the fastest processor, a crazy graphics card, an amazing screen, doesn’t mean that it’s what you need. 

Features are never the answer in this context – your customers and how you respond to them is the real answer.

It’s a fine balance to navigate the shipper’s world as well as yours with regard to business operations.  You need to make sure you cover essential functions in a digital forwarding software. Some of those include automated rating and quoting process. Next, digital features must ensure the freight is adequately scheduled, picked up, and settled for payment. It’s quite simple, but if you have any questions just ping our team and we’ll be happy to give you our perspective, even if you’re absolutely not considering Cargologik. 

Advantages of Digital Forwarding

The advantages of software for digital freight forwarders are clear and include:

  • Alignment to core group of shipper customer’s needs. The starting point is your CLIENT’S success – not your own.  These digital solutions and features need to help you engage new and existing customers around what’s important to them. Your own internal needs should be second as often they may contradict your clients’ interests.
  • Faster quoting process. Less time spent managing each quote leads to lower costs associated with each quote. Perhaps full automation of quoting isn’t what you need immediately. Perhaps there are secondary steps that can be take to speed up that process, such as the standardization of forms and fields.
  • Integration capability with APIs to eliminate manual quotes. Utilizing application programming interfaces (APIs) to streamline quoting processes and connect to shipper, carrier, broker, or LSP systems allows for immediate access to total forwarding costs. In turn, users are more likely to book a shipment with your company. 
  • Options to include robotics process automation (RPA) to handle manual requests for quotes. Even with the advancements of digital freight forwarders’ capabilities, some companies may still engage in traditional emails to obtain quotes. In these instances, digital software should leverage RPA, a chatbot of sorts, to complete the process without requiring a staff member to intervene. “Go to where the customer is,” is the motto – but if that’s too costly, then there are plenty of other half measures that can be taken such as a digital solution that emulates some of those existing behaviors.
  • Centralized data storage to maintain compliance with all requirements. Centralized data storage and sharing eliminates the risk of missed pickups or delays. As a result, customer service levels increase, building on the premise of more accountability within your network, and still adding value. You should have gone paperless by now, and if not, seek systems that can serve as a system of record. It allows for quicker auditing,  issue resolution, and prompter payment.
  • Opportunities to connect analytics to understand freight forwarding costs. The rise of SaaS platforms affords another opportunity to improve supply chain functions as a forwarder. Since everyone is using new systems and services to manage freight, a massive volume of data can be run through advanced analytics engines to create freight forecasts better, manage changes in demand, and more. As a result, companies enjoy better and efficient collaboration with carriers and LSPs. Think global dashboards, operational statistics, and cost analytics.

Grow Your Freight Forwarding Business With a Digital, Platform-Based Management Strategy Now

A modern freight forwarding business needs a winning SaaS platform that utilizes connectivity technologies and streamlines the quoting, booking, and settlement processes. It’s that simple. Unlock the path to more efficiency, more bookings, and better customer service by signing up and test driving Cargologik free online

To get the most out of our platform, book your free, personalized training call with our Success Team

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