Under the advent of a digital revolution across all industries, the freight forwarding industry hasn’t been left behind. Digitization is disrupting the traditional ways of doing business, and it is imperative that forwarding also adapts to this wave of change if they want to stay competitive. On the other hand, freight forwarding is not only about technology.
In the last few years, digital freight forwarders and marketplaces have accumulated millions of dollars in funding and built fancy technological platforms to acquire beneficial cargo owners and have gained a significant advantage. Nevertheless, a digital freight forwarder might be ahead of the competition when it comes to technology – but what about the rest? Generally speaking, there are three areas freight forwarders need to be good at besides technological capabilities: customer care, know-how, and networking.
Of course, automation, standardization, and digitalization bring benefits, but what happens at the moment something goes wrong with a shipment? In that case, people revert to most analog technologies, speaking to another human (at least on the phone). There isn’t a logistics professional that wants to rely on a website when their export submission got rejected or something else “non-standard” happened. Most people prefer to talk to a logistics expert, someone who knows what to do in import/export and what the situation is – excellent customer service.
As of now, most digital freight forwarders can only offer a one-size-fits-all model. They should invest in value-added services such as purchase order management, buyer’s consolidation, or transload, where there is a physical plant and know-how is required. So, digital freight forwarders need to invest in smart people with logistics knowledge. The moment the supply chain becomes more complex and shippers want services such as inland movements, need licenses or access to capacity and warehouses, a dedicated expert team and knowledge is a huge advantage.
A global network
Digital freight forwarders haven’t been around for long and therefore, cannot open offices in every key market. As a result, they have to work with local agents. Most customers in the logistics space prefer to work with forwarders that have a global network – they want a partner who really can help if something goes wrong at a port on the other side of the world.
The question is: will digital freight forwarders build up their knowledge quicker than traditional freight forwarders build up their digital platforms?
EXIMA provides traditional forwarders a digital platform to network and build connections with other participants in international trade. Find out more about our online Export Import Association!