This article is about providing some tough love for many of the freight forwarders out there – you’ll know who we’re talking about after you read this.
In order to provide a seamless shipping experience for customers, freight forwarders need to be using the latest available logistics technology. We’re in an age of digital transformation, yet the freight forwarding industry’s hesitation in accepting this reality has become one of its biggest obstacles. While much of the world embrace advanced technologies like self-driving cars and Artificial Intelligence (AI), some forwarding companies are still stuck using outdated TMS platforms, or worse yet, manually recording every transaction in a spreadsheet.
It’s not fair to say the industry is completely in the Dark Ages because it’s necessary to recognize the role freight forwarders have played in enabling progress like the rapid acceleration of global e-commerce. Without the flexibility and efficiency logistics service providers have contributed to supply chains in recent years, online retail wouldn’t be where it’s at today. That being said, it’s equally important for forwarders to understand why the industry gets criticized for its refusal to get with the times.
Technology Is Not Just a Trend; It’s a Necessity
The pressure placed on freight forwarders to capitalize on new forms of automation is rising. As competition continues to heighten, progressive forwarders are left scrambling to identify the technology that will give them the innovative customer experience they need to effectively differentiate themselves as market leaders. Technology that improves a forwarder’s customer experience is the most direct way to offer more than the competition. Without technology creating a better experience for customers, however, a provider is inevitably stuck competing on price — which is never a good thing.
More importantly, it’s shippers that are driving this trend of expecting more technology from their forwarding partners. From many shippers’ perspectives, great technology is table stakes to even be in the game. Every company involved in the global supply chain is affected by the advancements of modern technology. It’s up to forwarders if they want to keep up or be left behind.
Shippers are waking up to how much better new technology is at facilitating faster, more efficient cross-border shipping and trade compared to the ‘old’ way of doing things. Despite a generally negative perception of the industry, some forwarders were able to see the benefits of technology long before the disruption of digitization forced them into it. Marketplace leaders like GAMA have been pushing for real-time shipment visibility, supply chain flexibility, and data automation before it was trendy.
It’s time for the rest of the industry to catch up and invest in the self-service platforms that will give them and their customers instant access to reliable rates and shipment documentation with the click of a button. Your employees should be focusing on what matters rather than wasting their time sweating the small stuff. Online booking and freight management are no longer luxuries — they’re expectations. The sooner forwarders embrace that, the easier their lives will become, and the profits will be quick to follow.