Freight forwarding is deeply complex. For SME forwarding companies, competing for higher profit margins only adds to this complexity. Lowering prices may suit your customers but isn’t it edging you towards loss-making?
In the recent past, a typical international freight movement involved over 10 parties, each with its system and processes. Today, that number is down by much. But you get the idea of the length and depth of effective collaboration between all parties.
If I narrow down to the crux of today’s freight forwarder’s problem, we arrive at:
- run my business most efficiently
- constantly achieve healthy profit margins
- provide the best customer experience
It closely translates into three dimensions: business efficiency, profitability and customer service. Automation using technology is an enabler for companies that want to be winners in each of these business segments. It is common to picture “automation in freight” as self-driven vehicles or robots running tasks in warehouses, ports and ships or flying drone deliveries.
Automation enters into the veins of your company processes and optimizes resources so you can generate more profitable shipments.
How does automation transform your business into a competitive differentiator? With reduced data entry and eventual accuracy gain, you can go paperless for faster shipment processing. Introduce real-time data access for seamless collaboration and keep all parties on the same page. Let’s understand more about how you can reinforce your forwarding business with automation.
Establishing effortless collaboration
As a growing forwarder, you know the benefit of timely information. Imagine the task of booking the transport once the shipment is confirmed. The manual process would mean a phone call or email from the accounts made to the transport department. This practice is just not only ineffective but error-prone. Automation changes that. Every time a shipment is confirmed by the sales team, the accounts and transport teams are auto-notified by the system.
The goal is to work together to send shipments on time. Automation incorporates setting up escalations that can be triggered in case of any milestone miss. With a visible workflow, all parties can monitor and take immediate action during exceptions.
Prioritizing your customers’ needs
Today, customers are in-charge. Not just do they decide which forwarder they wish to work with, but also make their demands clear. For instance, customers want to know if their cargo has been tampered with or if there is going a delay. Automation can combine Internet of Things (IoT) with various sensors to let customers know about delays and any unnatural incidents. Bringing transparency to customers increases their trust in your company.
Maximizing your investment with financial control
Credit is rampant in the freight forwarding industry. If not kept under view and control could spiral out of hand and hurt your profitability. Unless you are completely aware of
- charges you paid
- payments to be received
- your dues towards your vendors
you are on the verge of financial instability. How can automation step in and prevent this? Simple workflow measures like recording every transaction irrespective of the mode or setting credit limits help keep your entire finances in view.
Create a well-connected network that fosters growth
Every entity involved in the forwarding process must be able to collaborate digitally. Technology when integrated with automation empowers companies to easily collaborate even with multi-location teams. When your team can process shipments faster and with complete accuracy, the biggest benefit is received by your customers. With your customers’ gain, your business wins the confidence of your stakeholders and subsequently improved profitability. Future leaders understand – you win when everyone wins!
Originally Published in Portcalls Asia Magazine