Updated: Sep 3, 2019
Freight forwarders have witnessed many important transformations through the years that have threatened their business and forced them to make changes. If you think about it, the freight forwarding industry has overcome it all, from successful routes that ceased to be profitable, to updated tedious custom clearance processes that took adjusting.
Today, yet another tsunami of talk and information is causing freight forwarders to stay alert. And that's not a bad thing. Forwarding agents are being called to keep up with the times and move towards digital transformation. It's time to do a self-check, review current processes, and start the transition from traditional freight forwarding to e-Forwarding.
What is digital forwarding or e-Forwarding?
Digital forwarding or e-Forwarding is an emerging concept that encompasses the digitalization of traditional operations and processes in the freight forwarding industry. With the support of new technologies, e-Forwarding allows for the automation and simplification of booking, quotes, and documentation in order to increase proactivity and efficiency in the business.
To put the current scenario into perspective, digital shipping lines are proposing to disintermediate the freight transport industry by connecting shippers directly with the carriers. This practice is putting a lot of pressure on freight forwarders who are still using traditional methods for selling and operating.
Similarly, the rise of marketplaces is setting freight forwarders in a price war, where they are forced to lower prices and reduce their margins to get business, which unfortunately contributes to the commoditization of the industry.
e-Forwarding aims to be a substantial factor in harnessing freight forwarders against unfair competition and practices and helping the industry to move with the times.
The digital-savvy freight forwarder
With digitization, big players are becoming even stronger and taking the cake on the market share, placing small and medium freight forwarders in a disadvantage. And that's without even going into the new digital forwarder companies being launched by technology giants and that could place traditional freight forwarders in an even more difficult position to compete.
For freight forwarders, it is not a matter of recognizing the value of moving towards e-Forwarding, but a pivotal moment for taking action and preparing for change.
But, what goes into that change and how does freight forwarding turns digital? The e-Forwarder is curious to understand technology to improve how they market and provide services.
Some of the steps they are taking include:
Increasing their digital presence by having their website to promote their services.
Digitizing contracts and documents and uploading them to the cloud.
Automating requests for quotations and providing 24/7 availability online.
Capturing the intent of bookings and leads to follow up promptly.
It's time to move towards digitization
The digital transformation of the industry is unstoppable, it is happening right now, and it's not the time to stay still. Quite the contrary, it is a moment to take a step forward towards e-Forwarding, start reading about what is happening around you and what others are doing. Identify the possible points to be improved in your current processes and analyze the needs of your business.
We're seeing the shift in how clients search for prices and companies, so keep that in mind when thinking about your next steps. Fortunately, many solutions are surfacing in the market that have the goal of working for you and not against you.
Whether you need to transform the roles of your team or create assets to address the issues of your clients better, it will all begin with action.