• Brendon Koh

How Technology is Changing the Future of Freight Forwarders?

Updated: Jun 30

Freight forwarding demands an extensive end-to-end implementation of systems and processes to ensure operational excellence and customer success. Over the recent years, a plethora of technological innovations and digital tools have sprouted and it is remarkable how technology is changing the future of freight forwarders. The conventional ways of paper-based freight forwarding processes and documentation have been replaced with digital freight management systems that boost productivity and increase connectivity. Freight forwarders that do not have a freight management system will risk being left behind and overtaken by competitors.

Freight forwarders need to understand that the decision to switch from manual, paper-based processes to a freight management system is not for the sake of doing so, but rather, a strategic decision that allows them to compete at the same level of competitors who already have freight management systems. Freight management systems are crucial in determining the success of freight forwarders.

In this article, we will share some insights on how technology is changing the future of freight forwarders and how adopting the right freight management system will help freight forwarders build a laser-focused supply chain to instil customer loyalty and drive greater revenue.

1) Cybersecurity is heightened in Freight Forwarding

In recent years, as more freight forwarders have gone digital and adopted cloud-based solutions, data breaches and security threats have been on the rise and this has heightened the need for freight management systems to be secure and protected from unwanted intrusion and hackers. It is imperative that freight forwarders ensure confidentiality and privacy of all their business data (e.g. customers, jobs, shipments, invoices, quotations, delivery orders, arrival notices, bill of lading, air waybills etc.). This requires careful selection of a suitable freight management system that is secure and managed by vendors who ensure data security policies and certifications (e.g. GDPR-compliance) are in place.

2) Freight Forwarding Moves to the Cloud

More freight forwarders are migrating key business processes and data to the cloud due to the high accessibility and availability cloud-based systems bring. The reason why companies are starting to move away from traditional, physical servers which are costly and cumbersome to maintain (e.g. accessing via VPN) to cloud-based applications is the ease of setup, flexible subscription pricing and high availability/server uptime. Cloud-based applications just work from the get-go without requiring much complex configurations and over-reliance on any IT headcount to get everything set-up. With a cloud-based freight management system, freight forwarders are able to access their business data in a secure manner, wherever they go.

The technology is changing the future of freight forwarders by providing them with cloud-based freight management systems that enable real-time data, immediate access across different operating systems and devices.

3) E-Commerce is changing the freight forwarding industry

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a surge in E-Commerce due to the regulatory restrictions (e.g. social distancing measures) which has compelled consumers to turn to online buying. This has fundamentally changed consumer behaviour and gradually altered consumers' purchasing habits. With the demand in E-Commerce growing at an exponential rate, the need for freight forwarding services rises as well. Freight forwarders are required to respond quickly to their customers (importers, exporters, manufacturers and retailers) who are employing customer-based service level agreements (SLA) to shorten fulfilment time as part of their strategy to stay competitive. E-Commerce customers have increased their expectations on product fulfilment and expect orders to be fulfilled within days instead of weeks.. Freight forwarding customers are also employing dual sourcing thus freight forwarders need to be able to respond to customers quickly. In order to be competitive and achieve faster customer turnaround time, freight forwarders need to have a freight management system that allows them to quickly enter critical job or shipping information provided by customers and provide rates within hours instead of days.

4) Automation of Freight Documentation

Freight forwarders handle a great deal of paperwork which include arrival notices, house bill of ladings, house air waybills, shipment release authorisation letters, booking confirmation documents, delivery orders, pickup notes, consolidation manifests just to name a few. Many of these documents are either edited by hand or via templates created and saved on Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Word. With so much data manually entered, mistakes are inevitable. It is common for freight forwarders to issue documents with errors due to unexpected mistakes by staff and this can damage the company’s reputation. Thankfully, there are many freight management solutions in the market that automate the generation of the various freight documentation mentioned above.

Instead of manually creating different freight document templates on Microsoft Excel/Word which may have revision issues, freight forwarders can adopt a freight management system that enables them to easily generate freight documentation in the click of a button. The keying of job or shipment information needs to entered only once and, in the event of any updates, freight documentation can easily be re-generated by a single button click.

So what’s next?

For freight forwarders who are still using the conventional methods to carry out their freight forwarding operations, it is time to relook into existing processes and consider investing in a freight management system before it’s too late. Freight forwarders should give a thought to take a step forward towards leveraging automation to generate more revenue and increase customer loyalty. Compared to cookie-cutter freight management software solutions in the market, a custom freight management system can be the first thing to look at since it is able to replace and replicate the current company’s manual processes according to the company’s business requirements. Custom freight management systems enable flexible changes in record time compared to off-the-shelf freight solutions which are incapable of doing so. How technology is changing the future of freight forwarders? A custom freight management system is the solution and offers flexibility, reliability, customisability and greater accessibility.

How to pick the right freight management system?

When it comes to selecting a freight management system, many freight forwarders are neck-deep into multiple product landing pages that all promise similar benefits. Here are some must-haves when evaluating a freight management system:

  • It must manage all your freight business data in one place

  • Generating freight documents should be easy

  • There should be built-in analytics to provide complete business visibility

  • You can easily customize and make changes to the system via a drag-n-drop interface

  • You should be able to edit document templates

  • There should be partner directory where you can engage experts to develop and make changes on your behalf

The above inclusions will make a freight management system a complete package for freight forwarders looking for a complete freight digital solution. Indeed, technology is changing the future of freight forwarders across the world.

Being a specialist in supply chain and operations, Automate Labs builds custom database applications that are automated, cost-effective and easy to use. Typical solutions worked on include Custom Freight Management Systems, Custom Inventory Management Systems and Custom ERP Systems just to name a few.

Our Forward FMS Freight Management System Software Solution is one of the only customisable freight management solutions in the market that allows users to make modifications to the system themselves. Simply book a free trial to get started today!

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