Recent studies indicate that digitisation currently plays a big role in the freight forwarding industry. Most if not all of traditional forwarders today have automated their processes to some extent. While this is a necessity in today’s digital world, this innovation has also largely been influenced by next-generation forwarders who apply convenience-driven technologies.
Take for example Uber and Amazon who have been hinting at trying their luck in the global freight business. These tech giants even promise to introduce load-matching apps that display real-time pricing and worldwide services hubs to rival that of existing forwarders. With new players in the game, however, many companies still choose to rely on their local freight forwarder for reasons beyond getting goods delivered in time.
There’s reason why freight forwarders are seen as architects of the supply chain: they are the minds behind the working frameworks that exist today. That kind of knowledge only comes from years of experience that high-tech startups can never hope to match. As simple as it seems, the freight industry is actually very complex. Forwarders help their clients navigate trade lanes, map out sustainable distribution strategies, keep abreast of increased trade activity and overcome communication or cultural hurdles.
Forwarders have proven time and time again that they can get the job done. Operating a business often involves some risk-taking, but do you really want to add more uncertainty to the equation by placing your assets in the hands of an untested third-party?
More Personal Touch
One other major advantage forwarders have against the newcomers is better customer service quality. No app or algorithm can compete with personal and business connections formed between forwarders and firms.
For instance, a freight forwarder who has decades of experience under their belt likely have close ties and long-standing relationships with air or ocean carriers. This allows them to offer lower rates, therefore minimising expenses for companies. Dedicated forwarders can also employ professionals to ensure that customs compliance is updated.
It’s also more reassuring to know that there’s always someone on the other end of the phone who can field complaints and questions. If there’s a problem with the shipment or last minute changes to the arrangement, the forwarder can easily make adjustments.
Better Optimised Systems
For all that these new freight marketplaces boast of cheaper initial shipment fees in order to draw new customers, this is hardly anything to get excited about. Experienced freight forwarders know that saving money is not just about finding a carrier who offers affordable rates. It has something more to do with optimisation of transportation systems.
What makes a forwarder’s services more cost-effective are the systems in place. For instance, they might combine goods and cargo so that a single freight travels on lower cost modes. They will also pick the most efficient routes that would take less fuel time to further drive down expenses. In short, what you can save from a fully optimised system far outweighs the convenience of price discovery features on those freight marketplace apps.
Shipping delays can be devastating to businesses. When a crisis strikes, someone on the field should be equipped to deal with it, or the extra hours your goods spend in transit could cost you a lot. The forwarder’s job includes coming up with solutions on-the-go be it for freak weather, customs errors, inaccessible routes, vehicle breakdowns, and other problems that could arise.
With the forwarder as the middleman, shippers no longer have to worry about such concerns. Their primary goal is to ensure pickup and delivery of each good, and at no added stress on your end. This way, you can instead turn your attention to matters that are more important to your company.
More Shipment Options
Shipping goods of different types to different countries calls for a wide range of freight options. Whether you work in the food, electronics, automotive or textile industry, freight forwarders can help find suitable solutions and routes to send shipments.
Most forwarders provide comprehensive air freight, sea freight and courier services, even for time-sensitive cargo. However, they are not above using other resources and tools in their arsenal to ensure a successful delivery. Freight forwarding companies also cooperate with major transport sectors and hire other professionals to handle secure transport of goods.
Wider Market Reach
Established freight forwarders have tech companies beat when it comes to reaching markets around the globe. Apart from having fleets of vehicles and drivers within their employ, forwarders offer more expansive solutions for transportation. While these new competitors scramble to get a foothold on the world’s major markets, forwarders have already conquered the landscape.
If you wish to venture into a yet untapped market for your company, it only makes sense to do business with a partner who is familiar with a particular market. For best results, choose a forwarder who has an office or agents that can provide back-end support.
Complex Shipping Needs
Say you are a new shipper hoping to transport your goods for the first time or a business with highly complex shipping needs. A simplified platform presented by these new, niche freight brokerages might not be a good fit. Straightforward shipments that require port-to-port services may benefit from online systems, but freight forwarders know just how commoditised the shipping market really is.
Sometimes, there are just far too many variables that need to be considered, and this is where freight forwarders excel. Shipping terms pertaining to customs exam costs or tradeoffs in shipping to cheaper port, for instance, necessitate professional involvement. Talking to your forwarder about options that can accommodate your needs can cut down costs and save valuable time.
While it is true that the freight industry needs better technology, there is no denying that many shippers will always prioritise dependability at the end of the day. This is not to say, however, that existing forwarders are reluctant to adopt new technologies. In fact, the current digitisation and automation trends proves otherwise. Freight forwarders are in the unique position of capitalising on such opportunities while catering to their customer base’s needs.
Sneddens Specialises in Helping You Win in Importing from China and India
Sneddens is one of the leading freight forwarders assisting its customers to import efficiently from China and India by utilising the assets described in this article. As a result, it has a fast-growing business sourcing and importing product from most ports in China and India and very happy customers.
Top 25 Freight Forwarders 2017: Digitization & E-Commerce continue to reshape the marketplace, LogisticsMgmt.com
Is freight forwarding at a crossroads due to new technology?, SupplyChainDive.com