For the logistics industry at large, there’s no question that digital transformation is at the top of the list in 2023 and beyond. To stay competitive in a down market, freight forwarders and logistics service providers (LSPs) need to find novel ways to lower costs and save time, improve operational performance, and enhance the customer experience.
Here are four of the top freight technology investment opportunities to consider to stimulate growth and increase market share.
1. Visibility for all stakeholders
It’s clear to see that visibility will continue to be a priority in 2023 and beyond. Visibility solutions equip forwarders and their shipper customers with timely, actionable freight data that can be used to improve supply chain performance, resilience, and agility.
Shippers are able to make data-based decisions when they matter most, achieve significant improvements to operational performance, inventory management, and efficiency with accurate visibility information. Additionally, when visibility data is shared with all supply chain stakeholders, a more effective, streamlined, and reliable flow of goods to market is achieved and a higher level of customer satisfaction. It all adds up to provide shipment partners with the competitive edge that’s so critical to business success today.
Over the next 5-10 years, forwarders and LSPs, and their customers, will see significant improvements to visibility solutions as data becomes more accurate and actionable, nearing real-time. Moreover, advancements in technology, such as machine learning and AI (artificial intelligence) will enable more predictive data to continually enhance supply chain performance.
Within warehouses, forwarders are elevating their shipper customers’ experience with online visibility tools that offer easy access to essential shipment information. This is particularly important as e-commerce transactions continue to be a preferred channel for consumers requiring companies to respond quickly, in less than 24 hours in some cases, to online purchases.
Web-based freight solutions provide shippers with self-service capabilities for functions such as, reviewing inventory in the warehouse, viewing warehouse receipts, cargo releases, and pick-up orders. There’s no need for phone calls and emails to gather this information when a shipper can quickly and easily access it online. Additionally, online reports enable shippers to review actionable product data, such as part numbers, purchase orders, inventory, and status messages for better data-based decisions.
2. An integrated and connected platform
While it once seemed like a vast improvement on paper-based communication, e-mail simply isn’t cutting it anymore in today’s fast-paced market. After all, supply chain success hinges on effective collaboration: between agents, forwarders, carriers, customers, government agencies, and more. Given the complexity of modern logistics and the volumes of data that need to be shared, digitally connecting and integrating solutions is the most effective approach to building a comprehensive freight technology platform. Selective integrations with specific digital solutions that marry up with a forwarders’ strengths and customers’ needs is the pathway to building a platform that is tailored to a forwarders’ unique qualities and offers a better customer experience and competitive advantage.
As an example, seamless integrations for shipment orchestration areas such as rate management reduces redundant, manual data entry and errors, offering faster time to value, and increased online visibility to rate data for all parties to a shipment.
3. A collaboration must – CRM
Market challenges and competitive pressures emphasize the importance for forwarders to advance their customer and sales management processes with a systematized CRM (customer relationship management) designed to address the unique sales and customer engagement requirements of their logistics business.
A system for leads, contacts, and accounts managed in a single platform helps to eliminate unproductive data silos, fosters a more efficient process, and the ability to boost sales. All staff work with the same up-to-date information and are more effective as they collaborate across teams and management.
Given the challenges of falling freight volumes, a CRM can also provide a vital opportunity to grow the business with marketing campaigns. Keep contact with existing customers to boost loyalty and reach out to prospective ones to ensure they stay top of mind.
4. Digitized customer experience
B2B customers have come to expect the same frictionless, streamlined experience in their workday as they have as a consumer. This means fast, easy, online access to useful information whenever they want it day or night.
This always-on, digitally-enabled world has created growing pressure to allow shipper customers to transact digitally when it comes to their freight execution and management processing needs. When forwarders enable shippers to transact digitally, they’re investing in the digital tools that strengthen their connection with customers, offering the best experience possible, frictionless, and responsive which is an important step in strengthening business relationships.
Digital forwarders provide a customer-facing freight execution portal that offers shipper customers immediate access to digital freight execution tools, such as online freight rates, schedules, cargo booking within minutes, and tracking information. This capability saves shippers time and gives them immediate access to timely freight data that allows them to promptly address exceptions to keep their supply chain running smoothly.
Furthermore, providing customers with digital tools strengthens a forwarders’ competitive position and ability to grow market share by adding a fresh channel to gain new customers.
Now, as we sail into 2023, it’s time to carefully evaluate if your forwarding and logistics company is meeting the stringent digital expectations of global shipping, making those important connections, and delivering the best customer experience.