Take the Quiz: Digital Maturity Index for Freight Forwarders
As a freight forwarder, you need to be a master of orchestration. Making sure that all the right pieces (ie. quotes, filings, rates, manifests, and so much more) end up in all the right places at just the right time.
And while the world around us has become increasingly digital, many freight forwarders are still using outdated manual processes, sending emails and faxes, and using spreadsheets to conduct their business.
In fact, one report found that complex, multimodal shipments can take as many as 40 e-mails on average to execute from start to finish.
You can be a whiz at managing your inbox, but at some point, failing to modernize and digitize is going to catch up with you.
The reality is, doing business with manual tools has become a significant impediment to growth, allowing errors to slip in, slowing down shipments, and negatively impacting customer satisfaction as well as organizational efficiency.
“Traditional forwarders that wish to survive have no choice but to digitize. By our estimate, automating manual processes now could reduce certain back-office and operational costs by up to 40 percent, while digitizing significant parts of the sales process could reduce related direct costs even more.”
Because there are so many moving pieces to managing a shipment, there are also many opportunities to digitize. In this maturity index, you’ll answer six simple questions to get a picture of how your company is doing in terms of putting technology to good use. Let’s get started!
1. I can visualize and manage all of my freight rates and quotes in one place, including amendments, as well as search and compare accurate, up-to-date rates online.
A ) Yes, I’m using a cloud-based rate management solution that helps me automate and streamline the rate and quoting process.
B ) No, I mainly rely on emails, phone calls, and carriers’ portals to obtain rates and send out quotes.
2. I have a single platform for multimodal shipping where I can manage all my electronic cargo bookings in one connected system that’s directly integrated with my carrier and NVOCC partners.
A) Yes, my booking process is automated, and I can manage all the associated documentation, including shipping instructions, bills of lading, invoices, and more in a centralized system.
B) I have a spreadsheet and an email template for every purpose. I never have fewer than a dozen browser tabs open. I’m a whiz at multitasking, but sometimes I wish I had more time to catch my breath.
3. I use digital customs compliance software that enables real-time data exchange to expedite customs clearance and release of shipments.
A) Yes, all of my key customs compliance documents, such as ISF (Importer Security Filing), are managed digitally with an electronic record of the filing, plus I can easily share documentation with the necessary trading partners.
B) No, I spend a lot of my day on the phone and sending emails to check on statuses and keep track of approvals. I worry about missing a CBP request or payment or missing filing my summary on time, since I’m juggling so many moving pieces all the time.
4. I have a comprehensive, digital logistics platform in place to manage the full origin-to-destination supply chain in a single solution.
A) Yes, I have the technology I need to ensure an efficient flow of information, automate processes, and meet my productivity goals all day, every day.
B) No, I’m aware that my business has silos where different departments or systems don’t or can’t communicate operationally. We sometimes have to enter the same information in more than one place. We need to be more efficient in our operations.
5. I have a comprehensive view of my shipments from door-to-door, and my customers can access tracking information without having to call or email me.
A) Yes, I know where my cargo is in real-time (not when the carrier website or U.S. Customs finally updates). Plus, my customers can access this information on a self-service app or website. They love the freedom and visibility it gives them.
B) I often spend time searching carrier and terminal websites for tracking updates and then emailing updates to customers. We get a lot of phone calls and emails from customers who want updates on their shipments.
6. I routinely connect and electronically exchange transactional information, including documentation (bill of ladings, air waybills, packing lists, commercial invoices, etc.) with my agents and partners.
A) Yes, I’m part of an online network that facilitates reliable origin to destination cargo flows and fosters new business relationships. I enjoy secure online communication with shipping industry participants, anytime, day or night, to facilitate timely sharing of freight documentation and peer-to-peer dialogue.
B) No, I have come to learn all of my agents’ preferred ways of working. Some of them do business by email, others over the phone, a few have their own web portals, and I even have one or two that still want me to send faxes.
Get your score!
5-6 As: You’re doing great. You’ve put some excellent technology in place to help you operate at the height of productivity. The sky’s the limit for you. That said, there’s always room for improvement. It’s a good idea to audit your system once or twice a year to make sure that you have it configured optimally to meet your needs. Technology is always changing, and just because you have invested in software doesn’t mean it’s working for you.
3-4 As: You’re on your way. You’ve put some tools into place to benefit from technology, but there is still room for improvement.
0-2 As: You’re not currently benefiting from all that technology has to offer. Selecting the right solutions for your business can seem daunting, but we’re here to help. Magaya has been helping freight forwarders use software to grow their businesses for more than 20 years.
“The era of doing B2B business “the old-fashioned” way is gone. Now customers expect a high level of involvement and really high-quality digital services when making a B2B purchase. The differences between B2C and B2B are blurring, as customers are eager to have the same smooth modern experience in all areas of their lives, including their work lives. At least 80% of B2B buyers are not only looking for but expect a buying experience like that of a B2C customer.”
Integrating digital technologies to streamline your forwarding and logistics business’ operations, increase efficiency and data accuracy is an important step in transforming your business and offering customers a great experience. There’s no time to put this off. Digital freight and logistics technology adoption is accelerating and new tech solutions are entering the global shipping industry every day. Ultimately, the end goal is to offer customers the best experience possible.
Get to know Magaya
As the leading platform in logistics and supply chain automation, Magaya is trusted by more than 2000 businesses located in over 82 countries. The flexible and hyper-configurable Magaya Ecosystem makes digital logistics solutions accessible to businesses of any size, and that support your business operationally and the end-to-end freight logistics needs of your customers.
With robust functionality, the Magaya Supply Chain platform has a broad range of modern apps and extensions, including customs compliance and rate management. The Magaya Ecosystem provides you with the ability to customize your technology with modular, interoperable solutions, giving you a system that perfectly meets your unique requirements.