If you're an experienced importer, you may have noticed the drastic changes regarding the role of technology in supply chain. But why is digital such a big part of logistics and freight forwarding? In this blog post, we will be going through the drivers of technology in supply chain management, and how your business can take advantage to become more efficient.
Let's first take a look at the freight forwarding and logistics industry.
As customers enter new markets, especially in emerging economies, they are demanding much more than traditional transportation and warehousing services from their freight forwarding and contract logistics providers. For many freight forwarders, the ability to offer new, value-added services such as warranty processing, returns management and light manufacturing is now a differentiator, as is providing services such as customs and insurance brokerage, and trade and transportation management. In other words, the ability to become a “one-stop-shop provider” is emerging as a way to achieve differentiation and capitalize on cross-segment opportunities.
One of those value-added services that has garnered attention is digital supply chain management, such as Maersk and Alibaba's partnership that offers online booking of shipments. The importance of digital systems, such as online tracking, freight consolidation, and other communication tools in the freight industry is apparent as globalization drives freight to more places in the world.
So why does automation and digitization play such an important role in the freight industry?
1) Research shows that supply chain visibility remains a top operational priority for global businesses today.
Businesses generally struggle to achieve a unified picture of their supply chains because of the legacy information systems designed to operate within a single company, not across a network of companies. Thus, the ability to share real-time information with key customers, suppliers and partners has become critical in the freight forwarding industry.
2) Optimization of resources is also another key driver for the presence of automation and digitization in the freight forwarding industry.
When adding automation and digitization, you can be more precise in what resources you are using and how they are performing. You are able to have deeper insights of the indicators that drive your business, such as processing times, capacity of trucks or containers, cost and demand, etc. Additionally, automation allows you to minimize time spent on doing repetitive tasks, and allow you to focus on other important areas of the business.
Now that we understand the crucial role of technology in supply chain systems, how do you incorporate digital elements in your business to improve your supply chain efficiency?
According to Accenture's analysis and scorecard of industry players, three business capabilities stand out in particular.
1) Flexible business model
Supply chain managers of high performing players know that time to market is critical in their industry—they need to have the flexibility to respond with speed and agility to their customers’ need for convenience. Ensuring that your business is agile and are linked together across regions will allow for faster responses to customer demand. Freight forwarders that have extensive networks and expertise can help you expand and become more flexible.
2) Using IT to maintain 360-degree control.
The high performers have moved well beyond using IT merely as an enabler of internal process management. Instead, these businesses leverage customer-facing technologies to empower their operations and enable end-to-end visibility across the entire supply chain. Ensuring that your business are able to integrate more valuable, services to your customers will further allow for better planning.
3) Utilise data to boost competitiveness and value
Key performers will have deep expertise about their customers and their industries. Customers now span across multiple regions as a result of globalization. By utilising data to understand the needs of your customers, and aligning yourself with industry best practice, technology, and processes, your company will be able to increase its competitiveness and value. Research shows that companies that are able to harness the power of digital technologies could significantly enhance their competitiveness, and boost their earnings by approximately 13% annually.
Freight forwarders can play an important role in transitioning traditional supply chains to one that's more responsive, competitive, and valuable. As one of the few players in this space, Whale is strengthening our abilities to provide customers with offerings that are built on ease of access, transparency, and in swift, near real time integrated service. (To see how Whale incorporates technology into our productivity system, click here).
By using new tools and analytics capabilities to extend its view right through to the end customer, digital freight forwarders like Whale can help to increase your business' reach and value, such as data insights that improve the customer’s business planning, and near real time vessel tracking abilities. Still mired in largely manual and heterogeneous processes, supported by a variety of different tools, most of the industry’s incumbents simply can’t compete!
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share and comment to let us know. See prior posts in our Freight Forwarding series here or subscribe to our blog for the next post, which will be about International logistics.
Whale Logistics are Australia’s leading Freight Forwarder and Logistics company located in Sydney and Melbourne. We deliver digital-focused freight forwarding services such as Australian customs parcel tracking, parcel delivery box, and comprehensive ocean, air and road freight solutions.
If digital freight management is something you are interested in or are struggling to build towards, speak to one of our Customer Success Manager today. Our team can help you figure out what solutions are the best for you and how to implement them.