Maintaining an online presence in a digitally-led world is essential for any freight forwarder’s survival. “Digital freight forwarder” is a newly-minted term that refers to forwarders that interact with their customers, agents, and vendors online, offering services that include instant quoting, online booking, shipments tracking, payments management, and tools that include dashboards and others.
Many success stories have emerged after the digitization of freight forwarding. Perhaps the most successful being Flexport. Founded in 2013, Flexport grew to hold a net worth of an outstanding $3.2 billion and is now one of the highest valued freight forwarders across the globe, beating the valuation of many legacy freight forwarders that were founded decades before it did.
Creating a shiny client-facing online platform, while not an easy task, is also not the most challenging part of becoming a digital forwarder. At its heart, the main goal for any forwarder going digital is to increase its competitiveness by offering faster and more transparent logistics services available 24/7. For shippers and consignees to see the value your online portal is offering, it has to really work! Otherwise, you will continue to hear the rhetoric about customers not being technology-savvy and wanting to get on the phone with the forwarder.
If you are serious about becoming a digital forwarder, you need to rebuild your internal processes around your online services. For example, you’d need to have an integration between carriers (or platforms) and your online portal to show tracking data or pass booking requests and shipping instructions instantaneously. In addition, if you are offering rates online, you’d need to make sure that the customer does not get a “Thanks for your inquiry. It has been received, and we will revert soon.” most of the time.
Remember, if you have an online portal, but customers insist on calling you, that most likely indicates that your portal is not easy to use, not up to date, or lacks some crucial features.