Although the criteria under which each is chosen varies, both ocean and air freight have their place in the supply chains where they perform their best. Air freight is often chosen for lighter cargo and those that need to be delivered on extremely tight deadlines. Ocean freight on the other hand is highly cost-effective and perfectly suited for large shipments that need to travel across the globe. Freight forwarders, especially 3PL and above often deal with clients who would have to choose various modes of delivery that are best suited for their business needs.
Having separate software solutions to maintain different parts of the supply chain can introduce confusion, redundancy in workflow, and highly disjoint communication that is sure to bring down the efficiency of the freight forwarder. The most effective solution for freight forwarders is to use an ERP software that brings both air and ocean freight under one platform as it integrates all the departments of the company to give an end-to-end perspective on the supply chain.
The advantages of one software solution
At the heart of all shipping, operations are freight tracking. When it comes to air freight tracking, there is enough reliability to know the status of the freight on a periodic basis as the airline industry depends on carriers always being on top of their schedules. Ocean freights however are notorious for their unreliability on schedules as delays are a common feature in the industry. ERP software platforms are often integrated with real-time tracking technology such as GPS which keeps the stakeholders informed at all times regarding the status of shipment. Therefore forwarders and customers who have their shipments split among air and ocean freight can have accurate real-time data on one platform.
Clear and open communication is one of the most advantageous features of having one software solution managing both air and ocean freight forwarding. The platform keeps all stakeholders up-to-date with the shipments and critical information such as delays of change of routes. A number of modes of communication such as emails, direct messages, and even chatbots can help the various parties involved keep track of the situation.
One customer database
Having one software solution handle all the freight helps consolidate data for further use in business intelligence and analytics. The platform can maintain all data on every customer from every interaction and business activities in one database which would otherwise be split between the different software solutions rendering it ineffective to gather business intelligence. The same data can be used to improve customer experience and satisfaction and negotiate better deals to maintain their loyalty.
The most significant revolution in freight forwarding is set to occur on the front of automation as most systems from order placements, ground operations and freight tracking to customer management will eventually be automated. At the heart of automation is data-driven machine learning and the application of the Internet of Things to take reigns off the hands of human operators. Having one platform to manage both air and ocean freight can transform the entire supply chain and improve such aspects as fleet management, barcode integration to enhance security, geo-fencing for the ground crew to safeguard cargo, and predictive maintenance to improve efficiency.
Opting for a single solution to manage both air and ocean freight has a number of advantages that translate into reduced costs, increased operational efficiency, high-profit margins, and increased customer satisfaction. Integration into one platform is the way forward to ride the wave of the digital revolution that is taking over the freight forwarding industry.