However, trends seem to be on the uptick for Land cargo, as developmental activities across regions like India and China pick up. A good infrastructure network in terms of railways has provided them with increased setting up of transfer hubs, which has provided an impetus to inter-modal transportation. There is a new wave of intra- Asia trade that is going on currently, and these economies are leveraging it.
What Freight Forwarders want in 2020
1. Transparency in the Supply chain
The pandemic has compelled governments and regulatory bodies to adopt more severe and guarded measures when it comes to the quality and safety of the items received. The argument being, that any given shipment goes through umpteen processes and changes various hands.
Therefore, freight forwarders today demand a more transparent flow, including the actual number of logistic partners they are dealing with, and a thorough knowledge of the supply chain they are participating in. They want to be aware of what they are dealing with, not because of just costs, but also for the regulatory compliance, and their workmen deployed on job, etc.
2. User friendly technology
Forwarders today acknowledge the need of technology to run their businesses smoothly and grow further. While there is a plethora of tech solutions available to these Freight carriers, what bothers them the most is the accurate integration of their business model with the technology.
Many of the freight carriers have been in the business for too long and have observed the traditional method of carrying their activities. Now with the need for forward and backward integrations in the supply chain, freight forwarders are looking for solution providers that can help them transition from the traditional to the tech approach seamlessly.
3. Tackling Demurrage and Detention, one step at a time
Freight forwarders want their logistics partners and their clientele to understand the challenges associated with Demurrage and Detention in the transportation. To push shippers to college cargo, shippers are charged by ocean carriers for Demurrage/ Detention. These charges are very taxing on the shippers and may increase over time as well. All stakeholders of the supply chain need to come up with solutions to either abolish or minimise these charges for the benefit of all forwarders.
4. Implement and leverage Automated Freight settlements
In a traditional settlement system, the processes involve manual work in everything from inspection of materials, settlements and payment authorization, to book keeping and data entry, if any. This meant deployment of additional staff and man hours for doing tasks that should be completed within minutes.
Freight forwarders are looking at automation to be their one-stop solution for all business requirements. They are looking at technologies like AI/ ML or Blockchain that will help them process orders, manage fleet arrangement, register invoice and regulatory documentation, cess and surcharges calculation, etc. all in one place.
5. Capitalising on the Catalyst
Boom of the of e-commerce and online marketplace has truly been a catalyst to the growth of the freight industry. Shopping at a click and doorstep delivery has changed the way people purchase. Now the consumers want safe and quick delivery of their order, free shipping and related offers, shorter turnaround time and delivery cycles, coupled with competitive pricing.
This paradigm shift in consumer demands has disrupted traditional supply chains and forced freight forwarders to think out of the box. They want to deploy technology, partnerships, and business models in a way that can fetch them the maximum gains and traction out of this trend.
Q1. What might be the short-term goals for a freight forwarder?
a) Business continuity by preparing plans for survival of their business, and minimise current losses
b) Safety of their employees and the customers they serve
Q2. What might be the long-term goals for a freight forwarder?
a) Bring in agility in business structure
b) Prepare for contingency measures
c) Diversify the supplier network and forge new partnerships
d) Adopting Freight Management systems for the long run
Some companies view the pandemic as a business opportunity, and are looking at the onset of a new era in Logistics and Supply Chain management backed by technology. What might help these businesses leverage this opportunity is to understand the expectations of the modern freight forwarder in 2020, and design business plans keeping them in mind.