Freight Forwarding tech solutions webinar
Access the full recording below or read on to learn more about this webinar.
On Tuesday, January 24th, six industry minds came together to discuss the latest in freight forwarding technology.
They discussed the democratization of tech, how it has increased competitiveness (and perhaps industry fragmentation), and the evolving freight forwarder role. The event concluded with a focus on 5 key priorities for freight forwarders to stay competitive.
Before giving an event overview, let’s take a closer look at those who shared the virtual stage:
- Ruben Huber is the Founder and Director of Oceanx, a network of maritime freight forwarders and non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs) that connects companies and their people to develop new products, offerings and strategic cooperations that aim for industry reinvention. It is a kind of think tank that guides their community on digital transformation and helps their members determine what solutions add value vs. "bling bling" technology.
- Krenar Komoni is the CEO & Founder of Tive, a company focused on providing a simple way for shippers and logistics service providers to monitor their shipments - in real time and collaboratively with all those involved in moving goods, at the container, pallet and individual item level.
- Marc Held, Fishtail's Co-founder and CEO, has created and kick-started diverse trade finance solutions for global traders and freight forwarders, the most relevant to this conversation being embedded finance, which enables logistics providers to offer freight or goods financing to their customers.
- Miles Varghese, Co-founder and CEO at Cargologik, is creating a collaborative (freemium) platform for independent logistics providers and shippers. The platform offers transparency through automated cargo tracking, document management, and real-time communication. The solution is like “Slack” for teams, hyper focused on moving cargo across the supply chain.
- Eric Johnson is Senior Technology Editor at JOC.com, where he leads coverage and analysis of technology’s impact on global logistics and trade. He regularly reports on how shippers, carriers across all modes, and logistics companies use software, as well as new concepts impacting core freight transportation processes like procurement, execution, visibility, and payment.
- Adam Robinson, CEO and Founder of The Robinson Agency, runs a full stack Marketing agency for the supply chain industry and related companies.
Democratization of technology in the freight forwarding industry
One of the main themes that emerged during the webinar is the democratization of technology in the industry over the past few years. Tools and resources previously only available to larger freight forwarding companies (e.g. digital freight management systems, transportation management systems, automated trade finance, and real-time tracking and visibility) are now widely available. Additionally, with the adoption of SaaS and cloud models, the cost of adoption decreased and the ability to infiltrate, proliferate, and distribute in cost-effective ways has drastically improved. As a result, small and medium businesses can compete more equitably on the logistics stage.
Attendees were left with an intriguing question to consider : Is technology democratization in the freight forwarding space increasing fragmentation? A decade ago, ending logistics fragmentation and focusing on consolidation were classic focus areas - the basic belief was that a small set of big companies would roll up all smaller businesses (think Amazon for forwarding). Instead, we are experiencing a very different trend: smaller companies accessing tools that enable them to stay in the game and new players increasingly emerging thanks to low entry barriers and accessible logistics technology. As a result, direct and indirect competition have increased substantially.
The role of Freight Forwarders is expanding
Our panelists also discussed how freight forwarders evolved from traditional logistics providers to consultative partners for shippers. In recent years, the essence, responsibilities, and scope of freight forwarders have indeed shifted. They have become more consultative in nature, offering expertise and guidance on diverse logistics aspects, including routing, vendor selection, trade finance, and technology implementation.
As panelists suggested, to excel in this new role and provide even more value to their customers, freight forwarders should aim to become logistics technology experts, and in some cases even resellers, to help shippers create cost-effective and market-efficient logistics solutions.
How to prioritize solutions and technologies?
Given current trends and economic climate freight forwarders must navigate a highly competitive market to remain viable. To do this, they must carefully evaluate and prioritize which solutions and technologies will (1) have the greatest impact on their operations, (2) provide the best return on investment, and (3) offer an advanced customer experience.
Throughout the discussion, 5 themes emerged as key focus areas:
- Effective communication and collaboration is crucial to maintaining and building relationships with suppliers, partners and customers. Solutions that facilitate seamless and efficient communication and enable transparency, such as digital platforms and communication tools, should be a top priority.
- Effective data management and utilization has become essential for freight forwarders as it enables them to make better informed decisions, increase efficiency, and lower costs. Data for data's sake will no longer fly.
- Visibility (including real-time tracking of shipments and their conditions, monitoring of inventory levels, and access to key performance metrics) has long been considered the gold standard in the freight forwarding industry, yet there are different technologies and approaches to obtain visibility. Choosing the right one to meet your needs is key.
- Automating and streamlining the most time-consuming processes can have a significant impact on the bottom line. By using technology to automate repetitive tasks, freight forwarders can become more efficient, freeing up their employees’ time so they can focus on more high-value activities. Additionally, automation can reduce the risk of errors and increase accuracy, which improves customer satisfaction and reduces the need for rework.
- Access to trade finance is vital as it enables freight forwarders and their shippers to manage cash flow and invest in growth and new technologies.
“Cash flow is everything. Cash flow can kill a business. Cashflow is king”
-Krenar Komoni, CEO + Founder @ Tive
Watch the full event here, and make sure to become a Fishtail friend to be kept in the loop about our future events.