Why Freight Forwarders Need Shipping Visibility To Survive Today

The freight forwarding industry is facing an unprecedented amount of disruption in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The freight forwarding industry is facing an unprecedented amount of disruption in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic. With freight forwarders and their shipper customers struggling to overcome one crisis after another, from the pileup of vessels at ports on the U.S. West Coast to the now infamous Suez Canal blockage, many have realized just how invaluable visibility can be for mitigating risks and maintaining supply chain resiliency.

First, we have the Ever Given’s unfortunate accident and its impact on container capacity as well as carrier scheduling reliability (which was already at an all-time low well before the Suez Canal blockage). Then, to further illustrate what some are calling “the port version of March Madness,” the Port of Los Angeles “handled 957,599 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in April, up 113% year on year — the highest March number in the port’s history,” according to FreightWaves.

If you want an even clearer mental picture of the situation, the containers on these ships would extend from Los Angeles all the way to New York if placed end to end. With February’s global schedule reliability falling under 35% and even more blanked sailings on the horizon, freight forwarders have to identify the tools that can help them and their customers adapt more seamlessly to these shipping slowdowns.

The Power of Visibility

Speed and efficiency are vital in a post-pandemic world; however, without the right technology to give you true transparency into your forwarding operations, you can’t see what’s coming. This not only severely limits your ability to quickly respond to rapid marketplace shifts but also leaves you at a disadvantage against your competition.

By leveraging automation to increase visibility, forwarders can lower costs and optimize their customer’s delivery networks, while proactively identifying and managing issues in real time. Vendors, dock managers, production planners, and any other related party can stay well informed too and make the necessary adjustments on their end without having to wait for you to get back to them.

Tracking technology helps reveal costly, inefficient blind spots related to inbound shipments and makes information far more accessible as well. While there are many types of freight forwarding technology out there, what you really want is a platform that offers a comprehensive view of your shipper customers’ transportation processes across every mode.

More advanced software allows companies to easily share data with one another. APIs, for instance, eliminate the need to make unnecessary phone calls or send out redundant emails because they increase data connectivity and simplify communication. Forwarders can also start collecting the data that’s now visible to them and their customers to develop a more accurate understanding of their business and better evaluate supply chain performance over time.

If you want to reduce freight spending, increase your margins, enhance collaboration, gain data-based insight, and better scale your business, then it’s time to invest in the automation that will give your company the visibility and flexibility it requires to survive the murky waters of today. Visit GAMA to learn more.