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Apr. 24, 2019

Getting a Grip on the Chaos of Global Trade

Flexport

“I accept chaos, I'm not sure whether it accepts me” is a line credited to Bob Dylan. But it could just as well be attributed to anyone who has been in the middle of the freight forwarding process. As technology finds its way into the industry, however, it is beginning to play a transformative role. And those in charge of managing freight forwarding might soon find that Dylan’s line no longer applies.

The traditional way of managing freight forwarding has been characterized by disjointed interests playing out independently of one another, leaving consignees stuck in the middle of it all. Not only that, it’s a setup for potential errors. A single issue could weaken the links in the supply chain, resulting in stranded inventory, tied-up capital, and businesses left trying to placate unhappy customers. Without transparency, and without the benefit of centralized information through technology, the legwork to sort out the many steps in the process is sometimes bewildering and always time-consuming.

But, the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that new logistics technologies could cut shipping and customs processing times by 16 to 28 percent. That’s not surprising. As more businesses recognize the value of digital platforms in freight forwarding, they are beginning to leave the legacy systems behind.

For those that do, the benefits are notable--not the least of which is faster and more intelligent decision making, thanks to informative data that can be captured during the freight forwarding process.

Knocking down the walls that partition importers, exporters, transport carriers, customs agencies, and port terminals -- which is what a digital platform can do -- creates the transparency necessary to neutralize the chaos and restore predictability. This lets businesses pivot on real-time information to keep logistics, commercial, and customer expectations on track. Plus, they’re able to gain visibility and control to better forecast and balance supply and demand -- while keeping costs in check.

In fact, a major wholesale producer of restaurant and kitchen ware was able to reduce stockouts by 10 percent due to increased visibility when it switched to a digital platform -- and better calculate product cost across shipments.

In the end, having access to discrete pools of critical information across the shipping ecosystem -- alongside invoices, packing lists, bills of lading, and other relevant documents -- can completely transform the entire experience of global trade. But for that to happen, technology must be part of the process.

Read more about how to cut chaos out of supply chain management and learn how three businesses were able to achieve significant benefits by adopting freight forwarding technology. Download the new eBook, “From Chaos to Control: Optimizing Global Trade with Data.”

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