Many logistics service providers like freight forwarders and ocean carriers still help manage international shipping using traditional methods, such as phone, email, and fax, but the world is changing. The pressure on shippers is evolving, which has made creating efficiency within shipping supply chains more important than ever. It’s now crucial for companies that service them to keep up.
It’s because of this pressure that forwarders and carriers face the need to improve their operations and remain relevant. However, with the introduction of new digital platforms, this pressure doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. So, how can logistics companies get started with all of this potential new technology? We’ve compiled a list of the first basic steps logistics services providers can take to start the process of digital optimization, so you can continue to provide the level of service your shipper customers expect.
1. Take an Honest Assessment of Your Operations
When attempting to integrate a new technological solution, you have to understand what you need. Technology is not one size fits all, so you should consider how compatible and necessary specific technologies are for your operation’s size. Technology cannot help you successfully meet your goals and produce measurable results if it does not fit the context of your business. The key is to leverage technology for where your business is now and where it is heading. Quantifying how technology saves you time and avoids unnecessary problems is an important first step.
2. Consider the Entire ROI
What other influences — like the customer benefits — are driving the need for more automation within your logistics processes? Think about how better service and operating efficiency can improve your operating margins and generate more revenue. Not all technology guarantees the best return on your investment, so understanding all the costs and benefits of what technology can offer will help you determine the degree of digitization your company requires.
3. How Would Automation Impact Certain Processes?
Forwarders and carriers need to reflect on how automation would impact their existing processes because some logistics operations may not work as well as others with more technology. This concept may seem counterintuitive, but adding technology can be disruptive when it’s done poorly. This could also be the case for companies who find it more cost-effective to stick to conventional methods due to a lack of options for automation. Whatever the circumstances, it’s important to identify which processes will mesh the best with new technologies. Sometimes less is more.
4. Work Proactively to Minimize the Potential Negatives
Integrating new technology usually calls for new processes and required training, so preparing users for adjustments like these before introducing new systems will help minimize many of the problems. Change can be difficult, but smart companies plan ahead by ensuring the implementation of technology is well-planned with lots of communication.
5. Utilize a Marketing Technology Stack
A marketing technology stack refers to a group of technologies that logistics companies can utilize to improve their more difficult marketing processes, while also boosting efficient spending, to measure their impact on business. Forwarders can now test out an abundance of SaaS tools to help automate parts of their business (Salesforce for CRM/ Intercom for Customer Service/ Mailchimp for email campaigns, etc.) and gradually build up an arsenal of digital tools for a couple of dollars per month.
Shipping is being transformed by technology and automation platforms. All logistics service providers should be looking to technology as a solution for remaining relevant. Considering steps like these before investing in new technology may help logistics companies make the transition a little more smoothly.