by Shahar Vigder, Shiperd
We all lead a digital lifestyle – we snap and share photos on Instagram, order a car on Uber, and shop on Amazon. But in our professional lives, when it comes to managing shipping, importers and exporters still use tedious phone calls, e-mails and spreadsheets like it's still 1999. Despite delivering trillions of dollars' worth of goods, importers and exporters have largely skipped the digital overhaul most other industries have undergone. International logistics is still a manual, cumbersome, and non-transparent process, leading to losses of billions of dollars due to inefficiencies. But fret not – a number of tech companies are now bringing innovation to the world's last industry yet to be disrupted by tech; they allow importers and exporters to regain control and visibility over their shipments, manage their shipments online quickly and effectively, and save money and hours of productivity.
When it comes to digitizing our business, our colleagues seem to do just fine. The CFO has an accounting software to follow up on payments, credit limits, and salaries like Xero or Quickbooks. The sales manager has a sales management software like Salesforce. The warehouse manager uses warehouse management software to track goods. So how come logistics managers still use Excel, e-mails and phone calls to manage their duties? One of the reasons is the information gap between the importers/exporters and the freight forwarders. There is large reliance on the service provider to advise on market conditions, legal position, and other logistical considerations that need to be taken into account. This makes service providers the industry's standard setters. However, one of the standards that might not be in the service providers' best interest is having a highly transparent and competitive market. Another factor, not necessarily negative in its own right, is the close relationship between the service providers and clients. The logistics sector is well known for friendly relationships between suppliers and clients. It's not always clear where the line between business and friendship ends as many deals are agreed upon over the phone, sometimes not even quoted until after the operation started. The trust often leads everyone to believe that all will be sorted later, between friends.
Shipping is an industry of highly specialized information flow, middlemen arbitrage, and asset play. But so much of what happens is either unnecessary duplication or prone to manual mistakes and other inefficiencies. The logistics industry has lagged behind most of the modern economy in both transparency and speed. It still uses archaic technology and operates in silos. The logistics industry is partially broken because it is very "offline," therefore wasting time and money while also providing a poor service. Pricing is often not transparent to the customers, resulting in billions of dollars of inefficiencies and missed opportunities.
But what if all processes – from the inquiry stage through the shipment transportation, freight tracking, and payments – could be automated?
Shiperd, the cloud-based Shipping Management Software, surveyed 200 logistics managers in the U.S., Europe, and Israel, and found the following inefficiencies:
It can take on average 3 days just to get a quote (by e-mail, fax, or phone)
In more than 10% of cases, quotes are inaccurate, confusing, or contain mistakes
Up to 50 e-mails and 10 calls are required per single trade
Endless questions about freight forwarders invoices
No automated updates about the shipment location/ETA
Zero transparency on charges, tracking, or process
However, there are some digital innovations that are here to make your life easier as a logistics manager:
Digital Freight Forwarders – Aiming to replace traditional freight forwarders, companies like Flexport or iContainers combine modern software and dedicated service to bring accountability, transparency, and efficiency to the supply chain.
Marketplaces – Companies like Freightos or Uship compare freight quotes from a global network of forwarders on an online freight marketplace.
Transportation Management Systems – Companies like SAP or Oracle provide full enterprise level supply-chain management solutions.
Shipping/Workflow Management Software – Shiperd is offering simple-to-use workflow management software for importers and exporters to save them time and money, while gaining control and visibility over their shipments. A cost-effective solution that blends into existing workflows and doesn't require changing methodologies or switching freight forwarders.
With these new innovations, manual processes will become a thing of the past, allowing importers and exporters the ability to better support their clients and move shipments more efficiently.
Shahar Vigder, Founder and CEO at Shiperd, is an experienced entrepreneur, enthusiastic about how innovation and digital together can disrupt complete industries. For more information, visit http://www.shiperd.com.
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