The ocean freight forwarding industry should embrace technology, according to online freight forwarding company iContainers.
“As shippers press on with their demand for speed, transparency, and efficiency, the freight forwarding strives hard to find a quick enough and appropriate response. The solution to this equation lies before our eyes: Technology,” Klaus Lysdal, Vice President of Sales and Operations of iContainers, said.
“In order for freight forwarders to fully take advantage of all that technology can offer, we should begin by looking for opportunities to utilize it and this should begin as soon as possible,” Lysdal pointed out.
Over the past decade, there has been an increasing number of freight forwarders adopting technology. But for the most part, the industry has employed it to improve its internal processes, for the sake of the freight forwarding company itself. In comparison, shipping lines have utilized it to enhance their services. Most carriers have been able to save time and money by making their customers submit documents online.
“Carriers have the advantage because they operate in a market with very little competition. Freight forwarders on the other hand, face the challenge of having to do things that help the clients rather than adopting a technology that could ease their workflow,” Lysdal added.
As explained, the reason behind the apparent reluctance to adopt technology is due to a cost versus gain issue. Certain freight forwarders find it too costly to develop online tools for their clients taking into consideration the relatively low return in potential increased business. Some have also argued that the freight forwarder business remains very much so a ‘people business’.
“There’s a reluctance to replace a personal touch that’s crucial for shippers. For many of them, the personal service is important. It’s vital for them to know that there’s a human presence around they can trust and rely on to take care of their shipment and to ensure things move as smoothly as possible,” Lysdal further said.
“Hopefully over time, the barrier between technology and freight forwarding will dissipate and a safe and beneficial fusion can emerge,” Lysdal concluded.