Digitization & Automation Software Critical for Modern Customs Brokerage and Freight Forwarding Systems
Back To All Posts | Posted on August 11, 2021
Most industries have been undergoing a process of business digitalization and automation in the last few years. The devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global supply chain clearly identified pain points throughout the industry. Paired with the influences of new market entrants, increased customer expectations, and the need for more efficiency forced traditional operators to adapt to the modern age of seamless global trade.
The transport and logistics industry is one of the fastest-growing industries worldwide, and in today’s environment, it needs to change from long-standing practices to face the inevitable challenges in the international trade world. The global logistic sector is estimated to reach a value of USD 84.43 Billion by 2026.
Unstoppable and critical to the industry, digitalization is forging ahead. The current pandemic accelerated the need for digitalization solutions. Emerging key trends such as cloud, automation, data analytics, and streamlining workflows became crucial to ensure critical supplies were distributed quickly and efficiently during COVID-19. These technologies allow seamless end-to-end collaboration and increased efficiency between the stakeholders.
No longer a choice but now a requirement, digitalization in the logistics industry is unquestionably part of the future.
Digitalization is the Future
All aspects of life, including the logistics industry, have transformed into a digital world. While advancement was slow, digital technologies had already been in motion even before the lockdowns in 2020. Overnight, daily life shifted to virtual working and virtual learning and thrust e-commerce to a whole new level. A digital life needs digital solutions for the industry to cope, especially with the growing demands in global trade and increasing customer expectations.
Digital transformation of businesses and operations is vital given the numerous stakeholders in different countries throughout the supply chain. Operations need to become digital in order to enhance end-to-end visibility, efficiency, shipping processes and back-office operations. Real-time freight costs and tracking, paperless bills of lading, and automation of logistics execution notably improve operational efficiency.
Digitalization is needed to enable more transparent and efficient solutions. For years, the technology used in the industry has made slower than needed advancements. This has now changed drastically. Most of the important big players within the logistics industry have migrated their systems to more efficient and automated ones. Digitalization provides a quicker turn-around time for quotes and inquires.
Digitalization is fundamental to providing visibility, integration across the supply chain, and automation. Lessons learned from the widespread effects of COVID-19 must apply to future operations in the logistics industry. Technology and logistics go hand-in-hand as they each strive towards a common goal, increasing efficiencies and decreasing costs.
Cost and Time Efficiency through Automation
Time is one of the most valuable goods in the logistics industry. The complex and intricate dance of several vendors involved at various points in the supply chain requires every step and process to be timed perfectly to guarantee an on-time delivery without any disruption or delay.
Shippers struggle to meet their delivery goals with customer expectations of lightning-speed shipping times. Delays often cause extra costs like detention and demurrage charges. The very complex operations overall in the supply chain can be enhanced by automation through digitalization.
Limited human resources can be optimized by using automation for back-office operations such as emails, faxes, or phone calls to track freight, get rates, or complete the necessary paperwork. With new advances in robotics and artificial intelligence, automation technology is capable of executing tasks people used to do manually and with added benefits such as:
- Reducing the cost of certain supply chain operations
- Reducing human errors & improving accuracy
- Increasing speed and on-time deliveries
- Maximizing productivity
- Measuring performance in real-time
- Improving compliance
- Reducing the environmental impact
- Gaining more actionable data
With digitalization, not only does time efficiency increase notably, but the error ratio also drops significantly.
Automation technology can be applied successfully to various areas within the supply chain such as payments & invoicing, orders & fulfillment, customer service & communication, pick, packing & shipping, analyzing & forecasting sales, problem identification, and data & reporting to name a few.
Automation in the logistics industry will play an increasingly important role in helping all processes to run smoothly in less time with less labor especially manual, labor-intensive processes.
While automating supply chain applications and facilities is imperative for growth, limitations still exist. Not everything can be or should be automated. Supply chain processes include some tasks that require humans’ mobility, dexterity, and critical thinking. The companies that see the most success with automation will have leaders who take care to implement the right automation systems at the right time and integrate these systems well to support their human resources.
End-to-End Visibility – Real-Time Tracking
End-to-end visibility means having data available across the supply chain in real-time to enable better decisions on risk management and performance improvement.
Digitalization dramatically improves back-office operations by making them more efficient by enabling a flexible reaction of disruption within the supply chain keeping customers up to date on their orders. It allows businesses to provide customers with live updates on the delivery progress and realize possible delays such as port congestion or customs processing in advance to quickly change delivery workflows and plan accurate ETA’s. All resulting in happy customers, reduced customer service calls from unsatisfied clients, and increased customer satisfaction.
Also, a real-time transport visibility platform is an excellent tool to ensure that your business complies with all necessary regulations. It also enables you to anticipate new regulations and avoid sanctions or fines. This is even more important for organizations that engage in the export and import of products as the process is even more complex with varying tariffs, regulations, trade rules, and other stipulations.
In addition, reducing costs is more often the number one goal for most organizations. Real-time insights about the shipment throughout the transit stage are an important factor contributing to achieving cost-effectiveness. Accurate insights and data about inventory, routes, logistic issues at different points can enable businesses in dealing with risks and correcting the discrepancies at the right time. Increased visibility eliminates unnecessary route diversions and vehicle idling enhancing productivity levels and leading to a high return on investment.
Interoperability Through Digitalization
Digitalization helps companies streamline data flowing through their operations and gain data-based insights that can help with improving efficiencies.
But becoming digital as a company can do much more than that. Digitalization and data usage is the precondition to a global interoperability system between the different stakeholders.
Interoperability means the active exchange of data between different parties. This interaction would take the logistics industry and operations to a new, more transparent, efficient, and sustainable level. It would allow true end-to-end visibility and capture efficiencies that were never tapped before due to the absence of interoperable systems.
Interoperability is still a vision of the future because it is only possible if stakeholders follow data standards to ensure cross-company data interaction. However, the business transformation to a digital system is the first step into a brighter future with new opportunities.
Data Comparison Delivers Time and Cost Efficiency
Time and cost-efficiency are one of the main benefits of digitalization. Back-office operations can be automated and monitored with the same software and can be accessible by all employees anytime and anywhere.
One advantage for the inside operations of the company is that data is readily available for all members of the organization. Redundant processes such as sending and receiving documents such as quotes, rates, invoices, bills of lading, and reporting can be automated allowing human resources normally used for repetitive labor-intensive processes can be used in a much more efficient way while those administrative operations can run automatically in the back-office environment.
Digital leaders like Amazon and eBay who have built their e-commerce businesses on data and artificial intelligence have raised the bar and set the standard of expectations from consumers on any e-commerce site. Those customer expectations were already sky-high, and now with the global environment, they are rising to even higher levels.
With more people buying online than ever before by necessity, and without many alternatives, their expectations have only increased as their tolerance has decreased. If they can’t get what they need quickly and easily from you, they quickly choose to buy elsewhere.
End-to-end visibility through real-time tracking lets customers be part of a new and now expected consumer experience. Tracking the product and knowing where the order is at any time during its transit, is the new standard.
The industry was changed with Amazon’s ramped-up efficiency and fulfillment goals to meet customer expectations through their incomparable flexible delivery options.
These quickly evolving customer expectations have now set the standard for a new, digitized industry where transparency and efficiency are critical to succeed against the competition. The retail industry is a customer-facing industry and their success continually reflects through customer satisfaction. Aligning operations with customer needs and goals will ensure a lasting and successful business.
As the retail consumer increasingly leans towards the digital experience, digitalization within logistics becomes crucial for companies to maintain their market position and stay competitive in the future.
Setting the Standard for Future Success
The efficiency gain is one of the main advantages of digitalization to create a successful business. Digital technology and data can make supply chains more efficient, so they run more smoothly and deliver greater value to customers, partners, and the company.
Automating time-consuming paperwork or repetitive and redundant tasks enables organizations to easily track and monitor complex business activities that increase business success. Digitalization streamlines data ensuring they meet customer and business goals through optimizing internal and external operations.
With its ability to cut costs and timescales, digitalization is the answer to many supply chain pain points. Digitalization will invariably heighten efficiency as systems are updated and integrated, making life easier for everyone involved in the supply chain and creating an environment for continued business success.
Companies that invest in digital technologies, will be best positioned to optimize their plans to make their supply chain robust, flexible and resilient.
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