5 Tips for Upgrading Your Freight Forwarding Business
There are several factors to consider when upgrading your freight business. The most important areas to focus on are efficiency and improved communication. As freight technology and services evolve businesses are able to improve their speed and transparency to meet rising customer expectations.
These 5 tips will help you upgrade your business:
Freight forwarding is an invaluable tool enabling your freight business to reduce shipping costs and organise more efficient shipments and routes. By working with a reliable freight forwarding network you can access global shipping routes more cost-effectively, and benefit from their experience with international shipping. This can be very useful to avoid delays in customs and can help overcome language or culture barriers between you and your overseas clients.
Here are 3 key questions to consider when researching freight forwarders:
1. Which destinations and carriers do they cover?
Access to a network of experienced international agents is a key benefit of working with a freight forwarder, so it is vital to check they can provide quality service in the regions you need.
2. Do they have experience with your needs?
Besides familiarity with shipping to your destinations, look for a freight forwarder who is already well versed in the rules and regulations of customs and shipping for your type of freight.
3. What are their accreditations?
Members of trade bodies such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) can give freight forwarder access to streamlined customs procedures, as well as indicating their regulatory compliance and ethical business conduct.
If you work with a freight forwarding association such as DF Alliance much of this work is done for you, as they screen members for trust and reliability, and can help put you in contact with freight forwarders who have the experience you need.
Customs issues are one of the most common reasons your freight is delayed or otherwise made unprofitable. It is vital to fully research the duty costs and import and packing regulations of the countries you want to ship to, as well as any customs checks your freight will go through along the way. The time to clear customs can vary greatly depending on the shipment, country, and transportation method, so this research is necessary to give your customers accurate timescales.
Improving your labeling processes using automation can reduce the chance of shipment delays and problems in customs. A system to print labels with all the right information based on the destination and shipping route of your freight limits the opportunity for human error.
Labeling is not the only part of a freight business that can be upgraded with automation. Automated systems are far more reliable at performing repetitive data entry tasks, as well as much faster. Automated data entry has an accuracy rate above 99.9%, which is comparable to manual double entry at a fraction of the time and cost.
All the time your employees spent filling in forms and handwriting shipping details can be handled faster and with fewer mistakes by software. This frees your workers’ time to take care of the tasks software can’t handle.
Furthermore, faster and more accurate stock management means you can manage your inventory more efficiently. Every year businesses lose more than a trillion dollars worldwide due to poor inventory management.
Automation benefits your customers as well as your business. For example, Route Planner can sync with your account management system to update an online map with a shipment’s current location and status in real-time. This means customers can check on their shipment at any time, and your team gets fewer customer contacts asking for cargo updates.
Automated systems can also help workers with manual tasks for more efficient loading and unloading of cargo. For example, DF Alliance’s Load Calculator tool simulates loading a container or truck to determine the best placement of goods to optimize the use of space and enable faster loading.
Effective communication is a must for any freight business. Digital tools such as a business texting app make it easier to reliably contact overseas partners and clients quickly. Texting has a wide range of uses in the logistics and transport industries.
Besides improving your response times, using a digital communication tool lets you resolve delays and other issues faster. 82% of text messages are read within 5 minutes, even when texting between countries. Sending out a text with all of the necessary information or instructions is cheaper and faster than an international call, with less room for miscommunication.
Additionally, these tools can be integrated with your tracking system to send out immediate updates and alerts on shipment progress and delays. This means your customer gets the latest information without having to contact you, and you are able to address any problems faster.
Transparency is an important part of upgrading your customer experience. Customers want to know when their shipments will arrive and if there is a delay, they want to know why and what you are doing to resolve it.
Automated customer updates are a big help here, but to send these you also need to work with transparent shipping partners. Otherwise, you won’t have the latest information to pass onto your customer or the ability to resolve issues quickly. Transparency also helps to establish accountability if something does go wrong.
Furthermore, a lack of transparency can leave you in the dark about your shipments just as much as your customers. As a result, you need shipping partners who can explain and help you understand the costs and potential difficulties of shipping in their operating regions.
Even with great carriers, keeping track of your cargo on each carrier’s site can be a challenge. DF Alliance provides a tracking tool that gives you real-time updates for cargo with more than 20 shipping lines. Accurate tracking is vital to protect yourself against false stolen package claims and other forms of delivery fraud, which have been on the rise in recent months.
Freight forwarding, automation, and modern communication tools are all vital to improving cost-efficiency and upgrading your customer experience. Preventing and preparing for problems at customs is an area where many freight businesses can benefit from improvement, so make sure your business has the tools and partners to tackle these issues.
Providing the best service for your customers requires the use of the latest tools and technology to keep track of your shipping, keep your customers informed and keep in touch with your freight partners.
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