Global Freight Forwarding Software & Systems: Top Developments
According to a 2019 report from Software Advice, 24% of shippers still rely on manual methods to handle their transportation management needs. While this number is still high, given that our current economy is ruled by digitization and automation, it's not nearly as high as it used to be. Today, more and more freight forwarders are turning to freight forwarding software solutions to manage the brokering of freight for their clients - and there have been several exciting advancements in freight forwarding system software over the past few years.
This article will explore the current state of freight forwarding software, the challenges associated with utilizing freight forwarding systems, and the top freight forwarding software developments that are revolutionizing the industry.
As demand for transportation services continues to rise, air and ocean container shortages have become a global issue and the number one source of supply chain disruption. Faced with increasing shipping expenses, it is now more critical than ever for freight forwarders to manage their operations efficiently and cost-effectively. Thankfully, various solutions today are designed to help freight forwarders meet this objective.
Forecasting via analytics, for example, enables freight forwarders to predict both demand and availability better. Solutions that allow for improved supply chain transparency, meanwhile, are helping freight forwarders better anticipate disruptive events and help create supply chains that are more agile and adaptable. Perhaps the most impactful freight forwarding software advancements, though, are advancements regarding AI and automation.
Collecting, storing, and communicating data and documents via manual methods is a wildly inefficient and error-prone process. However, with solutions such as Expedock, freight forwarders can automate their data collection processes, transform messy, unstructured data into a structured and easy-to-analyze format, automate the freight invoice auditing and posting process, and much more.
The current state of freight forwarding and the global economy might produce plenty of cause for concern, but the current state of freight forwarding software reveals a lot of promise. By eliminating a broad range of inefficiencies and common sources of error, these software solutions optimize their operations when optimum efficiency is vital.
Freight forwarding systems such as CargoWise have offered immense value to freight forwarders. However, without the right software add-ons, these freight forwarding systems still present a few key challenges.
CargoWise enables freight forwarders to manage logistics transactions and freight operations from a single platform. However, they rely heavily on manual processes, particularly for a statement of account processing and invoice reconciliation. Cargowise may provide a convenient environment for managing operations, but the forwarder must still collect, organize, and upload manually unless you use additional software solutions.
This reliance on manual processes makes them more prone to error than automated ones. They are costly, time-consuming, inefficient, and costly. Many freight forwarding companies have pushed their frontline workers to the breaking point to meet rising demand.
According to a recent report from McKinsey, "Despite wage increases, logistics operations are still having difficulty hiring and retaining frontline workers, while also seeing increased absenteeism, causing knock-on effects across the supply chain." While there are several factors to blame for this issue, employee burnout is one big reason so many frontline workers have left the logistics industry - and an overreliance on inefficient, manual processes is the primary cause of this burnout.
It isn't just the process of collecting data where these inefficiencies and issues arise. Manual data collection leads to disorganized and unstructured data, spread across multiple storage locations and formats and rarely standardized even between freight forwarders' systems. Along with putting a lot of stress on the employees who are required to sift through this haystack of data, unstructured data is also much more difficult to leverage for timely, actionable insights.
The good news is that freight forwarding software has come a long way toward addressing these issues. Today, freight forwarders that utilize the right combination of freight forwarding systems such as CargoWise and software add-ons such as Expedock can automate their data collection and management processes and avoid all the problems that overreliance on manual processes creates.
The past few years have been an exciting time in the logistics technology industry, and several recent developments promise to address some of the most significant issues facing today's freight forwarders. While adopting and implementing new technology is often just ad big of a challenge in the logistics industry as developing it in the first place, these technologies are slowly changing the freight forwarding industry for the better.
Some of the top areas where freight forwarding software developments have been most promising include areas such as:
Reliance on paper documents in the freight forwarding industry might not be as prevalent as it was just a few years ago. However, it's still a significant source of inefficiency for many companies. This leaves continued digitizations as an essential objective for many freight forwarders. As inefficient as manual data collection is, compiling manually collected data into paper documents is even more inefficient and error-prone. With the right technology, freight forwarders can quickly transform their paper documents into digital, structured data, powering further and faster document digitization across the industry.
AI has come to play several vital roles within the freight forwarding industry. For one, AI enables freight forwarders to transform paper documents and unstructured digital data (such as PDFs) into structured data. Along with streamlining the digitization process, the rise of useful AI allows freight forwarders to automate the classification of documents and upload them to CargoWise as e-documents.
Transforming unstructured data into structured data isn't the only process that AI can automate. With the right software, AI can also automate the processes that fuel this data. For example, freight invoice auditing and posting can be automated using Expedock. Along with invoices and purchase orders, other documents that Expedock can turn into time-saving workflows include:
By transforming what used to be inefficient, manual processes into automated workflows, AI-powered solutions can deliver a 20-80% reduction in data extraction and entry costs.
Storing data in multiple formats across multiple locations often makes it a nightmare to find the documents you need when you need them. Thankfully, it's a nightmare that freight forwarders no longer have to deal with.
With Expedock, freight forwarders can send in their documents via a simple process that takes just a minute or less. Expedock's AI technology automatically extracts data from those documents with 85-95% accuracy and can be trained to achieve up to 99.9% accuracy. In addition, by making it easy to transform documents from differing sources and in different formats into a single source of structured data, Expedock eliminates all of the issues created by disorganized and unstructured data with just a few clicks of the mouse.
One of the most significant advantages of freight forwarding software is the ability to automate many tedious and costly processes. With Expedock, for example, freight forwarders can completely automate document digitization and formatting processes, data organization and classification processes, and processes associated with auditing invoices and reconciling accounts.
By automating these time-consuming processes, freight forwarders can dramatically ease the burden of their employees, reducing frontline worker burnout and freeing staff up to spend more time addressing customer concerns and growing the business.
There is no shortage of challenges facing freight forwarders in 2022. However, the solutions to many challenges are readily available in freight forwarding software. With Expedock, freight forwarders utilizing CargoWise to manage their operations can transform their documents into structured data. Further, using AI built into the Expedock platform, forwarders can extract relevant data from those documents and turn that data into automated workflows.
Contact us today to learn more about how Expedock can help companies take full advantage of the top developments in global freight forwarding software and systems.