If you run a small or medium-sized enterprise that trades internationally, there’s a significant chance you’ve experienced frustrations with your imports or exports in the past. Frequent causes for concern include:
- Customs declarations and other paperwork causing headaches and even delays
- Poor customer service from logistics providers
- Finding value-for-money logistics services
- Unnecessary delays or even lost cargo
International logistics can be complex and the stakes are high, so you need your shipments to arrive in time to maintain good customer relations and a fine reputation. This is why utilizing a more digital approach to business shipping could offer the solution.
Online freight forwarding portals use the best-in-industry technology to provide an unparalleled beginning-to-end service to their customers. Traditional freight-forwarding models are being usurped by more efficient, customer-friendly digital models.
How online freight forwarding platforms work
If you’re considering using an online freight forwarding service, this is the experience you have to look forward to:
- Get an instant quote by providing just a few necessary details about your shipment.
- If agreeable, confirm the booking in just a few more clicks.
- Choose from a number of payment methods including invoicing on account or credit card payment.
- You are notified of any documentation required for the route your shipment is traveling so that all rules and regulations are correctly met.
- The shipment process begins, with real-time online tracking available at all times.
It’s worth noting that while some traditional freight-forwarding companies may utilize some of this technology, they are not necessarily a fully digital provider of logistics services.
Read on to find out how going fully digital will work for your small or medium-sized business:
1. Easily find a service to suit your budget
With an online freight platform, you can get quotes in seconds. No matter where you are shipping to or from, you can get a real-time, guaranteed price for moving your goods. This enables you to very quickly find a service that suits your budget. No more time wasted ringing round for quotes.
2. Save time (and money) with the immediacy of a digital platform
The technology used on online freight-forwarding platforms means unrivaled systems of connectivity. There’s no need for back-and-forth emails or phone calls between parties. All relevant information is automatically forwarded to all parties immediately upon booking.
As soon as you confirm your booking, all involved parties are notified. This would include the supplier, the recipient, and forwarding agents at the shipment’s points of origin and destination. They then have all the information they need to complete your shipment in the most timely manner.
No time is lost in unnecessary bureaucratic processes or waiting for humans to complete tasks. And these savings are also passed onto the customer through faster service and better shipping rates.
3. Enjoy simplified tracking
With online freight forwarders, you can look forward to utilizing the real-time shipment tracking facilities built into their platform. Being able to track your shipment from the moment it leaves until it arrives will allay any worries you may have about it reaching its final destination.
But you can also rest assured knowing that should any problem or delay arise, you will receive an automated notification. This means you always know the projected time of arrival for your shipment. With conventional models of shipping, you are unlikely to be promptly notified of any issues with the timely arrival of your shipment. This poses more risks for your supply chain and customer relations.
4. Benefit from outstanding customer service
It’s a popular misconception that the more automated the service, the lower the levels of customer service. It’s easy to make the incorrect assumption that if computers are doing all the hard work, then it will be difficult to make contact with a person who can answer any queries you have.
Small business owners often have additional concerns. They worry that their own customer service needs are likely to be overlooked in favor of bigger-budget VIP clients. For the best online freight-forwarding platforms, this could not be further from the truth.
Because of the automated nature of many aspects of the business, online freight forwarders can invest more in their customer service team. And this team provides careful customer care and personal attention on an equal basis, regardless of whether the customer ships large volumes daily, or just one or two small shipments a month.
Customer service will also be contactable in a number of ways, including phone, email and live online chat support. This allows you to access help in the way that is most convenient to you at that moment.
5. Overcome compliance headaches
Compliance with the many rules and regulations associated with moving goods across international borders can be very difficult. For small business owners with limited time and resources, or first-time importers or exporters, navigating these rules can be stressful. Failure to comply with customs laws can mean heavy penalties and serious delays, so it’s important to get paperwork right every time.
Luckily for you, online freight forwarders have integrated compliance management built into their service. This means there’s no need for you to learn the ins and outs of compliance on the route you are trading through, and no unnecessary form-filling or emails as per a conventional freight-forwarding service. This is a huge advantage for time-pressed businesses.
When you book your shipment, the compliance software identifies the correct documentation required for that route and you will be automatically notified. This means no time-consuming research or worries that you are sending incomplete or incorrect paperwork.
You should also avoid costly mistakes. Errors in customs paperwork can incur fines, cause delays or even cause customs to seize your shipment. Customs agencies also charge fees for physical inspections and even small errors in paperwork make the likelihood of a physical inspection higher.
All your shipping needs taken care of
Using an online freight forwarding service can doubtlessly save your business time and money, but you’ll also experience less unease and worry. With such a service, your shipment is fully taken care of from the moment you book, including all your compliance documentation. You’ll also receive outstanding customer service if you do have any concerns or queries.
This type of service frees up your time and enables you to take advantage of international business opportunities without the headaches that come with international shipping. This is why fully digital freight forwarding services are the right way forward.
As Chief Product Officer for Shipa Freight, Paul Rehmet is responsible for translating the vision of Shipa Freight into an easy-to-use online freight platform for our customers. Formerly Vice President of Digital Marketing for Agility, Paul managed Agility’s website, mobile apps, content marketing and online advertising campaigns. In his 25-year career, Paul has held various technology leadership positions with early-stage startups and Fortune 500 companies including Unisys, Destiny Web Solutions, and US Airways. Paul has a Masters in Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor of Computer Science from Brown University. Paul is based in Philadelphia.