Digitalization is coming to the global logistics industry.
In recent years there’s been much talk about being digitalized, or becoming digitalized, or the unspoken threat of what will happen to providers who don’t digitalize. Digitalization has become a magic word. But there’s been little said about what, specifically, digitalization will actually mean. And, more importantly, what it will mean to the end Customer – the Shipper and the Consignee, the Importer and the Exporter, the Buyer and the Seller? Where’s the magic? Let’s take a look.
First and foremost, the end Customer will have hands-on involvement in how their business is handled by their digitalized logistics provider. Their digital experience will be as easy and transparent as it is in any e-Marketplace or website.
It begins with their Customer Profile. The Customer will be able to log on to the front end of their digitalized provider’s system to look at their profile, and how they are set up in their provider’s system. Making sure things are set up correctly and information is kept updated is the first step to ensuring that the supply chain moves smoothly. Remember: 90% of all logistics delays stem from mistakes in setting up and processing the shipment.
The Customer will be able to edit and maintain a significant amount of the data in their own profile. They could update their address when they move, or add a new location when they open a new office. They could add the contact details for new members of their team. Why wait for someone at the logistics provider to enter this data? We live in a time of e-Commerce where we already do all these things ourselves because it is so much quicker and easier to get right the first time.
The Customer will also be able to see much more data, quickly available and easy to look up, on a “Read Only” interface:
• Their current and historical pricing rates: Think how much easier it will be for the Customer to tell their own Accounting Department to just log in and see the rates first hand, instead of requesting an updated rate sheet and then forwarding it to them. Does anyone like this kind of administrative work?
• Their accounting data: How much is the shipment going to cost? Can I see my invoice? Can I see all of my outstanding invoices? Can I see how much I’ve spent over the past months or years? How many days of credit have I been given?
The Customer’s digitalized experience continues with booking and managing shipments and their associated data.
Rates and Allocations go hand-in-hand at this time of tight space. The end Customer will be able to look at their allocations, book their allocations, see what space they can get for each rate, and how well the logistics provider has performed over the past weeks and months in providing that space consistently.
The Customer can then click on a rate and book a shipment in an easy-to-manage collaborative online interface that reduces key stroking, since all the critical data is already in the updated Customer Profile and they can see the rate they need to ship against. Even better, that booking is instantly accepted and confirmed as long as it is within the boundaries of the allocation that was committed to. Predictability is nice to have, especially when that predictability can be pushed out around the world!
The end Customer will be able to see all their shipments in transit, with Track & Trace visibility and reliable updates of milestone events as the cargo moves along the course of its journey. Tracking comes from multiple sources to insure that there are no fall-throughs in getting the data. Sources include satellite tracking and direct connections to railroads, direct data feeds and input from consolidators, carriers, truckers, warehousemen and other logistics vendors along the supply chain, and Customs Entry Clearance Status provided directly by the Customs Agency at destination.
Today, when we shop for goods online, we can already cost, manage and track our orders. The ease of these interactions is why we like e-Commerce so much and why e-Commerce is growing so quickly. Trade Tech feels safe in predicting this ease, transparency and control are exactly what the Logistics End Customer wants, and that they will have it available to them in the digitalized customer experience of the future.