download progress © Nikita Gonin
© Nikita Gonin

Change within freight forwarding is moving at a crawl, with little incorporation of new technologies over the past decade, despite significant developments in the field.

This is the key finding of Transport Intelligence’s Global Freight Forwarding 2019 report, which lays waste to any idea of a fast-evolving sector.

“Markets and technologies have both developed significantly, but the overall landscape is broadly similar to that in the previous 10 years,” claims the report.

“There appears little drive within the sector to change things fundamentally, and the large number of parties involved in the supply chain has made visibility difficult to achieve.”

As a result of this limited visibility, “many” logistics companies have begun exploring building control towers to manage and monitor supply chains, says the report.

However, the advent of cloud computing has meant larger operators with existing legacy systems, and the associated costs, now find themselves at a disadvantage.

While the report claims traditional forwarders are not destined to be usurped by digital competition, it could happen if they fail to act on changing customer expectations.

“This will be a difficult challenge when they have invested so much in their legacy systems,” continues the report. “But if they do not prove agile in adoption of new technology, they will find they rapidly lose customers looking for visibility, quotation and easy booking that digital forwarders provide.”

Digital platforms are making a success of market penetration, with 49% of surveyed shippers citing use of online booking platforms, marketplaces, and digital forwarders.

However, the report notes that the frequency of use varies, with a little over 30% stating such platforms represent an important part of their overall shipping strategy.

And of those that only used digital platforms, two-thirds were classed as SME shippers.

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