4 Important Trends Freight Forwarders Need to Know to Prepare for 2021

Alice Zhou

December 12, 2020 • 4 minutes read

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As this year comes to a close, we’ve got a lot to reflect on from the wild ride that was 2020. From the devastating impact of COVID-19, to the ransomware cyber-attacks launched against carriers like CMA CGM, there’s been no shortage of surprises. While this year has kept all of us on our toes, it’s important for freight forwarders to understand the next up-and-coming industry trends to prepare their operations for the recovery of the logistics market. Here are the top four trends in the freight forwarding industry we, and other leaders in the sector, believe will help forwarders proactively plan for what has quickly become the new norm:

1. Retain Your Customers with CRM System

2021 Trends Customer RetentionIn order to better serve their shipper customers and keep them happy in the long term, logistics professionals are now realizing the benefits of investing in modern customer relationship management (CRM) software. At their most basic, CRM systems can automate data entry and reduce inaccuracies for freight forwarders. But those built specifically to meet the needs of shippers also have the ability to easily collaborate with other freight management tools, like a TMS. While most people have probably heard of Salesforce, there are many other leading CRM systems for freight forwarders that offer industry-specific solutions. For example, First Freight, a low-cost per-user, monthly subscription service that pushes APIs as an alternative to expensive systems integrations, was modeled after the popular software with the goal of addressing its most significant shortcomings. According to Todd Collins , First Freight’s Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, “Salesforce is too generic in logistics. People won’t click it. The Salesforce distribution model — reseller networks that charge for sector-specific customizations — doesn’t work economically for small to midsize forwarders working on tight margins.” By leveraging a cost-effective CRM solution that pulls information from multiple channels in real-time, forwarders can optimize the flow of data, increase shipping visibility, improve business intelligence, and enhance customer relationships.

2. Automate Your Workflow to Handle Tasks Accurately

2021 Trends Workflow AutomationAutomating your freight management workflow is another key trend to look out for in the freight forwarding industry. The industry’s transition toward a more customer-centric approach has paved the way for emerging workflow automation solutions to fill in the blanks for forwarders when it comes to the shipping information. “Forwarders are turning to process automation providers to turn over document management, quote requests, and customer service elements to programs that can handle those tasks more quickly and accurately,” according to Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor at JOC. In addition to increasing the speed and accuracy of your freight operations, workflow automation can also improve scalability, save money, and provide more complete visbility. 

3. Keep a Closer Eye on Your Financial Status

2021 Trends Finance AccountingBased on trending insight provided by GoFreight’s customers, if you keep a close eye on your cash flow, you’ll be able to identify the customers you want to work with and eliminate the ones who will only end up costing you. As freight rates continue to climb, forwarders should take advantage of any opportunity they can get to avoid being stuck catering to unreliable clients. This means you’ll need to actively analyze your finance and accounting processes for your logistics operations by:
  1. Monitoring shipments with negative profits.
  2. Flagging customers with bad credit.
  3. Investing in a real-time dashboard to instantly access your cash flow records.
After taking these steps, you’ll be able to easily recognize the shippers you should be prioritizing. Streamlining finance and accounting in logistics can be a little more difficult, however, when your company is divided across multiple locations. If this is the case for your organization, then you’ll also need to think about integrating a centralized accounting system. For you and your CPA, having the ability to access all of your financial information in one place is critical. 

4. Protect Your System with High-level Security

2021 Trends System SecurityWith the increasing digitalization of documentation and the rising adoption of cloud-based freight forwarding software, malware threats against cybersecurity are at an all-time high in the logistics industry. Despite the many advantages of advancing technology, one major downside of having a remote workplace is the unprecedented level of cyber risks and supply chain disruptions. While it’s crucial to be aware of these risks, a lot of forwarders might not have a basic understanding of how it all works. This is where experience and reliability come into play because a trusted cloud-based freight forwarding software provider can step in and protect forwarders from all of this chaos. To learn more about how you can jump on the leading edge of this freight forwarding trend and ensure your systems are secure, visit GoFreight.As we move forward into 2021, it’s important for freight forwarders to keep these industry trends in mind, so they can provide the level of service that will keep them ahead of the competition and ultimately lower their operating costs. 

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