Imagine a world where 3PLs and shippers can conduct their business with little to no disruption.
Business is booming. cargo is moved. Communication is fast and clear – no more silos. Individuals can combine their own expertise with technology. Visibility is transparent from start to finish. And all of this success is ultimately reflected in the forwarding company’s customers.
When it comes to booking and warehousing, these processes are historically outdated across the industry. But new trucking technologies are emerging to eliminate these problems for shippers and 3PLs alike.
This imaginary world does not have to be imaginary.
With the sheer volume of commercial documents and invoices that must be presented to customs and government regulated agencies around the world, the lack of technology has resulted in a fragmented industry, according to Amna Shah, senior consultant at AHS Consulting Inc. Data entry Reading these documents has become incredibly mundane and takes up an enormous amount of time in the company.
“All these carriers had to sit around and do this manual data entry,” Shah said. “Before you had your CSV [comma separated values] Files you might upload or your OCR [optical character recognition] technology, people just had to enter that data manually.”
According to Logixboard CEO Julian Alvarez, it’s no secret that trucking companies know they need to add technology and digital tools to their operations to remain competitive. It has been shown that spot solutions will not serve carriers and their customers for long.
Until the pandemic, in general, nobody knew that carriers existed. They didn’t know how their belongings got to them, according to Shah.
“In 2020, everyone was focused on shippers because they didn’t have toilet paper,” she said. “That’s when they all said, ‘Hey, we get our toilet paper through the trucking industry, so let’s do something about it.’ So now there is a lot of investment in trucking and technology is one of the biggest things.”
Now that awareness has increased and investments are being made, it is time for shippers to shift their focus to finding exceptional end-to-end digital shipping experiences that allow them to combine relationships and expertise with great technology combine, according to Alvarez.
“We believe this is the winning formula for their business and for their customers,” he said.
According to a FreightWaves article by Brian Straight, “Historically [companies] have provided this customer experience through customer service representatives. And historically this has been sufficient. However, when one enters the Amazon Effect, [now] Consumers expect instant information, real-time visibility, real-time delivery dates, complete transparency, 100% consistency and absolute predictability.
“[Today] It is becoming increasingly important for companies to offer an experience that makes the customer feel welcome and connected to your brand, while all of their core needs are met [on-time service, damage-free deliveries, access to the right data at the right time, etc.]”
This holistic customer experience can often be achieved through the consolidation of technology.
The biggest problem, according to Shah, is that many in the industry do everything differently. “Nobody talks to each other,” she says.
Two companies might have technologies that they’ve worked really well with and should be able to connect to each other, but they can’t because they’re operating in a different environment – almost competing with each other.
“And they are not competitors. They know they are not competitors,” Shah said. “They just don’t want to share their secrets. This is one of the biggest challenges in the industry. If you don’t work on your problems together or solve them together, there will never be a solution.”
By simplifying processes through the consolidation of technology, silos and bottlenecks that have always existed as new technologies emerge in the industry can be eliminated. While it’s important to streamline processes, it’s equally important to choose the right technology that allows each process to communicate with another. Otherwise chaos can break out.
According to Alvarez, Logixboard views consolidated technology as “an end-to-end, single pane-of-glass solution—one login, with everything you need in one place.”
To address industry issues, Alvarez’s company is launching a new product this quarter — Logixboard Bookings and Product Inventory Visibility.
“We have directed our efforts and focus to provide an exceptional end-to-end experience not only to carriers and brokers, but also to their customers,” said Alvarez. “By bringing bookings and warehouse visibility together with our core product, which provides document management, communications management, container and vessel tracking, as well as analytics and reporting, we are taking another major step towards consolidating technology for carriers and shippers.”
Logxiboard bookings and the product inventory visibility feature are designed for shippers to take and maintain control of the technology for themselves and their customers, creating a competitive advantage for both the carrier and the shipper. The company’s overall hope is that this new product will help solve the fragmentation of the freight forwarding process and create a controlled win-win situation for freight forwarders and their customers.
“This technology creates a differentiator for carriers,” said Alvarez. “With our product, you can bind the technology to yourself and be the point of contact for your customers.”
It’s no secret that Logixboard fits into the trucking solutions industry. But whether through these or other innovations, shippers should rethink their processes and find a consolidated technology that not only suits the business, but also de-risks silos and strengthens them as a go-to in the market.
“You should be looking for a healthy solution for what’s out there,” Shah said. “It’s high time. We have to embrace the technology as an institution in the trucking industry and face the challenges when they come. A lot of people are afraid to do things differently – that’s holding them back all the time. I think there is many fearless leaders out there, so this can happen, but someone has to take a leap of faith.”
Alvarez advised current shippers in the industry.
“‘[Forwarders] must first work with partners who are willing to help with change management. This is critical to the successful adoption of a new technology,” he said. “Second, they need to consider which solutions are having the greatest impact on their ability to win new business and scale. We’ve found that customer experience is usually a winner in the new business environment, so I think that’s often a good place to start. However, every organization has its own challenges, so there has to be an internal discussion.”