Emergence of Digital Freight Platforms

Digital evolution of freight platforms with modern logistics technology

Digital freight platforms are online infrastructures created to carry out the process of freight forwarding with added efficiency by automating various tasks of the freight forwarder. Freight forwarding is the process of connecting shippers with logistics and transportation services to initiate the process of international shipping. Freight forwarders are service providers that facilitate containerisation and transport by mediating between the shipper and service-providing companies. Shippers hire freight forwarders when shipping goods independently across the globe is challenging. Recently, freight forwarders have started integrating technology in freight forwarding to improve operational efficiency and offer better services to the shippers. Let us know more about digital freight platforms. 

What is the digital transformation of the logistics industry? 

The logistics sector serves to carry out crucial steps in the supply chain, including containerisation and transportation of goods across the border. All logistics activities were completed manually with some help from machines and equipment. However, with digitisation, the logistics industry has undergone digital transformation. Integration of technology in various logistics processes has improved the operational efficiency of the supply chain and minimises delays in containerisation and transportation. The digital transformation of the logistics industry in recent years has been the integration of digital technologies to utilise them in enhancing and streamlining various aspects of the supply chain processes. Digitisation in logistics has had a significant impact on the logistics sector. It has become increasingly popular as stakeholders in shipping seek more efficient transportation, transparency, and ease in tracking the movement of goods from their point of origin to their designated destination. The technological transformation of the logistics industry is a continuous process that helps logistics companies improve efficiency, reduce investments, and enhance customer satisfaction. 

What are digital freight platforms? 

Freight forwarders are 3PL service providers that mediate between the shipper and the transportation company. The role of a freight forwarder is to assist the shipper with logistics and transportation by arranging for an efficient transport company that fits the shipper’s budget. The freight forwarders have begun integrating technology to offer their clients better and more reliable services through the digital freight platform.  

A digital freight platform is a digital freight marketplace for freight exchange. It is a technological infrastructure built online to connect shippers, carriers, freight brokers, and other stakeholders across the global logistics and transportation industry. The digital freight platforms are usually built by the digital freight forwarders to utilise various digital technologies, such as cloud-based logistics management, GPS, and IoT in shipping to streamline the logistics operations. The main aim of the digital freight platform is to optimise logistics and transportation activities by matching available freight with a suitable transportation capacity. Digital freight platforms have gained popularity in recent years due to their agility, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness in logistics and transportation. It also helps improve communication between the shippers and the transport companies, leading to a more connected and responsive supply chain. 

What is the digital freight forwarding process? 

The traditional freight forwarding process is upgraded using various technologies to streamline logistics and transportation. By streamlining and enhancing the operational efficiency of traditional freight forwarding activities using digital technologies, freight forwarders can automate tasks such as negotiating shipping rates, preparing for documentation, managing cargo insurance, and customs clearances. The freight forwarding process entails coordinating and managing the successful international shipping of goods to their destination. Logistics service providers aim to improve supply chain efficiency, visibility, and communication by integrating digital tools and platforms in the freight forwarding process. It helps in navigating the complexities of international trade. 

  1. Online bookingsShippers across the globe can benefit from digital freight forwarding by using digital platforms to request and receive instant online quotes for freight services. Digital freight forwarders allow shippers to enter their shipping details and receive real-time pricing by offering navigable and user-friendly interfaces. By comparing various prices online, shippers can easily book freight services online. 
  2. Managing documents– Shippers, stakeholders and logistics service providers can exchange shipping documents electronically using digital platforms. These electronic documents include bills of lading, receipts, invoices, customs documentation, or other related paperwork. Using electronic systems, document management becomes more straightforward and paperless.  
  3. Real-time tracking- Shippers can track the location and status of shipments using digital freight platforms. They offer real-time tracking in shipping where shippers can track the movement of goods throughout the supply chain. Supply chain transparency helps in proactive problem-solving in case of shipping accidents and enhances communication. 
  4. Automating customs clearances– The automated systems used by digital freight forwarders are leveraged by technology to improve and streamline customs clearance processes. It allows shippers to generate and submit customs documentation online so that container rollover in shipping can be avoided, which is caused by delays in documentation. 
  5. Choosing shipping carriers– Digital freight platforms facilitate shippers new to the trade business by providing a carrier database based on metrics, rates, performance, routes, and reliability. Shippers and freight forwarders can select the most suitable shipping carriers to carry out cost-effective and safe shipping. 

Benefits of digital freight platforms 

The advantages of digital freight platforms are as follows- 

  1. Automation of the digital freight forwarding process helps save time by improving agility in operations. Tasks such as documentation and booking conducted traditionally took more time. 
  2. It assists proactive decision-making by offering real-time visibility to freight forwarders and shippers. Risk assessment and management can be done by tracking the location and status of shipments. 
  3. Shippers can get better rates by analysing the shipping carriers on the digital freight platforms. 
  4. It offers global connectivity by bringing together freight forwarders, shipping carriers and stakeholders worldwide to facilitate international shipping. 
  5. It improves environmental sustainability by optimising shipping routes, reducing paper-based documentation and lowering fuel consumption that releases shipping emissions. 

What trends can be observed in the evolution of digital freight platforms? 

Digital freight platforms are evolving by integrating various technologies in the supply chain. Let us learn more about how technology benefits digital freight platforms. 

  1. Cloud technology– Instead of storing databases in systems, cloud technology leverages users by uploading all data to the cloud. Digital freight platforms use cloud technology to allow shippers and freight forwarders to experience greater scalability, accessibility, and real-time information sharing. Cloud-based solutions in logistics allow easier integration with systems across the globe. 
  2. Blockchain technology– It is a digital ledger offering supply chain transparency and reliability. Shippers and freight forwarders use blockchain technology in the shipping industry to conduct secure transactions and create tamper-proof records. Shippers can also track the status of their assets using blockchain. 
  3. Data analytics– Data collected from shipping carriers, shippers, and freight forwarders is added to the cloud and can be used to conduct big data analytics in shipping from the same. Digital freight platforms use these massive chunks of information to perform AI and machine learning analytics to filter predictive insights. It helps in supply chain planning, optimising shipping routes, and demand forecasting based on market conditions. 
  4. Artificial intelligence (AI)- Artificial intelligence technologies help automate the various processes in digital freight forwarding. Making data-driven decisions, using AI-powered chatbots to resolve queries, route management, and AI-based predictive maintenance help improve freight forwarding efficiency and offer better customer services. 

These advantages and trends in digital freight platforms benefit the shippers and freight forwarders in international shipping. 

LOTUS Containers is a shipping container service provider that sells and leases different types of shipping containers. We offer a variety of containers ranging from dry van containers, flat rack containers, and open-top containers to reefer containers. So if you want to purchase shipping containers, connect with us.

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