I’ve been working in the supply chain management industry for over 25 years in countries across Europe, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. However, I still found myself amazed at how truly global our business has become while I was at the WCA First Conference this week.
My table at the show opening cocktail reception resembled a United Nations delegation. I chatted with attendees from Ghana, Norway, Lebanon, Indonesia, England, Ireland, and Egypt!
Along with sharing a love for football, and the English Premier League (and an almost unanimous dislike of Arsenal), we also agreed that today’s continuously expanding global supply chains present both incredible challenges, and new opportunities, for all international freight forwarders.
After dozens of meetings and conversations, I’ve come away with three key lessons:
- Lesson #1 – Shippers need real time visibility: This has topped the agenda for most supply chain executives for years now, yet a majority continue to struggle with a lack of visibility. It’s not a luxury; it’s a business necessity. Achieving a 24/7 view into the movement of goods along the entire global supply chain is critical to improving the entire company’s supply chain agility, and enabling it to provide the high level of traceability its customers demand.
- Lesson #2 – 3PLs need to provide shippers with real time visibility: Shippers expect 3PLs to have the capability to provide visibility into the movements of orders, shipments, and inventory as a priority. They expect this visibility to be complete, accurate and in real time. These expectations of visibility extend upstream, from before goods have become freight, and downstream from the distribution center to a store shelf or customer.
- Lesson #3 – Buy, don’t build: A significant majority of the companies I met with have existing in-house platforms to automate processes, such as tracking shipments. However, they don’t want to keep building and adding new modules to provide their customers with real time visibility, as that development cycle can take months and often years, and that’s why we developed the Gravity cloud based platform to integrate seamlessly with existing systems. We provide freight forwarders and 3PLs with a modern UX that enables them to focus on meeting shippers’ demands for consistently high customer service levels, not developing and maintaining software.
The demands and expectations shippers now place on their logistics partners have never been higher. The pressure is intense — and that’s a good thing!
Freight forwarders have the opportunity to elevate themselves from their current roles as trusted logistics providers, to becoming invaluable business partners that help shippers achieve their broad business goals.