A new report on the freight services industry by Accenture says that two things separate the best performing freight companies from other shipping companies- mastery of standardized processes and the use of integrated IT.
By applying automated processes, companies can cut the costs of freight transport, reduce errors and accelerate speed to market.
Meanwhile, integrated IT creates transparency for both freight companies and their customers.
Customers looking to arrange shipping have increasingly high expectations of transparency. This has been created by their experience of other markets online. For example, passenger airlines now routinely offer flexibility, choice and transparency.
Few companies in the freight forwarding industry are able to meet these expectations yet.
The only way of providing the speed and agility that customers want is to make significant changes to IT systems and put technology at the heart of the business. This can enable, for example, regular freight transport updates to customers.
The freight companies that make the investment in IT and technology will be the ones that prosper in future.
Another way that a freight services company can use IT to deliver what their customers want is to provide advice and guidance. With the growth of China import and trade with other emerging markets, many UK businesses are moving into international freight for the first time. These businesses want to be able to turn to their shipping company for a guiding hand. So as well as providing advice by telephone, the smart company is making increasing use of email newsletters to help provide the general information their customers want.
And by making use of a virtual private network, freight services companies can offer flexible working to staff, so that staff can work just as effectively where they are at the time. This can mean a faster, better freight service for customers as well as making it easier for companies to provide the 24/7 service customers increasingly demand.
In future, as broadband speeds increase, it is quite likely that shipping companies will make regular use of video conferencing in their discussions with customers, even using video to introduce agents in their network in other countries, making their freight services feel more personal.
Through the integration and imaginative use of IT, a freight company can stay ahead of the game, giving them customers what they want.