Many freight forwarders have seen a drop in demand for their services since COVID-19 locked most of the world down. 2020 showed us how fragile our international global economy could be.
Even as lockdowns begin to wane, we are likely to continue to see the fallout of this pandemic into 2021.
How we live our lives will change, and how freight forwarders operate will evolve to meet the coming challenges of the post-COVID-19 reality.
We at BlueX offer a pathway to ensure freight forwarders can effectively service customers and remain competitive in a market that is fast changing towards a digital transformation.
There is no doubt that COVID-19 has slowly chipped away at the demand for freight forwarders. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the freight forwarding industry was expected to grow by a modest margin of 2.5%. Instead, according to Statista, the best-case scenario in 2020 could see the industry contracting by 2%, with the worst-case scenario seeing the industry contracting by up to 7.5%.
There’s no doubt about it, the shipping industry is in the midst of a recession that looks to surpass the 2008 Financial Crisis in terms of the economic downturn.
However, recovery will follow the conclusion of this latest economic crisis. What matters for freight forwarders now is how they will prepare for the post-COVID-19 shipping boom that will present new challenges.
While it remains difficult to determine when international economic activity will return to normal, one thing is for sure – freight forwarders will need to change their operational structures.
Freight forwarders need to begin planning for the post-COVID-19 normal. Nobody in the industry is sure what this “new normal” is, but challenges may include:
- A lack of space onboard vessels due to demurrage, detention, and blank sailings
- A need for digitalized services as customers could remain restricted from travel
- A lack of automation in freight forwarder operations may hinder recovery
The imbalance of containers and equipment will require freight forwarders to secure space guarantees to prevent carriers from rolling over customer shipments.
The rapid digitalization of shipping is part of the new shipping reality that freight forwarders need to plan for. Customers now more than ever will expect instant quotes online, as well as access to up-to-date information via digital platforms with automated processes.
Secured space and digitalization are two features that we at BlueX understand. As industry veterans with Silicon Valley expertise, we’ve created a digital pathway for freight forwarders to meet the challenges in 2020 and beyond.
BlueX offers a variety of solutions that can help your business meet the challenges of the post-COVID-19 reality.
With automated contract rates through EDI/API integrations, to gain up-to-date rate information, the BlueX ShipperX Solution gives you a pathway to digitalize your freight forwarding operations.
1. Secured Space with GreenX During the Post-COVID-19 Boom
Blank sailings, demurrage, and detention are causing a shortage of containers and equipment that might hinder the post-COVID-19 recovery.
In the past, rates were weighted as the most important element behind making a booking.
This will change. Instead, access to secured space is the key element to distinguishing yourself from other freight forwarders. This is essential in a marketplace that is viewed by customers as being “commoditized.”
As our partner, Evergreen Line’s GreenX platform offers freight forwarders secured space. With this service, you’ll be able to offer a space guarantee on your customer bookings, giving you an edge against competitors.
2. Digitalized Contract Freight Rates with Faster Bookings
The BlueX Rate Management System (RMS) allows freight forwarders to digitally request contract rates directly from carriers through the BlueX platform.
The RMS gives freight forwarders the ability to save time and have access to the most up-to-date rates without the need for carriers to input any changes in rates manually.
While many freight forwarders continue the traditional way of requesting contract quotes via phone calls and emails, BlueX users get quotes in seconds, not hours or days.
The BlueX RMS is currently only open to Evergreen Line customers that have signed up for GreenX.
We are continuing to partner with ocean carriers, and if you’re interested in accessing your customers’ contract rates, make sure to sign up for the BlueX Shipper Ambassador Program.
By requesting your rates to be on BlueX, we can add your carriers and offer a greater variety of ocean carrier contract and spot rates on our platform.
3. Access to Accurate and Up-to-date Shipping Information
Having access to up-to-date information directly from carriers is essential. While other freight forwarders can wait hours, or even days to review update rate sheets, BlueX allows you to access your customers’ most recent contract rates online.
This also removes the anxiety of wondering if you should’ve clicked refresh again or asked for the most up-to-date rate in case they changed again.
Avoid the risk of misquoting a rate and get back to your customers with information from our platform to ensure customer satisfaction and differentiate yourself from the competition.
4. Access to Trade Services
As previously mentioned, our platform gives freight forwarders access to ancillary services through our Freight Commerce Platform (FCP). These third-party logistics services (trade services) allow you to book customer cargo on one digital platform. As we continue to grow our partnerships, we plan to include the following trade services in the future: customs, insurance, and payment terms.
Crises are nothing new in the world of ocean shipping. What is new is the new normal after COVID-19.
Preparing for this new reality will be paramount for the success of your enterprise. As freight forwarders continue to be challenged with external and internal factors, you must begin to plan for the future.
That’s where BlueX comes in with our ShipperX Solution. We offer a pathway to enhance your operational efficiencies to offer services that will drive better customer service.
By joining our platform, you can differentiate yourself from competitors that will continue to sell traditional services to a market that is gearing towards digital transformation.