SMBs face unique challenges when catering to online customers. The costs of setting up a logistics department are steep, and the low margins do not justify an investment. As a result, SMBs are forced to turn to third-party logistics providers and freight forwarders.
While traditional freight forwarders are known to offer excellent services, the modern consumer’s changing preferences leave them ill-equipped to serve customer needs. Visibility and transparency are all-important to modern consumers, and a freight forwarder that cannot offer these is unlikely to help an SMB expand its business.
Digital freight forwarders are plugging this gap by helping SMBs boost visibility in logistics. Here are some ways they’re doing it.
Real-time status updates
Modern SMBs ship goods worldwide, and this poses logistics challenges. For starters, customers conditioned by next-day shipping are unlikely to wait for packages to arrive in a week. Also, the same customers are unlikely to pay exorbitant amounts for shipping, thanks to the wave of free shipping offered by eCommerce giants.
In the above cases, traditional freight forwarders often leave SMBs with less than adequate insight into shipment statuses and other critical logistics data due to their lack of technology and real-time updates. As a result, customers aren’t aware of shipment statuses, and the slightest delay can create a negative customer experience that can be hard for an SMB to recover from.
A digital freight forwarding solution is embedded with technology from the get-go. These solutions prioritize features such as seamless integration with business dashboards, delivering real-time visibility into delivery data, and multiplatform access to assist shipping management. This brings full visibility into not just package locations, but also into document statuses, customs requirements, and other regulatory hurdles every shipper has to overcome.
An SMB can share these insights with their customers, creating a more professional customer experience that builds trust and increases the chance of repeat business.
Transparent shipping options
A good digital freight forwarder relies on experience and contacts in the logistics sector to offer cost-effective prices. Also, their relationships in the industry give SMBs a wide range of choices when shipping goods.
Since most consumers won’t pay beyond a certain threshold for shipping, SMBs must carefully choose their transportation options before shipping goods. A digital freight forwarder centralizes all available options onto a single dashboard, helping SMBs mix and match carriers to create a cost-effective shipping plan.
For instance, SMBs can choose the right air, sea, and land transport options when creating a delivery plan. Along with route information, they can also view all costs such as customs tariffs and carrier costs, along with insurance needs, when opting for a plan. By comparing these costs to delivery timelines, SMBs can evaluate the viability of a shipping route.
By presenting costs transparently and upfront, digital freight forwarders remove the guesswork when planning routes and estimating delivery timelines. As a result, SMBs can communicate clearly with their customers, giving them reliable delivery dates and times.
A digital freight forwarder’s local connections also enable them to execute last-mile deliveries seamlessly. SMBs can tell their customers when to expect their shipment, down to the approximate hour of the day. These qualities help SMBs deliver memorable customer experiences, increasing the likelihood of repeat orders and more support from customers during challenging times.
Wide choice of delivery locations
A common sticking point SMBs encounter when working with a freight forwarder is the lack of shipping locations available worldwide. Most freight forwarders work in specific regions, meaning an SMB must work with multiple service providers to serve customers globally.
Digital freight forwarders backed by large shipping companies tend to offer multiple locations globally, removing the need to manage several logistics relationships. When combined with benefits such as deep experience, local partnerships, and transparent pricing, an SMB can serve more customers and quickly let them know about delivery schedules.
For instance, an SMB can calculate shipping costs reliably and display them for customers before they place an order. These improvements help boost customer experiences and prevent cancellations and other hassles.
As a result, an SMB gains more visibility over the areas it can serve and can use its resources on either expanding or focusing on specific regions worldwide.
Manage freight from anywhere
A digital freight forwarder is online-first. This means an SMB can access shipping quotes and other relevant data from anywhere, whether a desktop or mobile. As a result, managing shipments, accepting quotes, and handling customer queries is simple.
For instance, a digital freight forwarder can offer real-time shipping alerts. An SMB can either connect to the freight forwarder’s platform via API and display that information on a custom dashboard or manually forward shipping information to the customer.
Either way, customers are always in the loop and are not dependent on an SMB’s ability to be present on a particular device. In turn, an SMB can use any device to manage a critical part of its business at all times.
Transparency is critical
Logistics success revolves around an SMB’s ability to deliver transparency and visibility to its customers. An SMB might be forced to work with a third-party service provider, but this hardly means they must sacrifice visibility. The right digital freight forwarder can boost an SMB’s business immeasurably, giving them access to more customers worldwide.