More than 24 million twenty-foot equivalent containers (TEUs) are circulating the world at any given moment. It is no wonder then that even the smallest issue can have enormous ripple effects delaying shipments around the world for hours, days, or even weeks at a time.

Within this complex supply chain of global logistics, freight forwarding companies are working hard to manage and mitigate these delays for their customers. Described by the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) as the "architects of transport" these ‘architects’ take over the difficult responsibility of transporting customers goods – managing logistics so their customers can focus on other parts of their business.

As such, it is imperative that each step in the movement of goods is simplified and visible, with freight forwarders resting easy with the knowledge of exactly where the shipment is, every step of the way.

The Importance of Visibility to Freight Forwarders

According to a recent study from the American Trucking Association, 75% of shippers reported that visibility is a top priority in their supply chain. This importance boils down to the fact that, with any lapses in visibility, there is a greater risk for freight forwarders to encounter delays and bottlenecks down the line.

Delays can unfortunately derail even the most straightforward and streamlined supply chains. For rail shipments with a predicted transit time of one week, the average delay time stands at 27 hours, adding over a day to the transit of one link in the supply chain. These types of delays, if paired with poor supply chain visibility, can put freight forwarders at greater risk of bearing costly charges.

As reported by Shipping and Freight Resource, “Customers today require authentic and visual data to see how their products are moving, identify bottlenecks in their supply chain, and correct for where avoidable costs like demurrage, detention, and storage are being incurred.”

Demurrage, detention, or storage charges can occur when freight forwarders are caught by surprise by changes or hiccups in the supply chain. These disruptions could be due to many distinct factors; such as weather, human error, traffic, or poor communication – but whatever the reason, limited visibility can magnify these issues unnecessarily.

Visibility for Resilience

Though disruptions and delays are never 100% avoidable, freight forwarders can mitigate risk and bake resilience into their logistics when they commit to improved supply chain visibility. By maintaining a bird's eye view and tracking their customers' shipment every step of the way, freight forwarders can react quickly to limit the impact of disruptions and avoid additional charges.

In a 2022 supply chain visibility study conducted by Accenture, a clear correlation between visibility and resilience was found. For example, in interviewing 30 leading supply chain executives they found those with improved supply chain visibility tended experience less impact on their revenue, profitability, and share price performance; even when faced with logistical disruptions. This study demonstrates that by increasing supply chain visibility freight forwarders are able to respond with greater foresight, mitigating the financial and timely costs of disruptions that are all but inevitable in this time of political, economic, and environmental unrest.

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Partnering with Visibility Specialists for a Competitive Edge

It is common that freight forwarders already work with suppliers that have tools to promote visibility within their supply chains, they just need to capitalise upon the offers available. If not, partnering with a visibility specialist allows freight forwarders have the flexibility and foresight to care for their customers' shipments like never before.

Visibility tools utilise digitisation, to provide real-time supply chain transparency in collaboration with ocean carriers, banks, warehouses, land transport, customs agents, and more. Committed to expediting global movement, these visibility providers are increasingly able to connect freight forwarders with a network of relevant supply chain agents – easing communication and ensuring a more seamless digital experience.

With the agility to act when delays occur by rerouting goods and choosing new paths, whether it be ocean, land, or air; investing in improved supply chain visibility means that freight forwarders who have prioritised improved supply chain visibility will have an edge on the market, as they will be more future-fit and resilient than their competitors.

By working with visibility tools freight forwarders can gain and retain the trust of their customers through clear communication and transparency, proving to their customers that they will go out of their way to make sure their products arrive safely and on time, by tracking every step of the way.

Future-proof freight forwarders know that working with a provider of visibility services and tools will allow them to offer the best possible experience for their customer. The freight forwarders investing in visibility will increase their resilience in unstable times, all while gaining and retaining the trust of their customers.

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