Customers who are looking for freight forwarding services desire two things the most: fast shipping service and a reliable freight forwarding company to work with. However, no matter how hard many freight forwarders try to make their customers happy, logistics processes are so complex that they undermine these efforts. Human errors are made, making your company seem unreliable. Wait times are increased for some reason, making your services less competitive. Freight forwarders big and small struggle to identify the most promising areas of improvement. Unfortunately, when they fail, they often choose to do nothing instead. You don’t have to be one of them.
In my experience, if you want to improve fast across all departments in your business, there is one area every freight forwarding company should focus on, and that’s preventing that the same data is entered more than once. Also known as ‘double data entry’.
What is double data entry, and does it damage the quality of your services? Let me explain with a simple example.
Let’s say you’re a freight forwarder. Does your shipment processing look like this?
- First you enter the shipment data into your own booking system.
- Then you must either enter the same data into the booking system of your chosen ocean carrier, or send it to them by email.
- When you receive cargo updates from your ocean carrier, do you have to manually enter these updates into your system – again?
This is a classic double data entry scenario. For many companies, it’s a daily routine. Companies who practice it for a long period of time often accept that this is how things should be done, and they never truly understand its negative effects.
You see, each and every time you enter the same data twice in two different systems, you increase the risk of making a costly human error. One small typo and one tired employee working overtime are enough to do significant damage. Due to improper processing, a shipment may get delayed, damaged, or even lost. Not only that, but you’re also wasting precious time doing the same task twice. That’s the time you’re not investing in improving other important areas, such as customer support.
Every day, good companies lose customers for perfectly preventable reasons.
If you sense that there’s a solution coming up, you’re right. That solution is called:
🖇️🖇️ SYSTEM INTEGRATION 🖇️🖇️
System integration is exactly what its name says it is: it’s the way of making two separate, disconnected information systems ‘talk’ to each other and exchange data in an automated way, via a piece of software. For example, the booking system of a freight forwarding company can be integrated with the system of an ocean freight carrier, via something we in the IT business call an API (which stands for ‘application programming interface’). An API is a piece of software that makes sure that the data you entered once into your own system appears in another system, and vice versa. All without any human intervention, and without the risk of data getting mistyped or lost.
So, a system integration via an API frees you from having to send and receive the same piece of data in two or three different places. When your system uses an API to talk to the systems of other companies in the logistics chain, you can stop double-checking or triple-checking every piece of information you enter. This prevents your employees from making common human errors, making your service of higher quality as a result.
In my next posts, I will go into more details about how system integration and APIs work, and which types of logistics companies are the most suitable candidates to consider implementing them. Expect to hear a lot about the many solutions to the most common problems.
In the meantime, if you have questions about connecting cargo booking systems, ask in the comments.