According to data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)1, despite economic disruptions from COVID-19, global trade on the whole held up relatively well in 2020 and moved on to greater strength in 2021.

For example, in the first quarter of 2021, the value of global trade in goods and services grew by about 4 per cent quarter-over-quarter, and around 10 percent year-on-year. Looking forward, the UNCTAD expects global trade to continue growing, forecasting it to reach US$6.6 trillion in the second quarter of 2021, about 3 percent higher than the pre-pandemic levels of 2019.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link

Despite this, as the saying goes – a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. And when it comes to global supply chains, there remains persistent risk and ongoing disruptions.

From a shortage in shipping containers, to skyrocketing rates, congestion at international ports, and backlogs looming over the peak holiday shipping period, it’s clear that a return to ‘normal’ won’t be happening any time soon.

On top of this, the pandemic was catalyst for logistics leaders to reimagine their business-as-usual environment – shifting their workforce to large scale remote working, rapidly automating processes and accelerating the use of real-time data to drive decision making.

Consequently, many logistics leaders are looking at how they can continue to prioritize their digital transformation initiatives, and in turn, better adapt to new and uncertain market conditions.

A solid digital strategy is your foundation for success

So how are successful logistics companies using technology to embed resilience, agility and flexibility across their business and global supply chains? For many it comes down to three key steps: Simplify, Streamline and Scale.

simplify your operations using a single platform solution

Relying on multiple, patched together systems that don’t communicate with each other is a huge risk. ​That’s because you can’t accelerate or innovate if you are lost in a complex maze of disparate, costly or unsecure systems.

Having to manually enter and transfer data between different systems and operators is time-consuming and the potential for error increases every time information is re-keyed – especially when you’re facing language, legal and localization differences. 

Using a single platform logistics solution, such as CargoWise, means everyone is working from the same database, so information that’s entered at the origin station becomes immediately available to the destination as well.

According to Tim Scharwath, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding – Freight, CargoWise’s single platform solution with real-time data accessibility, has enabled DHL Global Forwarding to deliver consistent, quality service for their customers across the globe.

“Transparency is the name of the game in our business,” says Mr Scharwath. “Our customers expect that we are able to ship something from A to B, but they also expect us to be transparent and to have detailed information about the shipment, and CargoWise always gives us that transparency.”

streamline how you interact with customers, partners and third-parties with deep integrations

While working with a globally dispersed network of customers, partners and third-party agents is part and parcel of running a logistics company, the days of having to rely on a patchwork of different software systems to do business with them is thankfully a thing of the past.  

That's because having multiple groups of people working across disparate systems, locations, languages and currencies can significantly reduce your visibility, and create low-quality shipment data and time-consuming, manual workarounds.

CargoWise’s deep integration interfaces allow you to exchange data and status updates with internal or external parties at the same time from a single global platform.

According to Mohammed Sleeq, Chief Digital Officer at Aramex, the configurability and automations made available through CargoWise’s deep integrations have enabled them to quickly deliver value to their customers in a changing global environment.

“We really wanted to hit the market with a solution that can deliver value on day one of the implementation,” says Mr Sleeq. “We made our decision simply because of the best practices that CargoWise offers, and the out-of-the-box solutions and integrations that come with the platform. The results will be a high ramp up of business benefits that will be felt across all the freight community of Aramex,” he added.

scale globally and drive business continuity via secure and reliable cloud technology

Logistics companies are under increased pressure to adapt to new ways of servicing their customers while handling the shift to large-scale remote working. This presents several challenges for companies who have on-premise software systems, which have at times been inaccessible due to extensive lockdowns. 

CargoWise’s cloud technology ensures data is accessible from one secure, centralized location, meaning global logistics companies no longer have to run multiple platforms, which in-turn reduces the need to re-key data or rely on tedious workarounds.

In times of uncertainty, our pay-as-you-use transaction model facilitated by the cloud is immensely valuable, ensuring logistics companies can scale their expenditure relative to temporary and unpredictable changes to usage volumes and income. What’s more, the ability to deploy upgrades or patches to cloud-based software can be done without requiring costly onsite resources, helping you eliminate unscheduled and expensive downtime.

According to Daphne Ma, General Manager of Sanco International, the company’s decision to embrace a cloud-based service and rollout CargoWise in 2019, meant they were ahead of the curve when COVID-19 hit.

“With many of our customers, employees, and partners scattered all over the country during the pandemic, CargoWise's cloud-based model facilitated seamless communication and collaboration with our network,” Ms Ma said.

“We were able to communicate with each other around the world in real-time and could continue to provide uninterrupted high-quality logistics services to their customers. This alleviated much of the panic and uncertainty experienced by many in the industry during this time,” she concluded. 

1United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Global Trade Update, May 2021

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