By Soham Chokshi, CEO and Co-Founder – Shipsy
According to Bain & Co., riding on the back of its whopping 350 million customer base, Southeast Asia (SEA) is poised to leapfrog China to become the fastest-growing digital economy in APAC. Hence, there is an impending need for the region to expedite digital transformation goals to transition from a domestic economy to an international one.
Due to an all-time-high internet and smartphone penetration, rising cross-border eCommerce traffic, and a growing portfolio of online goods on various digital channels, the region is set to achieve USD 360B in eCommerce value by 2025.
Ultimately, the growing demand for cross-border eCommerce will put tremendous pressure on global supply chain networks. Manufacturers, eCommerce providers, and retailers will partner with multiple logistics service providers to ensure SLA adherence, cost efficiency, and delivery agility. Then there is also a dire need for businesses in this region to make logistics operations customer-centric.
According to research, 34% of consumers in SEA are not happy with their eCommerce delivery experience while over 90% of customer complaints are associated with late deliveries and poor communication about the status of deliveries. But that’s not all. The challenges in cross-border eCommerce deliveries sprawl over processes inefficiencies that make shipping and cost and labour-intensive affair. Unfortunately, huge investments in person-hours and capital still don’t guarantee a smooth shipment experience.
Roadblocks in Cross-border Shipments
There are multiple types of challenges in cross-border logistics and can be classified as per the three shipment stages: pre-shipment, shipment execution, and post-shipment.
Common pre-shipment stage challenges comprise choosing a shipping line, getting quotes from freight forwarders, communicating with buyers and getting the paperwork sorted over the emails. This stage is prone to major cost leakages, mostly due to manual negotiations, lack of insights into the current market rates, and time-consuming communication over emails.
Post freight procurement, shipment execution begins. It entails export haulage, customs clearance, documentation handling, and most importantly shipment tracking. Once again, manual processes and lack of visibility over shipment status are major setbacks at this stage. Moreover, this stage can also cause a host of cost leakages due to a lack of insights into detention and demurrage. The absence of a centralized view of the shipment progress makes the supply chain reactive as opposed to proactive.
Post-shipment stage or the extant shipping process concludes once the exporter receives the payment and the authorized dealer bank of the exporter acknowledges the payment and closes the transaction.
Ensuring Seamless Cross-border Trade: Technology as an Enabler
Here’s how a smart logistics management platform can tide over various shipment-related challenges. Let’s also glance at how such tools can facilitate easy 3PL management to make cross-border eCommerce deliveries efficient, scalable, and more transparent.
Drives Efficient Freight Procurement
RFQ management makes it easier for businesses to float Request for Quotes (RFQs) with multiple vendors using a single click. It also allows companies to compare quotes from all these vendors under a single dashboard, access historical port-pairwise data, assess deviations from the current market rate, and procure the best freight rates with intelligent bidding. Smart logistics management tools decrease freight costs by 6%.
Ensures Easy Document Handling
Intelligent 3PL management solutions completely digitize document handling and SLA management. They reduce investment in manual processes since all the documents are uploaded online by the stakeholders for direct and easy access. Such tools reduce manual ERP data entries by 65% and investment in person-hours for shipment handling by 56%. Moreover, real-time updates of the container’s location are available on the dashboard, which can be shared with the customers as well.
Enables Seamless Shipment Visibility
Siloed point solutions and legacy systems hinder the seamless flow of information between supply chain participants like freight forwarders, last-mile providers, carriers, etc. SaaS-based logistics management solutions tide over such challenges by integrating communications across different platforms, such as calls, emails, texts, and social media. This way, all the information about every package across different carriers is available to every relevant stakeholder at all times. Having end-to-end visibility over information over customer location helps resolve incoming queries faster, decreases ETA SLA breach by 37%, and can increase customer satisfaction by 64%.
Real-time and automated alerts for key milestones also help bring down incidental costs up to 34%. Besides, Smart 3PL management solutions offer granular visibility into the delays and exceptions, to avoid unnecessary cost leakages.
Real-Time Insights and Analytics
Another crucial benefit offered by the 3PL management solutions is an analytics and reporting with proper visualization. Easy-to-understand reports that readily provide actionable insights into all the processes, and foster better and strategic business decision-making.
While comparatively lower operational costs impel merchants and businesses towards Southeast Asia as their next centre of business, driving digital transformation leveraging smart logistics management tools will be crucial for businesses when it comes to taking operations to a truly global scale.