Become a Digitized Freight Forwarder Today

Martyn Verhaegen
May 17, 2018 · 4 min read

No matter the geography your business operates in, the scale of your market, or even how many staff you have, becoming a digitized freight forwarder may be necessary, and more easily achieved than previously thought.

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We will talk about this in our upcoming white paper “Making the case for becoming a digitized freight forwarder, and tips on how to get there.” However I wanted to give you a preview of our thoughts. Please feel free to sign up and be added to our mailing list to receive the full white paper once it is released.

First, I want to differentiate the term Digitized Freight Forwarder from a Digital Freight Forwarder. While I won’t go into detail on what the differences are between a Digital Forwarder and Traditional Forwarder (JOC has a great write up which can be found here [registration required]), it is important to reconcile the two into a model that a ‘traditional’ freight forwarder can use to be more competitive in the digital space.

I believe understanding what a digital freight forwarder is, and the problems they may face joining their business models with the traditional ones can be enlightening, especially when trying to reversely reconcile the traditional model with the digital one.

The main difference I see, is with each model’s scope of business. Sure, the digital forwarder can be perfectly geared to handle business more efficiently, but only when it follows the standard workflows and with little to no exceptions beyond those built in their software and processes. They will no doubt make sure they can manage a large number of exceptions from those standard workflows. But as any traditional forwarder will tell you, the exceptions can seem virtually endless. Many digitization projects undertaken by a traditional forwarder have been injured in scope, time, and budget by trying to account for all the different exceptions that they know to exist.

From the JOC article:
In the end, the greatest challenge faced by the digital forwarder is the most obvious one: an over-reliance on digital forwarding. Whereas automation has a definite appeal, the moment something goes wrong with a shipment, technology goes out the window and people revert to that most analog of activities, speaking directly to another human. Clearly, there isn’t a logistics professional on the planet that is going to rely solely on what a website is telling them about a rolled container or a rejected automated export system submission. When things go awry, shippers want to talk to another human, and the person on the other end of the line better know what they’re talking about.

This has become more apparent because Digital Freight Forwarders are having to adjust their models to more traditional ones by taking on extra support staff to deal with exceptions. The model for a solution then, to me, must be a hybrid: the digitized freight forwarder.

The current two models (digital and traditional or asset-light and asset-heavy) are at extreme ends, but we should also not forget that there are businesses operating at various points on that spectrum. However, there is a case to be made for digital forwarders being forced to the more traditional end of the spectrum. They are taking on established customers who have certain expectations of their forwarders both in terms of customer service, and also in terms of the value-add that they can deliver.

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The Forwarder Digital Spectrum

Through Strategic digitization, the traditional forwarder can find themselves in the ideal middle of the spectrum. This can be done by implementing solutions for the demands that have driven some shippers to their digital counterparts, such as supply chain visibility, but retaining at least some of their human capital that is able to handle the exceptions their systems cannot. Saying you’re going digital can be easy, but along the digital road -many have already experienced- the main difficulty is finding a good balance. Partnerships with technology companies, such as Qwyk, that deliver solutions to meet some of these demands may help, but it will take careful planning to execute a winning digitization effort that still works with the more traditional facets of your business.

We will get more into the how of becoming a digitized freight forwarder in our upcoming white paper “Making the case for becoming a digitized freight forwarder, and tips on how to get there.” In the meantime you can continue this discussion with us by reaching out at or on Social Media.

Sign up to our mailing list and receive the full white paper once it is released.

Originally published at


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