Digitalization Efforts to Help Shippers Navigate Complex Supply Chain Landscape

Digitalization will remain a linchpin of success, enabling all industry stakeholders to navigate the challenges and seize the opportunities that lie ahead in this dynamic world of global trade.

Annika Adobe Stock 589591429
Annika AdobeStock_589591429

In the ever-evolving landscape of global trade, expect to see a surge in trade activity in 2024, underpinned by a confluence of factors driving increased demand and technological advancements. Freight forwarders, customs brokers and shippers will find themselves at a critical juncture, compelled to invest in digitalization efforts to effectively navigate the complexities of a rapidly evolving supply chain landscape.

Global trade to increase in 2024: How digitalization can help food and beverage as demand skyrockets

According to the International Monetary Fund’s chief economist, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, expect to see disinflation happening this year. Yet, this disinflation journey may be slower than initial expectations. Regardless, with a softening in inflation, this means prices of goods will go down, and this naturally brings about a greater consumer demand for goods.

Supply chain digitalization: Plan with greater accuracy, yield better profits

Digitalization holds the key to unlocking unprecedented levels of efficiency, agility and transparency within the supply chain ecosystem, empowering industry stakeholders to stay ahead of the curve and deliver superior value to their customers.

The power of artificial intelligence (AI) shines when it comes to customs declaration filings. Through advanced optical character recognition (OCR) and machine learning (ML) capabilities, AI-powered trade management platforms automate the process of filing complex trade documents, reducing the frequency and severity of errors. This comes from a reduced need for manual data entry and error alerts that prompt the user of incorrect customs declaration values and formats, resulting in more accurate filings. As a result, expect fewer delays and faster deliveries, along with reduced manpower cost and unnecessary fines.

Traceability, security of cargo and the accompanying documents are also enhanced as AI automates their identification, classification and verification. With greater visibility of where a particular cargo is at any point, in real-time, freight forwarders, customs brokers and shippers can communicate with their respective stakeholders quicker. This allows businesses to be more agile to respond to contingencies and forecasts, with greater precision, when the consumables are ready to go to market.

There are available digital solutions that allow only one entry to be filed to export to multiple countries, which eliminates the need to re-fill customs data for shipments into each country, saving much time and effort. Just imagine this single-step solution allowing you to cross the borders of five countries within Southeast Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam). This means it will be far easier to export to the Southeast Asian market, which is among the world’s fastest growing economies. Complex local customs and language barriers can be easily circumvented with this handy tool, streamlining the entire process.

Digital logistics platforms offer meaningful signals which aid in making informed decisions about which vessel to select to transport cargo, based on multiple factors such as duration, timing, price and the route taken. To manage the increased trade flows, stakeholders need to employ software that boosts logistics and regulatory filing efficiency. This is especially important for the food and beverage industry which prioritizes delivery timeliness since freshness, safety and quality are key.

To stay ahead of market conditions and potential risks, it is imperative to leverage business intelligence tools that provide a holistic overview of the supply chain ecosystem. This can serve as an effective guide for adjusting stock inventories, supply chain operations and pricing strategies to optimal levels, based on expected demand and supply of the market, hence raising overall efficiency.

How to predict future trade flows, disruptions and demand

Based on historical trade volumes, digital solutions embedded with ML capabilities can effectively predict future trade volumes, trade routes, potential route disruptions, compliance risks and more. An example would be a solution that more accurately informs, for a particular time period how much more manpower will be required for shipments and customs clearance loads, how much stock to bring in, which routes to circumvent, and so on.

Market intelligence tools and dashboards can provide industry players with insight on which markets and customer segments to penetrate, focus on and which to avoid, based on supply and demand trends. With sharpened business strategy and focus derived from many data points, this encourages revenue growth.

Navigating the challenges and opportunities in global trade

Beyond its immediate benefits for operational efficiency and transparency, digitalization plays a pivotal role in forecasting future trade flows and mitigating potential disruptions within the global supply chain.

By harnessing the vast troves of data generated by digital platforms, industry stakeholders can gain valuable insights into emerging trends, market demand patterns, customs compliance risks, geopolitical risks and more, enabling them to anticipate and prepare for future challenges proactively. Predictive analytics and ML algorithms empower the tripartite to identify potential disruptions, such as port congestions and adverse weather conditions, and develop contingency plans to mitigate their impact. Furthermore, digitalization facilitates enhanced collaboration and information sharing among supply chain partners, enabling swift and coordinated responses to unforeseen events, thereby ensuring an uninterrupted flow of goods across borders.

As global trade continues to surge and supply chains grow increasingly complex, especially for the food and beverage industry, the need for freight forwarders, customs brokers and shippers to embrace digitalization as a strategic imperative has never been more pronounced. By investing in cutting-edge technologies and digital solutions, industry stakeholders can unlock unprecedented levels of efficiency, agility and resilience within the supply chain ecosystem, positioning themselves for sustained success in an ever-evolving marketplace. As we look to the future, digitalization will remain a linchpin of success, enabling all industry stakeholders to navigate the challenges and seize the opportunities that lie ahead in this dynamic world of global trade.