Insights

3 ways to optimise your supply chain through strategic partnerships

Aug 01, 2022

Although we’re working in an age of technology and digitisation, it is still important to have a good working relationship with your freight forwarder to get goods moving. Technology should drive success in your partnerships with supporting expert advice backed by accurate and reliable data. 

Digital freight forwarders can help to provide solutions by:

  • giving you real-time visibility across your supply chain to enable quicker decisions
  • use the latest technologies to streamline your work processes
  • understanding you supply chain requirements to provide bespoke solutions
  • finding solutions that specifically target your issues and help you meet your KPIs

We spoke with Gareth Davies, Head of Logistics at Lenovo, to discuss the importance of strategic partnerships with freight forwarders and how to ensure that these relationships remain successful to drive supply chain success.

Why are strategic partnerships important?

Supply chains can be complex, especially when businesses work with multiple suppliers all over the world. And added to this complexity are the disruptions supply chains have faced over the past few years such as COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, and new customs regulations from Brexit to name a few.

As businesses juggle various components of their supply chain all at once, strategic partnerships with digital freight forwarders can help you to:

  • reduce lead times through effective operations management and better visibility on shipments
  • automated work processes to help you generate better reporting and reduce the risk of human error
  • store data in a centralised system to help stakeholders access information anywhere in the supply chain.
  • use data to identify areas of opportunities to reduce costs and work towards more sustainable shipping

From a platform that gives you the competitive edge through end-to-end visibility to experts in customs, procurement and solutions, digital freight forwarders should be providing you with the ability to improve your supply chain, make agile decisions and ultimately add value to your supply chain. 

How do you ensure that your partnership is successful?

We’ve established why choosing the right digital freight forwarder can drive performance in your supply chain but how can you achieve success with them?

Here are some practical ways to help you form a successful partnership with your freight forwarder:

Assess and identify

As the market is changing, supply chains also need to evolve. It is important to keep an open mind and consider working with new partners. Your freight forwarder needs to do more than just get your products from A to B. They need to act as an extension of your team by understanding your supply chain needs, what areas you want to work on and to work with you to achieve your goals.

So how do you identify an effective partner? According to Gareth, freight forwarders have “to be able to raise the bar. They’ve got to be able to show us something new, something advanced, quicker, more efficient ways of doing things.”

But with so many options to assess, it is important to ensure that you keep track of which partner can positively impact your supply chain. The first step is to assess your partners by having monthly and quarterly reviews to identify who is excelling and where they can improve. 

Gareth recommends “a process to see who is here for the journey and the duration [by using] things like global scorecards,  that measure every single touch. Ensure it measures absolutes, but it also measures responses, feelings, and attitude.”

If your partner does not meet your expectations then it’s time to consider other options. To find out how you can find the right partner for you, use our checklist to measure a freight forwarder’s value

Keep the communication lines open

Having a close relationship with your partner by keeping your communication lines open will allow both parties to express concerns and goals. 

Gareth explains that his work processes ensure that communication is a two-way system. “We built up a very honest two-way communication process so that if somebody isn’t delivering what we need, then we have a mechanism in place to understand why”.

A good starting point to ensure that you’re communicating effectively with your partner by being clear about your objectives from the start. Your goals must be straightforward and easy to communicate.

Gareth elaborates, “it’s key that you’ve got a simple, straightforward objective and a clear, understandable and translatable strategy as they’re the guys that will have to translate some of these into physical action.”

Data transparency is key 

Over the last two years, freight rates have skyrocketed, capacity is tighter and port congestion continues to be a challenge. The last thing businesses need is to be left in the dark.

Therefore, data transparency has never been more important. Your partners should be giving you a overview on information such as:

  • Transit times
  • Costs per shipment
  • Freight rates
  • Delays 

Businesses also need to share the level of expectation they require in terms of data. Working with his internal team, Gareth Davies sets a level of expectation and shares this with his partners. He sets his expectations up-front: , “This is what we believe good will look like. This is the kind of service level. This is the aggregated transit time. This is where we’re going to sit with any damage reporting”.

Data transparency will help you understand your supply chain better and your digital freight forwarder should be working with you to look through the data and advise on how to optimise its performance to drive business value. 

How can Zencargo help you?

Zencargo is a digital freight forwarder, providing end-to-end visibility to businesses across their supply chain.

Our platform acts as a centralised data system and allows stakeholders to access any information across their supply chain.

We also provide a team of logistics experts who will work to make sure your goods are moving efficiently and strive to work with you to become your trusted partner.

Want to find out more? Get in touch with our experts today to see how we can work with you to achieve your supply chain goals.