If the volatile logistics markets of recent years have shown us anything, it’s that a robust, agile, and transparent supply chain is more than just a nice-to-have—it’s a necessity. With every shift of the industry, whether rate fluctuations, port disruption or customs changes, fate has favoured the prepared. Today that means data, visibility and control – delivered through digital channels and accessible across your network. 

This is especially important to those industries most susceptible to changes in consumer trends, pricing and product demand, such as cosmetics, homeware and, notably, fashion. To get a frontline view on how digitisation and logistics evolution are impacting this latter industry, we sat down with Greg Tress, Logistics Operations Manager at MATCHES on our podcast Freight to the Point to learn how retailers can achieve supply chain success through digital freight forwarding.

Why digital matters more than ever

Digital freight forwarding has been evolving as a trend for the last decade at least, but recent disruption, and the commercial consequences, have laid bare the need for a modern approach to supply chains.

At heart, digital freight forwarders are an evolution of the traditional middle-man role of freight forwarders, using digital tools and analytics to offer more effective and efficient logistics solutions. By centralising and sharing live supply chain data, providers such as Zencargo can automate and streamline tasks such as booking, tracking, and inventory management through digital platforms.

“Digitalisation for me within a supply chain is about autonomy and visibility.” says Greg. “It gives retailers a platform to essentially see their shipments from end-to-end, which drives a whole range of benefits from data, which is really important, but also to give them an online source to access data and shipment locations.”

What are the benefits of a digital freight forwarder?

With digital freight forwarding, technology is a means to an end – data is used to plan, execute and optimise logistics services to a degree of accuracy and efficiency not possible with traditional freight. The ability to track and analyse performance across a supply chain enables not just service provision, but consistent, measurable service improvement.

In this way, an expert digital freight forwarder doesn’t just provide a technological platform; it integrates with your existing supply chain systems and provides actionable insights based on accurate data to optimise every aspect of your logistics operations.

Working in partnership

The right digital freight forwarder functions not just as a service provider but as a strategic partner. The ability to connect data both within and outside your business enables a closer, more collaborative working relationship, based on shared visibility and understanding.

By setting targets for improvement outcomes at the start of a freight partnership, digital freight forwarders can use an in-depth understanding of your business needs and challenges to provide measurable changes in key areas such as costs, rate management, lead time optimisation and emissions. 

Finding the signal in the noise

While information is the core of digital freight services, a key part of this is also knowing what not to measure. Collecting data is one thing, but utilising the correct data sets to inform strategic decision-making is where the real value lies, looking beyond irrelevant points to find the historic trends that have a commercial impact for your customers and bottom line.

Supply chain coordination

Internal coordination can sometimes be a more significant hurdle than external coordination. Retailers rely on complex internal teams to plan and execute supply chain activity, in addition to the host of departments that depend on logistics performance, from finance to commercial campaign managers.

“Stakeholder management is something that again, is incredibly important to me personally. My style is all about relationships and building positive relationships with people internally, externally.” says Greg. Effective execution starts with trust – and with shared visibility and accountability within and outside the business based on reliable information, stakeholders can build more effective relationships that enable sustainable cooperation. 

How to choose the right digital freight forwarder

Like any partnership, your choice of service provider has a major influence on the value your business can realise. Given the wider scope of possibility when working with a digital freight forwarder, there are a range of factors to consider when choosing a partner, including:

  • Collaboration: Supply chain evolution requires a partner who doesn’t just execute on plans as instructed, but also helps you discover new opportunities. The right forwarder should have the expertise and experience to help you understand the latent potential to go beyond the way you’ve always done things.
  • Business fit: Your partner should align with the challenges and goals within your business, helping you set achievable targets around the metrics that matter the most, whether that’s cost reduction, launching new products or managing inventory.
  • Technology and innovation: Digital platforms move fast – the right partner should be able to offer consistent value and build on success through new features and strategies that suit your unique position.
  • Customer experience:  Like any big change, supply chain transformation requires collaboration. Consider onboarding experience, team training and platform user interfaces to ensure your team is ready to make the most of the tools available.

Making a difference with Zencargo

Zencargo is the digital freight forwarding partner for some of the world’s fastest growing businesses, helping them stay ahead of disruption, execute efficiently and expand their market share through strategic supply chain innovation.

  • End-to-end data and visibility: Our award-winning platform collates and presents data from across your supply chain network, from manufacturers and carriers to internal teams.
  • Agile logistics network: Our global network of carriers and local heroes ensure that our customers always have a range of choice when it comes to balancing cost, speed and flexibility.
  • Data-driven decision making: From inventory levels to transport times, we provide the data that matters the most to the right teams at the right time.
  • Targeted service: Every customer works with a dedicated success team at Zencargo to manage every step of your supply chain with expert support.

For retailers competing in a fast-moving market, supply chains are the new focal point for innovation and efficiency. The right choice of partner can help you reduce costs, accelerate growth and improve service for your customers at every stage of your procurement and production journey. 

To find out how Zencargo can support your business in the digital future, get in touch with our team today.