Whether you are an owner of a large factory, an eBay or ecommerce seller or a farmer, logistics will be the backbone of your business. It doesn’t matter how good you are in what you do — if you fail with the logistics, your business is in problem. To avoid it, one needs to manage the logistics well, and be on top of their shipments every day. We spoke to Zack Rat, Founder and COO at Shiperd.

How is shipping and logistics managed?

So, how do you manage your logistics and shipping? Like (almost) everyone, you probably use Excel, emails, phone, and paper folders. In other words, most importers and exporters manage their logistics and shipping the same as they did 20 years ago.

The Old Way of doing logistics

Let’s take John for example, an experienced import manager at a medium size IT equipment wholesaler in the UK. He is very experienced and of course very busy, always busy!

On Monday morning John receives an email from the factory in China saying the new servers are ready for collection in 2 days. He then copies the shipment details and sends it to 2-3 freight forwarders, compares their quotes and sends the factory and contact person details to the freight forwarder he chose for this shipment, based on the rate, route and service level.

Then he adds a new line in his Excel spreadsheet, copies and pastes the shipment information, adds the ready date, departure date and the estimated time of arrival.

After few days the freight forwarder emails the Bill of Lading and rest of shipping documents. John will open a new folder on his computer, and save all documents there. Every few days he will log in to the freight forwarder portal, check ETA, and update his spreadsheet. At the end of the month, the shipment arrives, the freight forwarder sends his invoice and John needs to approve it. “What was the price?” Not a problem –  John is very organised and has it in his inbox. “It was only 6 weeks since I got the quote, it shouldn’t be a problem.” John receives 100 emails per day — 45 days is only 4,500 emails ago… Indeed, yet another “smooth” shipment is finalised.

The New Way

Dan is also an import manager at a large shoes wholesaler. He started to use digital tools recently to run his shipments. He uses Xero to run his accounting, Salesforce to manage his clients, and Shiperd to run his daily shipping tasks. Shiperd can work with any freight forwarder, even if he or she never used Shiperd before. It took Dan less than 10 minutes to set up his new account, add the freight forwarders he knows and trusts for many years, and start saving time and money by managing his shipping online.

On Monday morning Dan receives an email from the factory in China saying the new shoes collection will be ready in 2 days. He then opens Shiperd, adds the shipment details in less than 30 seconds, and chooses which freight forwarders should receive his request for quote. The following day he logins again and can see all 3 quotes received. He then selects the freight forwarder that he prefers for this shipment based on rate, route and service level. That’s it, the shipment can start moving.

While Dan spent only 1 minute for all the above cycle, Shiperd did all the hard work for him in the background. It received the quotes from his freight forwarders, converted currencies to his default currency, negotiated the rate with its unique feedback quoting engine and sent the collection details.

After few days when the freight forwarder has all the shipping documents, he doesn’t need to email it to Dan. He uses a link to upload directly all of them to the shipment profile in Shiperd, so Dan and all his colleagues can see it. In addition, the freight forwarder is requested to insert the Airway Bill number. Once received, Dan enjoys live tracking in Shiperd’s dashboard along with his all other shipments. Now Dan has one place with all the shipments he is responsible for, thus gives him full control and visibility.

Lastly the invoice arrives: no need to search in thousands of emails. Dan goes to the management table, types in the reference number, and all the quotes are there. So, another smooth shipment has been completed.

Both Dan and John manage to complete the shipments successfully. However, while John had to work hard every step of the way, Dan used Shiperd to automate the workflow. Shiperd requires no installation or implementation process, and everyone can go live in less than 10 minutes. So, whether you are managing 5 shipments per month or 100, Shiperd can save you money and hours of productivity. It means that there is no excuse to continue managing your shipments the same way you did 20 years ago, even if you are really good at it.

In last couple of years we have seen the entrance of digital solutions to logistics. There are digital freight forwarders such as Flexport or iContainers, online freight marketplaces such as Freightos or uShip, and even Transportation Management systems that are usually aimed at enterprise level clients rather than SMEs. Each solution has its own advantage and uniqueness, and some vary greatly in their ability to fully meet importer/exporter needs, requirement to change existing workflows and procedures, ease of use and cost.

Written by Zack Rat, Founder and COO at Shiperd