What the digitization of overseas shipments means for the customer

What the digitization of overseas shipments means for the customer
Published on: May 12, 2019
Updated: Aug 19, 2022

So the theory. But what is meant by customer satisfaction in practice?

The question is seemingly easy to answer: "I deliver good quality at a good price. My customers should be satisfied." That's what you might think; but the joy of quality service and fair price doesn't last long if the company can't connect with its customers. After all, customer happiness stands and falls with the quality of service, as a study by the Swiss university ZHAW shows. According to this study, customers even attach greater importance to service than to the price of the product or service.

Good service starts with good communication. Customers are most annoyed by hotline queues. So short response times to inquiries and individual communication are essential. Above all, keeping delivery dates and promises plays an enormous role. This is the only way to win the trust of your customers. This is the only way to turn your customers into fans.

But how can you increase your delivery reliability?

Key term ETA

Customers - and this means not only large, small or medium-sized companies, but also private individuals - have no time to wait for their delivery and have no understanding for vague information. They want full transparency and clear statements. When will the spare part arrive, when will the technician arrive, when will my package arrive?

The central piece of information for shipping goods is the ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival).

[tooltip title="ETA" color="blue"]ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) means the estimated time of arrival of the means of transport with the goods. This is given as an absolute value, e.g. ETA 15:00 - arrival expected today at 15:00[/tooltip].

Without the knowledge of the ETA, the further processes of the supply chain cannot be planned. Be it the car manufacturer who depends on the components from his supplier or the online retailer who wants to ship the goods to his customer.

However, the ETA is prone to disruption. When bad weather, congested ports, or production stoppages delay delivery, the success of the supply chain stands or falls on managing the problems that arise from the delay. Organizing overseas shipments in particular is more complex than domestic European shipments. And the nature of responses to a changing ETA differs depending on whether the goods are on a week-long ocean shipment from China to Hamburg or an express shipment by cargo plane.

The building blocks that need to be kept in mind here include deadlines for completing customs formalities, country-specific regulations, port capacities, delay costs for container slots, and the organization of pre-carriage and on-carriage.

Effective exception management is required. The success of the transport and thus also the satisfaction of the customer stands and falls with the speed with which irregularities are handled. And speed in turn depends on the provision of available information. Information about new regulations, missing documents, delivery delays, information about alternative routes, intermediate storage or means of transport.

It is not difficult to understand that a digital information flow is clearly superior to a paper or telephone-based one in terms of speed and transparency.

###Performance of Germany's 100 largest online stores.

The potential of data


The efficiency with which a shipment of goods can be carried out and how proactively it can respond to the unexpected are strongly related to the degree to which the company is digitized. Two essential prerequisites of digitization, in turn, are data transparency and appropriate data quality, since data errors have a more serious impact in a networked world than in traditional isolated IT applications.

One plus point is that the logistics industry is open to the digital transformation. Sub-areas such as sensor technology are already used as standard in fleet tracking or real-time monitoring of refrigerated containers. However, real-time tracking & tracing is only a small factor. Rather, it is necessary to plan the entire supply chain; and that is a complex strategic task. Instead of using isolated digital applications, it is important to digitally map the supply chain end-to-end, with the maritime transport module representing only one subcomponent.

What logistics is capable of achieving with digitization is demonstrated by the digital freight forwarder FreightHub, whose expertise is particularly useful in overseas transport. The FreightHub platform, which works with the help of algorithms, acts as an interface on which not only the entire transport route can be mapped digitally, but also the complete logistics documentation can be handled electronically. With the support of artificial intelligence (AI), irregularities can be identified and dealt with immediately. Data is recorded in much greater detail and accuracy than before.

On the one hand, the customer benefits from this transparency in day-to-day business because his entire team has access to all information at all times, including live updates of transport plans. On the other hand, reliability increases because potential problems can be identified at an early stage and dealt with in a differentiated manner. In short, the organization of transports becomes noticeably more intelligent, effective and customer-friendly with the help of AI.Algorithms and AI can do even more, however. They not only serve to make transport management more customer-friendly, but also to individualize customer service.

Munich-based tech company parcelLab demonstrates how to provide customers with a personalized shopping experience through individual shipment tracking and proactive shipping messages. If a company accompanies its customers through the shipping process in such a personalized way, it creates the best conditions for a loyal customer base.

###Experience shipping messages in action!

The Last Mile

The realization that shipping goods can be handled faster and more reliably with increasing digitization has already reached many companies. It's not a matter of if, but when and how to digitize. However, companies often face hurdles, such as the difficulty of coordinating different departments or finding qualified employees. These difficulties inhibit the speed of their digital transformation. Here, working with a tech partner company that contributes the necessary know-how can be the solution. Ultimately, the degree of digitalization will determine not only how customer-friendly a company is, but also whether it remains competitive.

This was a guest post from Freighthub

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Create new reasons for people to love your brand. Build standout post-sales experiences tailored to your customers. Deliver personalized touch points that grab attention and spark loyalty.

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