Forwarders want to see benefits before embracing e-freight

According to a recent survey, freight forwarders need to see realisable and significant value added to the airport-to-airport portion of the air cargo supply chain before making a commitment to e-commerce such as the IATA-led e-freight program.

The International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) and The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) conducted the global survey of some 450 freight forwarders in 84 countries. The largest number of participants were from Australia, Canada, Egypt, India, Netherlands, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, the UAE, UK, US, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

55% of respondents stated they were aware of IATA’s e-freight project, yet less than 20% said they were participating in the initiative.

According to Bill Gottlieb, immediate past president of FIATA, who helped lead the research, the initial findings clearly show a positive shift in forwarders‘ attitudes to e-commerce, with forwarders willing to invest only if airlines do likewise.

"IATA was successful in thinking outside the box when it implemented paperless ticketing, making life simpler for passengers and less costly for carriers.  We have therefore asked IATA to collaborate with FIATA to create a new cargo documentary and data flow driven by technology, to simplify the process thereby eliminating an antiquated process. This should also drive change in the status of the forwarder and airline relationship," said Gottlieb.

He added that there is great potential for companies to embrace today’s e-commerce standards so they benefit from the efficiency and enhanced customer service capability, but the focus has to be on value added. 

"Air cargo remains woefully behind other modes of transport in terms of e-commerce. We know that for every industry it takes time and investment to build momentum, but right now there clearly isn’t enough value added to entice many airlines and the wider international forwarding community to come to the table."

TIACA secretary general Daniel Fernandez commented that while DHL Global Forwarding and Emirates SkyCargo are pairing up in a new project to sufficiently reduce errors and eliminate tons of paper documents across their networks by becoming the leading implementers of e-freight, the survey clearly shows that, for other forwarders around the world, the industry still has a lot to do to promote the full benefits of trading electronically and eliminating paper from the air cargo process.

He added that the need to work together with industry partners to facilitate important new e-commerce developments can also be supported through the new global industry advisory group being created TIACA, FIATA, IATA and the Global Shippers‘ Forum (GSF).

Fernandez concluded that the volume of paperwork that currently accompanies airfreight shipments is the equivalent of 7,800 tons per year, which isn’t sustainable in modern day business, particularly for an industry needing to optimise cost efficiencies so as to remain competitive and in profit.

Quelle: eyefortransport


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