It’s not only cargo moving in the shipping world – the entire freight forwarding industry is in a state of flux. Factors behind the changes include changing trade alliances, consolidation of some shipping lines, changes to oil prices, the growing demand for sustainable solutions, digitisation and terrorism threats.

While a CEO cannot control all these things, careful planning and partnering with a professional freight forwarder can help to de-risk supply chain operations and protect business profitability.

Keep reading and learn about five big trends your operations team need to navigate to make your business future-ready.

1) Everyone wants a piece of green

Environmental concerns, particularly around carbon emissions and the risks of climate change is resulting in growing demand for businesses to demonstrate responsibility and sustainability in their supply chains. As some companies including major stock exchange heavyweights have undertaken voluntary reporting, the pressure is now on everyone else to do the same.

Recently, the world’s largest shipping line, Maersk, declared it will publish the CO2 emissions data for its fleet of vessels – and other lines may also follow suit. What this means for businesses is they may need to examine their import and export carriers and optimise routes and carriers to minimise the supply chain’s carbon footprint.

Professional freight forwarders are ahead of the curve on this, and can already provide advice on sustainable shipping solutions.

2) The ongoing evolution of future trade routes

With global trade relations an ever-moving feast of both new treaties opening up markets, and new sanctions shutting the door on others, trade routes also shift. Keeping abreast of all these developments is challenging enough – but knowing how it will translate into fine details in terms of shipping, space availability and schedules could consume enormous amounts of time and energy.

To ensure your plans are not hobbled by an unexpected shift due to a new trade pact, free trade agreement or a restriction in a key import or export market, getting advice from a freight forwarder with a strong global network is key to navigating the maze.

3) Security in the spotlight

The events immediately after 11 September 2001 are a good illustration of how quickly things can change. Immediately afterward, the US government responded to concerns around further terrorist attacks by asking shippers, shipping lines and freight forwarders to comply with new security regulations.

Initially, it also caused confusion, and it took several months of joint effort before stakeholders had established the new normal. As terrorist attacks around the world continue to make headlines, more countries are becoming cautious and setting up new security programs. This can cause major disruption for your business if your cargo does not comply with a destination’s new and specific requirements. For freight forwarders, having their finger on the pulse of compliance requirements is core business – putting them in the perfect position to ensure your goods can get through the gatekeepers.

4) Consolidation in the cargo industry is a reality

Globally, shipping lines and freight forwarders face the same competitive pressures as any other sector. Some are being bought by larger, rival firms, others are merging operations to consolidate capacities, have greater leverage in terms of prices and dominate competitors. These kinds of market movements can have a major impact on your future freight prices.

The right freight forwarding partner will keep you updated on these changes and what their impact might be for your business operations and bottom line results.

5) Supply chains are going digital

Like every other sector, the shipping world is also going digital. Gone are the days when bundles of physical paperwork followed cargo around the world. Now, most paperwork needs to be digitised and information exchanged electronically.

Even if some parts of your supply chain are still using actual paperwork – this is highly likely to change, and soon. It is fair to expect your freight forwarding partner will be equipped to handle digital and electronic information flows throughout the supply chain, and can in turn help you gain the most benefit from the digital transformation.

Being future-ready

Change is a constant for the freight forwarding industry just as it is for every other sector. It doesn’t matter where in the world you are doing business, the global inter-connectedness of cargo movements and markets means needing to stay abreast of what’s going on and how it may affect your operations.

Aligning with a professional freight forwarder is the CEOs best defence against potential supply chain disruption, as keeping your logistics operating smoothly is their core business.

For more than a century, BCR has continued to help small, medium and large businesses achieve an optimum logistics solution with warehousing and transportation, including air freight and sea freight services to and from the major ports including Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Fremantle (Perth).