By now, people around the globe are aware of the challenges for ocean shippers – skyrocketing container costs, port congestion, delays and increased transportation costs. One way many shippers are minimizing these challenges is with supply chain visibility solutions, but is it working? To see the current state of ocean freight visibility, FourKites recently released its latest research report, in conjunction with the Journal of Commerce.
The benchmark study interviewed 269 international and domestic shippers, 3PLs and carriers of varying company sizes and roles, meaning that a breadth of respondents were surveyed in the ocean freight space. The report’s main goal was to look at the state of ocean freight visibility and how it has changed since the start of COVID-19.
Prior to the pandemic, only 42% of respondents were satisfied with their visibility solution. A whopping 76.9% of respondents said that using visibility revealed where COVID-19 created weaknesses in their supply chain! This actually spurred an investment in a visibility solution for 51% of the respondents, while 25% of respondents were already planning on investing in a visibility solution. Currently, only 11% of the respondents use a standalone visibility solution, meaning that they are still using additional data sources or manual processes.
While it is clear that the pandemic and supply chain chaos have spurred an investment in visibility solutions, what areas of improvement are supply chain professionals seeking? Customer service was a top focus (78%), with inventory management (69.6%) and agility/resiliency (69.6%) rounding the top three areas of improvement. This is not surprising with the amount of manual track and trace emails and phone calls that shippers have been dealing with for years – a previous FourKites survey found that 50% of ocean shippers use a completely manual track and trace process for ocean freight management. Now, with the ocean chaos, it is clear that the ongoing disruptions – whether supply chain, weather or labor related – are drastically affecting the agility of their supply chain network.
This benchmark study shows that the pandemic revealed supply chain holes and inefficient manual processes that were prevalent for decades. The supply chain chaos has expedited the need to be resilient, enabled by a visibility solution that can automate manual processes and prevent stockouts. Ocean freight visibility solutions, like FourKites’ Dynamic Ocean, provide shippers with end-to-end visibility for their full ocean freight journey with predictive ETAs and exception management capabilities to manage these everpresent disruptions.
To read the full research report, The Rapid Rise of Ocean Freight Visibility, from FourKites and the Journal of Commerce, click here.