Forwarders need more understanding of digitalisation, says AfA chief

Brandon Fried, executive director, Airforwarders Association (AfA). Photo: AfA

Forwarders are ready to invest in digitisation but need to understand better its worth beyond being a shipper or regulatory requirement.

That was the message from Brandon Fried, executive director of the Airforwarders Association (AfA), when addressing delegates at the CNS Partnership Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

“There has been steady acceptance and adoption in the air cargo sector at large, but within the independent freight forwarder community, digitisation is driven by the shipper,” said Fried.

He added: “Many AfA members invested in automation before the pandemic and could work from home, so in many ways the COVID lockdowns were a gigantic proof of concept.

“But for continued and more widespread streamlining of operations through digitisation, there needs to be a more clearly articulated value proposition.”

Fried emphasised that, for the necessary increased engagement to happen, forwarders need to understand what is at stake.

Acknowledging the challenge of reaching out to the diverse US forwarder community of up to 4,000, Fried stressed that software providers had to be better at demonstrating the benefits of digital compliance.

“If the benefits of adopting a specific automation solution are not properly communicated, forwarders won’t move on from legacy practices,” Fried told a record-breaking 750 delegates from across the globe.

“The software providers have to be better at demonstrating the benefits of digitisation and until they do I think the industry at large is paying the price.”

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