The logistics industry has relied on paper-based documents for far too long. But the adoption of digital documents, such as electronic bills of lading (eBLs) or Letters of Credits (LCs), has the power to revolutionize the industry. With eBLs, for example, shippers and carriers can quickly and easily create, sign, and share documents, eliminating the need for physical paper copies to be exchanged.
As more companies adopt digital solutions in the logistics industry, it is likely that the use of eBLs will continue to grow in popularity, providing a more efficient and cost-effective alternative to traditional paper-based documentation. And while some may hesitate due to concerns about data privacy and cross-border compatibility, these issues are precisely what these types of documents can address.
Eliminate manual data entry and make more informed decisions
During the COVID-19 pandemic, paper-based systems across the logistics industry were shown to have weaknesses. With global trade disruptions and port closures due to lockdowns, the transfer of paper bills of lading stopped, causing delays and making the process more challenging.
Digital documents are beneficial because they reduce manual data entry that is time intensive and prone to error. Importantly, they also enhance cargo tracking and visibility, so shippers and carriers can better manage their inventory and make more informed decisions. That's because paper-based bills of lading provide limited visibility into cargo status and location, whereas digital documents can provide real-time updates, reducing the risk of delays.
In addition, digital documents can make customs clearance faster and more accurate. With traditional paper documents, customs officials must manually inspect each one. But with digital documents, automated workflows can be implemented based on predetermined logic set up by customs officials. This streamlines the clearance process and reduces the need for manual intervention. As a result, goods can be cleared faster and with fewer errors, which saves time and reduces costs.
Enhance security and reduce your cyber risk
Digital documents make the logistics industry more secure by providing a safer way to verify ownership and authenticity of cargo. Unlike traditional paper documents, digital documents cannot be lost, stolen or duplicated, reducing the chances of costly disputes and delays.
What's more, digital documents offer an even higher level of security because they can be encrypted and securely stored in digital wallets or servers. Only authorized parties can access and share these documents, making it harder for unauthorized parties to tamper with cargo and reducing the risk of data breaches.
Enjoy cost savings and stimulate global trade
As the adoption of digital documents continues to grow, they are poised to become the standard for international trade documentation, enabling the logistics industry to operate more securely and effectively.
The cost of printing and shipping paper-based documents, such as bills of lading, compliance documents and phytosanitary certificates can add up quickly, especially for large and frequent shipments, and that is not accounting for the couriers used to transport these documents.
Looking towards a more paperless and productive environment
Clearly, digital documents have emerged as a more secure, efficient, and flexible alternative to traditional paper-based processes in the logistics industry. While there may be challenges to adopting these new processes, the benefits are significant, including reduced costs, improved security, enhanced tracking and visibility, and streamlined customs clearance procedures.
As the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the weaknesses of paper-based processes, the need for digital documents has become even more apparent. By embracing this technology, the logistics industry can operate more securely and effectively, stimulating global trade and generating cost savings for all parties involved.
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