Top 6 ocean freight software for freight forwarders in 2024

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Ocean freight software is a game-changing asset in the dynamic world of modern logistics. Today, ocean freight software enables freight forwarders to reduce manual decision-making and simplify management by creating a single point of control and coordination. It helps them control end-to-end operations in various logistics areas, such as rate management and procurement, automate quotations, streamline documentation, route optimization, real-time tracking, and integration.

What is ocean freight software?

Ocean freight software provides insights into carrier data, simplifying carrier selection. It facilitates comparisons between rates, reliability, and service quality between multiple carriers and facilitates shipment booking. Real-time tracking tools enable insight into the accurate, up-to-date shipment status. This helps freight forwarders keep their stakeholders updated with the latest tracking information. Additionally, ocean freight software facilitates stakeholder communication, allowing them to coordinate and work together more efficiently. It also assists in identifying bottlenecks and taking steps to resolve them quickly, thereby maintaining trust and integrity.

Ocean shipping requires keeping up with a number of government compliance regulations and complex documentation. Ocean freight software helps digitize, organize, track, and ensure the accuracy of the many documents involved in international shipments. It also helps forwarders stay updated on the latest government regulations to ensure the shipments are customs-compliant and helps avoid unnecessary delays.

Data analytics is another essential feature that ocean freight software brings to the table. Trend analysis and identification enable data-driven decision-making. Ocean freight software also helps narrow down areas of improvement and optimization, paving the way for keeping up with trends and growing in the future.

Top 6 ocean freight software providers 

A variety of ocean freight software is leveraged to cater to specific needs within the freight industry. Transport management systems (TMS),  rate management systems (RMS), warehouse management systems (WMS), and supply change management systems (SCMS) are a few of the notable software a freight forwarder will most likely depend upon for their operations.

Rate Management Systems (RMS)

Freight forwarders use RMS to deal with pricing, quotation, and other functions related to freight cost management for their business. Here are the top  RMS solutions in the industry.

1. Freightify

Freightify's RMS solution provides an integrated software-as-service (SasS) platform to manage a freight forwarder's needs, such as rate procurement, rate management, booking a quotation, tracking and tracing the shipment, and a robust customer management portal — all in one place. 

Customer reviews appreciate the ease with which Freightify enables them to compare different carrier rates on the platform. Knowing the best market rates aids with quick decision-making while picking carriers and faster quotations. Freightify also operates a responsive customer support team to solve queries and ensure that its customers have a hassle-free experience at every step of the way.

Freightify continues to tirelessly work to onboard more carriers to the platform. It is also working towards adding more features — such as detention-free time information support — to its platform so that users don’t have to follow the cumbersome process of reaching out to a carrier’s website for this data.

Core features

Rate procurement: Aggregates 30 live ocean carrier rates, 90+ airlines, and inland charges into a single view, encompassing SPOT, FCL, LCL, and AIR rates from various carriers and NVOCCs.

Rate management: Efficiently add rates individually or in bulk through agent inputs, API uploads, or rate sheets, ensuring detailed information like origin, destination, and cargo specifics is included. View rates in concise tables or exportable rate cards. Automate margin management with customizable rules across products, ports, and global operations.

API Integration: API integration provides scalable track-and-trace solutions, enabling users to send track-and-trace information to any desired system.

Instant quote generation: Quickly generate and customize quotes from search results, including fee adjustment and profit calculation, with the option to email directly or download as a document.

Track & trace:  Experience comprehensive visibility with live end-to-end tracking, monitoring cargo from pickup to delivery. Leverage insights for prioritizing clients and maintaining relationships. Freightify's Analytics dashboard offers detailed insights on shipments, quotations, win ratios, and staff performance, enhancing operational efficiency and decision-making.

Ratings & Reviews:

G2: 4.8 out of 5 stars, praised for its pricing and shipment tracking

2. Okargo

Okargo's cloud-based RMS enables freight rate streamlining by providing tools to consolidate data from multiple sources into a unified format. It supports data input from PDF, Excel, Word, etc., and uploads them into its software, which it presents to its customers clearly and concisely. This allows them to compare the rates against each other without worrying about data consolidation and speeds up their decision-making process. 

A user-friendly interface for booking shipments and an easy-to-navigate website make Okargo a customer-friendly RMS solution. However, customer reviews also indicate that the software needs to become more robust and add more services to become versatile.

Core Features

  • Rate Management: Enables centralized management of ocean freight rates and facilitates the integration of online carrier quotes for comparison and decision-making.
  • Dynamic Engine: Continuously evolves based on customer feedback and industry trends and integrates ocean rates by route, encompassing charges, free times, and validity details.
  • User-Friendly Application: Provides an intuitive interface for port search, charge input, and information access. Allows for easy data transfer, carrier communication, and memo download within the application.
  • Real-Time Visibility: Offers real-time shipment tracking capabilities, ensuring transparency and control. Provides access to up-to-date routing information from partners such as BigSchedule.
  • Integration Capability: Integrates directly with Transportation Management Systems (TMS) for streamlined operations and utilizes APIs to access rates from price lists or carrier portals within the TMS.
  • Offers integration as a plug-in to E-forwarding platforms.

Limitations:

  • Can only compare containerized freight rates for a specific voyage between two ports on a specific date.
  • Does not allow direct booking of transport.

Pricing:

Contact Okargo for a customized quote.

3. Wisor.ai

Wisor AI uses the power of AI to create a SaaS-based RMS that allows easy consolidation of pricing data from various sources into a digital format. It provides an easy-to-use online spot rate generation system that presents customers with accurate pricing data. 

Wisor AI's RMS also boasts one of the fastest quotation generation tools in the industry. It leverages the power of Natural Language Processing (NLP) to generate and reply with customized quotations for customers' email inquiries within a few minutes, which they can edit as per their requirements. 

However, as advancements in AI continue to make leaps and bounds, Wisor still has some distance to go before it creates a stable system for its customers.

Core Features:

  • Real-Time Visibility: Provides real-time visibility into shipments with track & trace capabilities.
  • Automated Quotation System: Converts customer inquiries into customized quotes.
  • Seamless Connectivity: Stays connected with online carriers and platforms, accessing real-time pricing data via API.
  • Efficient Rate Management: Eliminates manual Excel sheets and manages online spot rates from diverse sources.
  • Data-driven Insights: Utilizes analytics and reporting tools to track performance, manage sales pipelines, and make informed decisions.

Limitations:

  • Difficulties in integrating Wisor.AI with existing systems.
  • A learning curve to adapt to its features, compounded by limitations in customization options. 

Pricing:

Schedule a demo call with Wisor.AI for a personalized quote.

Transport Management System (TMS)

While an RMS deals specifically with rate and quotation management, a TMS encompasses a broader range of tools that facilitate the end-to-end process of transporting a shipment from one location to another — including booking, tracking, and documentation. Some of the TMS solutions in the market are discussed below.

1. Magaya

Magaya provides its customers with a user-friendly UI that helps manage supply chain operations easily. The system allows users to access and track all shipment information. It automates the many documentation processes involved in booking shipments and assists in a hassle-free experience in transporting the cargo from the source to the destination. 

While the software is easy to use, reviews often mention limitations in integrating Magaya with other systems, especially accounting systems based outside the US.

Core Features:

  • Centralized Inventory Database: Manages and tracks all inventory records across warehouses and retail locations through a single unified database.
  • Inventory Level Dashboards: Maintains visual oversight of product stock levels across facilities with flexible inventory dashboards.
  • Stock History Reporting: Shows the history of individual items and compares the sales performance of new to old stock to inform purchasing decisions.
  • Carrier Management: Manages carrier details, evaluates performance, and tracks freight modes, pricing, and selection.
  • Customer Management: Provides a customer portal for shipment monitoring, creates and manages personalized quotes, and delivers necessary transportation documents.

Limitations:

  • Difficulty integrating with other systems and the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) website, particularly in accessing and downloading data into the ACE (Automated Commercial Environment) portal.

Pricing:

Contact Magaya for a customized quote.

2. Cargowise

CargoWise One is a single-platform TMS solution from Cargowise that helps simplify the complexities of logistics operations by digitizing and streamlining the many steps involved in the end-to-end processes of freight management. The comprehensive platform provides an extensive catalog of updated support modules to assist users across various stages of the freight forwarding process, such as quotation, booking, cargo tracking, and document management.

This being said, some users find Cargowise's TMS challenging to use, especially those who don’t want the hassle of going through complex processes and would instead prefer a straightforward user dashboard to meet their freight management needs.

Features:

  • Carrier Management: Manages carrier information, evaluations, and performance tracking to ensure efficient transportation operations.
  • Customer Management: Provides customers with a portal to monitor shipments, create personalized quotes, and access necessary transportation documents.
  • Analytics: Utilizes predictive analytics and asset tracking functionalities to gain insights into supply chain and shipping data, optimizing decision-making processes.
  • Process Automation: Automates tracking and recording activities throughout the supply chain lifecycle.

Limitations:

  • Restricted customization options, limiting flexibility and efficiency.
  • A steep learning curve requires significant time and resources to become proficient.

Pricing:

Contact Cargowise for a customized quote.

Ratings & Reviews:

G2: 4.3 out of 5 stars, commended for its ease of use and data integrity.

3. Descartes

Descartes’s Alijex is another comprehensive cloud-based TMS system. Some of its basic features include contract management, load planning and optimization, transportation execution, and freight audit. Advanced features comprise capabilities such as dock scheduling, yard management, dedicated fleets, and pool/retail distribution.

However, given the variety of features it offers, users report an obsolete, sluggish UI and problems in system robustness. Difficulties in extracting reports are also one of the platform’s limitations, which users frequently mention in their reviews.

Features:

  • Fleet Optimization: Enables users to optimize fleet operations by offering load optimization, route planning, and carrier selection.
  • Real-time Visibility: Users benefit from real-time visibility into their transportation operations with features like notifications, estimated time of arrival (ETAs), and in-transit tracking.
  • Comprehensive Transportation Management: Supports yard management, freight invoicing, and planning functionalities.
  • Integrations: Integrates with warehouse management systems, ERP systems, and accounting software.
  • Advanced Analytics: Allows users to monitor performance metrics, track driver performance, and gain actionable insights.

Limitations:

  • Challenges due to its requirement for integration with external systems like Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP), potentially increasing implementation complexity and resource demands.

Pricing:

Contact Descartes for a customized quote.

Ratings & Reviews:

G2: 4.5 out of 5 stars, praised for its usability and support.

Key features to look for in freight forwarding software

Technology integration into the ocean freight industry has transformed the role of the freight management system. It is no longer a feature but a necessity that drives a business forward in the evolving world of ocean logistics. However, given the number of digital freight solutions available, it becomes crucial to narrow down the key features to look for in ocean freight software.

  • Instant spot rates: One of the most essential features to look for in ocean freight software is its rate management capabilities. Freight rate management systems such as those provided by Freightify provide instant access to standardized rates from multiple sources. Their robustness ensures that human errors in rate calculation are eliminated and accurate, while reliable pricing information is made available at the click of a button.
  • Improved visibility: A freight system with real-time tracking and tracing capabilities improves visibility across processes. It allows stakeholders to track the several processes involved in the shipment’s journey from the source to its destination, thereby reinforcing trust in its operations. 
  • Integration with other systems. A freight software that integrates with other systems with minimal effort enables streamlining business workflows and ensures a hassle-free flow of data from one system to another. It allows collaboration across the logistics pipeline and ensures smooth operations. 
  • Reliable customer support: In an industry where a lot depends on meeting milestones on time, easily reachable customer support allows bottlenecks to clear faster and operations to continue without any major hiccups.

How to choose the right freight forwarding software for your business?

The many steps involved in a freight forwarding process and the variety of freight forwarding solutions mean there is no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing ocean freight software. However, aligning needs with critical features can help narrow down the best freight management system for a business. 

The most reliable method for finding freight forwarding software that fits one's needs is to look for real-time statistics and customer reviews, such as those enlisted on Freightify’s website. Numbers such as a 50% reduction in operational costs and a 92% reduction in processing time with Freightify are a testament to customer satisfaction. These figures speak for themselves and reinstate trust while choosing the right freight forwarding software for your business.

FAQS about Ocean Freight Software

How do you choose the best ocean freight software?

The most reliable method for finding freight forwarding software that fits one's needs is to look for real-time statistics and customer reviews. G2 scores and reviews are one such source of feedback. Numbers such as percentage reduction in operational costs or reduced processing time are a testament to customer satisfaction. These figures speak for themselves and reinstate trust while choosing the right freight forwarding software for your business.

Do I need an ocean freight software?

Today’s ocean freight software enables freight forwarders to reduce manual decision-making and simplify management by creating a single point of control and coordination. It helps them control end-to-end operations involved in various logistics areas, such as carrier management, documentation, warehouse management, route optimization, real-time tracking, process automation, and integration.

What is the difference between TMS and RMS?

While an RMS deals specifically with rate and quotation management, a TMS encompasses a broader range of tools that facilitate the complete process of transporting a shipment from one location to another, such as booking, tracking, and documentation.

Do I need both RMS and TMS software?

RMS can help reduce the time spent analyzing pricing from various carriers. TMS helps in managing the end-to-end shipment process. Both serve specific purposes and depending on the nature of your business, you may need one or both.

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