UK – Speak to the average shipping or freight forwarding executive about IT processes and you can be expected to see eyes glazing over before your sentence is finished. That said all would recognise the vast improvements in systems which streamline the entire import/export process compared with twenty or so years ago. Whereas custom built systems were the expensive order of the day for major individual logistics groups the smaller operatives simply found themselves lagging behind, at a distinct disadvantage, until that is, progress rendered the ad hoc systems themselves redundant.
With the sale of its one hundredth NetFreight forwarding and Customs processing system, only introduced 4 years ago by Hampshire based Impatex, the difference these days is plain for all to see. NetFreight is a browser-based combined forwarding, Customs, warehousing and CRM (customer relationship management) system, which caters for small- and mid-size users. It is totally portable as it can be run on an internal or externally-hosted server, and be accessed using any internet connected laptop or mobile device such the iPad and iPhone.
The company to run up the century of sales was multi modal freight forwarder Duncan International and the comments from Operations Manager Mark Tucker encapsulate exactly why the product is proving so popular with UK agents as he said:
“We switched to Netfreight because it does absolutely everything that we need and more. It was easy to learn and once we got used to it, it was much quicker than any of the previous systems we’ve had. NetFreight will save us 4-5 minutes per job; on a busy Friday afternoon, those minutes are priceless. It’s good to know we are the 100th user for NetFreight. I am sure Impatex will get to 1000 customers, once more forwarders realise the benefits the system can bring.”
Impatex also produces a more heavyweight product in the form of produces ICE (Integrated Customs for Europe) a Customs processing solution aimed at major ‘corporate’ forwarders handling large volumes of Customs clearances. ICE is progressively replacing the market-leading Impatex Customs Manager system which handles over 50% of all frontier entries in the UK, and large volumes of inland clearances. Peter Day, MD of Impatex explained how the products now offer his company a better balance of business saying:
“NetFreight has opened up a completely new market for us. Previously we could only offer a comprehensive Customs system, with added forwarding and warehousing functions that were adequate but not comprehensive. As a result, some of our customers used third party forwarding systems to complement our Customs software.
“With NetFreight, we have a full freight management system to rival or better anything on the market – but which also incorporates frontier Customs, warehousing and CRM, and a comprehensive track and trace system for the benefit of our customers’ overseas agents and clients. Some of our SME customers have upgraded to Netfreight, but 80% of its users are new customers: many of whom have used it to replace up to four different software systems. In doing so, they have improved productivity and reduced costs”.