Solving Cross-Border Logistics Challenges with Technology and Visibility: Q&A with Forager CEO Matt Silver

On top of the common pain points supply chains deal with on a day-to-day basis, cross-border logistics comes with unique challenges. With different regulations, customs requirements, and languages, shipping freight across U.S., Mexico, and Canada borders can be cumbersome for both shippers and carriers.

To learn more about the complexity of cross-border logistics and how technology can solve some of these problems, I sat down with Matt Silver, Founder and CEO of Forager, a logistics technology company that automates and streamlines cross-border logistics processes.

Here’s what he had to say about cross-border logistics challenges, current market conditions, and how Forager and project44 are building innovations to keep cross-border shipments on track.

O’Donnell: What are some challenges associated with cross-border logistics?

Silver: Shipping cross-border is unique because it has so many moving parts. If I’m shipping a domestic load it’s very Point A to Point B. You have one truck, a BOL, and that’s about it. With a U.S./Mexico cross-border load, you have two to three carriers, two customs brokers, a stack of paperwork, and two countries with their own laws, languages, and challenges. A big reason we’ve seen so much innovation in the domestic logistics space, and not as much in the cross-border logistics space, is due to that simplicity.

O’Donnell: What current market trends or trade conditions are impacting cross-border logistics?

Silver: COVID-19 was a shock to the system. The global supply chain is massively dependent on China. A lot of logistics professionals were aware of the hypothetical danger of a single-source supply chain, but the pandemic made it real.

COVID-19 brought the conversation surrounding nearshoring — in this case moving manufacturing from China into Mexico — to the forefront. A more diversified, localized supply chain recovers from disruption more quickly, it cuts down on shipment times, and it’s incentivized by trade policies like the USMCA. For many companies nearshoring just makes sense, and the pandemic was the push they needed to finally take the plunge.

All that translates into additional cross-border volume and increased North American trade.

O’Donnell: Why are supply chains accelerating digitalization initiatives?

Silver: Modern supply chain management is a precision game. Global commerce happens in real-time with very little room for error. In automotive manufacturing, a shutdown on the floor due to a shipping delay can cost the company tens of thousands of dollars per minute. If you’re relying on analog processes like phone calls and faxes, you lose crucial time to course correct or respond to incidents and prevent those costly delays.

Technology isn’t just nice to have, it’s necessary to keep up.

O’Donnell: How does Forager’s digital marketplace help both shippers and carriers streamline the cross-border freight process?

Silver: SCOUT by Forager eliminates the heavy administrative burdens of cross-border shipping and simplifies them down to a few clicks. All the analog processes that usually happen between the pickup and destination are automated within SCOUT and overseen by our bilingual operations team. Instead of calling around and waiting hours to get a quote that’s little more than a broker’s best guess, you can get a quote from SCOUT instantly and book it right then and there. It’s as easy as scheduling a flight.

O’Donnell: How can carriers benefit from Forager’s cross-border load board?

Silver: If you’re a cross-border carrier, or a carrier that frequently goes to border cities like Laredo or El Paso, there’s nothing on the market made specifically for you. All the load boards are built for domestic freight. You can’t sort by border crossing or filter for drop trailer or door-to-door. You can’t trust that the people posting loads know anything about customs paperwork or specialized requirements. Forager’s load board is built specifically for direct cross-border and transload freight. It’s easy to navigate, it’s fast to book and bid, and the load details are thorough. It does what a load board is supposed to do, and what doesn’t exist for cross-border: save carriers time and get them more high-quality volume.

O’Donnell: Why is real-time visibility essential and why did Forager partner with p44?

Silver: Real-time visibility is essential for any modern supply chain, cross-border or otherwise. It lets you operate in real-time and respond instantly to incidents and mitigate delays. It’s crucial to accurate scheduling and tight operations. Most domestic shippers expect real-time visibility, which is totally understandable. What’s less understandable is why so many cross-border shippers accept not knowing where their freight is once it crosses the border.

A supply chain is no less time-sensitive just because there’s a border involved. Cross-border shippers need the same level of visibility that a domestic shipper does. That’s why Forager partnered with project44, to provide the same high-quality service and transparency on both sides of the border.

I’m sure our carriers also appreciate getting fewer phone calls. No one likes constant tracking calls — whether they’re in English or in Spanish.

Forager and project44 have joined forces to deliver real-time visibility for freight crossing borders in North America. Read the article in FreightWaves to learn more.