Member Interview: WORLDLINK, Singapore

IFN members are highly competent and professional, with a wealth of knowledge and industry experience to share.

With that in mind, we interviewed some of our members to ask for their views on the industry today, the benefits of networking, and their comments on the Pandemic. In July, we spoke to William Magendran at WORLDLINK A & O in Singapore:
How did you start out in freight forwarding?  
"My initial foray in freight forwarding was in the airfreight industry, handling operations. I have always been an extrovert and love meeting and interacting with people. This led me to the sales division of freight services. I was able to find solutions to freight and logistics issues for clients and this in turn churned a very large client base for the organisation that I worked for. This accomplishment in sales gave me the opportunity to lead a sales team that brought even greater success to the company. Eventually, I moved from regional to overseas networks, expanding to global services.

Having been in the industry for more than 30 odd years, I realised that I greatly wanted to start my own freight forwarding business. This was

done successfully and with great support from former clients and associates. The past 4 years has been a journey of growth with teething problems which have been overcome. However, the current Pandemic is proving to be a challenge, which I feel will be overcome with time and perseverance."

Your thoughts on the logistics industry today and how things have changed due to the Pandemic?

"The logistics industry is an important part of the much needed supply chain industry. This industry has been proven to be recession proof. However, the Pandemic has created obstacles and hindrances unlike any recession. I feel that the logistics industry will persevere through this Pandemic, albeit at a slower pace. The competition between forwarders will be fierce but this is where our relations with clients will start to show. An Independent Freight Forwarder has always had that personal touch with clients. This working relationship is usually a long term endeavour and it should be able to bear the storm. The inability to meet face to face has affected the ability to acquire new clients and contracts. Most IFFs are slashing margins to keep existing clients, making penetration into new markets an uphill task. I do feel that as the borders open up, business will pick up, because economies are all dependent on cross border trade.  

What are the main challenges facing independent forwarders?

"The main challengers facing IFFs are the loss of existing clients that have been severely affected by the Pandemic. As clients struggle to keep their businesses afloat, they will try to slash costs and request for reduction of rates. This in turn will have a domino effect on the IFF’s bottom line. The decision has to be made to either lower our cost with cutbacks or to maintain the current rates while offering extras to show clients some form of added value, in order to maintain business. Walking this fine line is like walking a tightrope and requires manoeuvring that would put an acrobat to shame. 

The need to liaise with like-minded forwarders, who are facing the same issue, is another challenge. How can we expect them to reduce their overseas rates to accommodate our clients? It will require a lot of give and take between us in the global effort to maintain a viable business."

How relevant is networking in today’s forwarding industry?

"The relevancy of networking has never been greater. A freight forwarding network provides the sharing of business resources while greatly reducing risks and insurance costs. A network allows IFFs the ability to watch over and control shipments. A regional IFF will benefit from his global partners in shipping their clients’ cargo to destinations that would otherwise be less manageable. With support from a freight network, freight forwarders can compete with the huge international shipping companies that automatically get the best rates from carriers. With the support of a network, the ability to generate new leads and business opportunities is greatly enhanced as well.

When joining a quality network, the administration of the logistics network will carefully validate the background details of the company. Once the forwarder is approved, the IFF will be eligible to use the network logo and certificate. The certification will enhance business acceptance and credibility. A third party corroboration will add value to every IFF. This is still very much relevant in today’s forwarding industry. Being part of a network will keep our company in the limelight as well. There is a power in unity that will give us the edge over multinational freight forwarding companies."
How do you see the future for independent forwarders?   
"I feel the future of independent forwarders is bright. The fact that the shipping and freight forwarding industry is the only one providing a positive growth in this pandemic for Singapore, says a great deal. Maritime Singapore is a vibrant industry that contributes 7% to our nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The manufacturing companies base their supply chain control towers and distribution centres in Singapore, in order to orchestrate their regional and global supply chains. According to the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index (LPI) 2018, Singapore ranks seventh in the world and ranks third for logistics competence. This information bodes well for the industry as a whole. 

With the combined efforts of IFFs, we will be able to benefit from the forecast growth in freight forwarding. The new norm in the current Pandemic requires a shift in working styles and environments. The online evolution is something that would engulf the industry in a more vigorous manner than it has before. Adaptation is key and those that do not diversify and adapt to this new way of life and business will perish. This is the reason to be a part of networks that are able to adapt with a forward thinking approach. Therefore, with the right collaborations, I only see a bright future ahead."

Worldlink Air & Ocean – A company that provides unparalleled supply chain and logistics management worldwide. With a combined experience of over 25 years in the handling of commercial carrier management, logistics for ship spares operations and supply chain technology.

We are passionate about exceeding our customers’ expectations and are guided by stringent practices that we apply to our daily operations. We operate at a very high standard and have attained a level of trust and support from our clients that translates in the form of recognition that we have gained as a leader in the logistics market. 

Please visit our website and watch our YouTube video.

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