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Are Emails Still Relevant When Shipping

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Photo by Artem Podrez

The efficiency of communication systems can significantly impact operational success in the fast-paced world of logistics and shipping. Hence, outdated traditional methods of communication are often scrutinised for their efficacy and reliability compared to today’s rapidly evolving alternatives. 


Despite these newer technologies offering promising features, email, among other tools, remains ubiquitous and has entrenched itself deeply within business operations. Let’s discuss how this traditional form of communication still holds its ground in shipping logistics in today’s digital age. 

Efficiency of Email Communication

Emails, particularly shipping emails, are renowned for their straightforward approach and ease of use. In the context of shipping, where information must flow seamlessly across various stakeholders, from warehouse operators to distribution managers, email provides a universally accessible platform. This accessibility ensures that everyone, regardless of their technical expertise, can communicate effectively, preventing bottlenecks and enhancing overall operational flow.


Moreover, the structured nature of email makes it an excellent tool for document management. Shipping emails often contain vital information such as shipping notices, bill of lading, invoices, and customs documentation. The ability to attach documents directly and maintain an organised record of all communications is invaluable. This archival capability not only supports day-to-day operations but also proves essential during audits and when resolving disputes.

Real-Time Updates and Tracking

According to the Data & Marketing Association, while 13 billion letters are sent and received annually in the UK, an astonishing 215.3 billion emails are dispatched daily globally. Although direct mail retains certain advantages, email tracking and follow-up capabilities are far superior.


Email boasts the critical advantage of immediate transmission, connecting people just next door or thousands of miles apart. This instantaneity is pivotal in the shipping industry, where timely and efficient communication is essential. Email facilitates quick exchanges of important information and enables real-time status updates, streamlining the entire communication process.


Moreover, the uninterrupted flow of emails allows for continuous dialogue between companies and clients, fostering a productive relationship where queries or concerns can be addressed without delay. This immediacy ensures that any potential issues are swiftly managed, enhancing overall efficiency and client satisfaction in the shipping sector.

Security and Privacy Concerns

Security is paramount in shipping, where sensitive information must be protected against breaches. Emails can be equipped with robust security measures, such as end-to-end encryption, to safeguard data integrity and confidentiality. 


Additionally, emails’ ability to comply with various international privacy laws makes them a preferred choice for global shipping operations, where compliance with regulations is mandatory. Take the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), for example. 


GDPR mandates strict guidelines on the processing and storing of personal data for individuals within the EU. Shipping companies operating in or serving EU customers must ensure that all personal data handled through emails, including addresses, payment information, and personal identifiers, comply with GDPR requirements.


Email providers that are GDPR-compliant offer tools that help in maintaining these standards by ensuring data is handled appropriately during transit and storage. For instance, they might provide features like data encryption, the ability to ensure data sovereignty by storing data within the EU, and mechanisms for data access and deletion as required under the regulation.


Furthermore, GDPR compliance not only secures data but also builds customer trust. When customers know that their information is treated with a high standard of privacy and security, they are more likely to feel comfortable engaging with the shipping service. This level of trust is crucial, especially in an era where data breaches and privacy concerns are on the rise.

Email as a Standard in Business Communication

Despite the proliferation of various communication platforms, email remains the gold standard in professional settings. In shipping, the formal tone and structured format of emails reinforce professionalism and help maintain a clear record of interactions. This is crucial in establishing and nurturing trust among business partners and clients.


Furthermore, emails seamlessly integrate with other essential tools used in shipping operations, such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and freight management software. This integration ensures that information is synchronised across all platforms, reducing errors and improving response times, which are critical in shipping logistics.

Customer Preference and Expectations

In the shipping industry, customer satisfaction hinges not only on the prompt delivery of goods but also on the quality of communication. Many customers strongly prefer to receive updates and documentation via email. This preference is driven by the familiarity and reliability of email as a communication tool, which allows customers to track correspondence and retrieve information when needed easily.


Emails serve as a formal record of the transaction and shipping process, providing customers with a sense of security and accountability. They allow customers to keep a log of communications related to their orders, which is particularly useful in cases where a reference to previous interactions is necessary—such as in follow-ups on shipment delays or discrepancies in orders.


Furthermore, in a world where consumers are increasingly concerned about privacy, emails offer a more controlled environment for sharing sensitive information, such as payment details or personal addresses, compared to other less secure platforms. When shipping companies cater to these customer preferences and expectations, they can enhance customer loyalty and satisfaction, which, in turn, fosters long-term business relationships.

Final Thoughts

While the shipping industry continues to evolve and incorporate new technologies, emails remain a fundamental part of the communication landscape. Their role in ensuring efficient, secure, and professional exchanges is undeniable. Looking ahead, it’s likely that emails will continue to be used in conjunction with newer technologies, striking a balance that leverages the strengths of each to enhance communication efficacy in shipping logistics.


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