Member Insights: Challenges and strategies for freight forwarding in China

Alexa McPherson, 26 April 2024

Member Insights Series

An exclusive interview with 7ConNetwork member, Dennis Bey of One World Link.

In the dynamic landscape of global logistics, the freight forwarding sector in China presents a unique blend of challenges and strategies that industry professionals navigate daily. 

7ConNetwork member, Dennis Bey, with his extensive background spanning roles at UPS, Seco, Fige (now part of AIT), and ShipCo, and eventually founding One World Link, shares invaluable insights into the intricacies of freight forwarding within China. 



Navigating the Complexities of Freight Forwarding in China

The freight forwarding industry in China, as described by Bey, has undergone significant transformations, especially in the wake of COVID-19. The pandemic era marked a golden period for freight forwarders, with skyrocketing freight rates and substantial profits. However, this period also exposed vulnerabilities, such as the industry's reliance on manual labor and the challenges of scaling operations amidst fluctuating demand and stringent COVID-19 restrictions. Post-pandemic, the sector faces the dual challenge of adapting to normalized freight rates while grappling with the inflationary pressures on salaries, a repercussion of the pandemic's wage hikes.

One of the most pronounced shifts observed by Bey is the evolution of China's logistical infrastructure. The pandemic catalyzed the development of secondary airports as significant cargo hubs, diversifying the logistical map but also complicating the freight forwarding process. This shift necessitates a more nuanced understanding of regional logistics, demanding extensive knowledge of local infrastructure and operational flexibility.



Strategic Adaptations and Innovations

Bey's journey through the industry highlights a series of strategic adaptations that have been crucial for navigating the complexities of freight forwarding in China. The expansion from a representative office to a fully-owned entity, for instance, underscores the importance of establishing a robust on-ground presence. This evolution enabled Bey's company to offer more comprehensive services, adapting to the logistical shifts and the emergence of new cargo hubs across China.

Innovation also plays a pivotal role. The case of efficiently handling milk powder shipments from Germany to China exemplifies how leveraging technology and innovative logistics solutions can address specific market needs while ensuring rapid delivery times. Moreover, Bey's focus on the Asian and African markets signifies the strategic pivot towards emerging markets, recognizing the diminishing marginal returns in more established markets.



The Digital Frontier and Future Prospects

Looking ahead, Bey points to digital transformation as both a challenge and an opportunity for the freight forwarding industry. 



The integration of digital platforms and the utilization of networks like 7Connetwork highlight the industry's shift towards more efficient, scalable solutions. However, the adoption of digital tools is not just about operational efficiency; it's also about enhancing connectivity within the industry, fostering collaborations, and improving the customer experience.




The freight forwarding industry in China, as detailed by Dennis Bey, stands at a crossroads marked by rapid technological advancements, shifting global trade patterns, and the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bey's insights shed light on the critical importance of adaptability, innovation, and strategic networking in navigating the complex landscape of freight forwarding in China. As the industry continues to evolve, these strategies will be pivotal in overcoming challenges and seizing new opportunities in the dynamic world of global logistics.


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