2016: The Year of Online Transition
The world’s largest freight forwarders and carriers are making the online transition, research from Freightos has found. But forwarders sticking to manual process are at risk of getting left behind.
Freightos, a company that offers a cloud-based system for freight bookings, conducted a mystery shopping survey of twenty top forwarders to see how much the talk has been backed
up with results. “So far, it’s mostly talk, but also a little action,” said the Freightos report.
Technology uptake showed small improvements, the research found, but most forwarders’ processes are still manual, and appear to be getting slower. It took on average 101 hours (four days) to provide a simple manual spot quote, 11 hours longer than in 2015.
It took an average of 15 hours to personally follow up a quote request (versus seven hours in 2015), only nine out of the 20 forwarders provided a quote (the same number as last year), and only three subsequently followed up (one less than in the previous survey).
“For most forwarders, automation and online sales are not yet a reality,” the report concluded.
For forwarders making the online transition, digital marketing attracts buyers to the company website, but research revealed that only 30 percent of these top twenty forwarders use paid search to drive website traffic, and only 20 percent publish blogs.
The website encourages potential buyers to request quotes, and the top forwarders have made most progress in this area. Seven forwarders already have an easily located dedicated freight quote form. Two of them are prominently featured on the home page (one more than last year).
“Tech-enabled forwarders excel here,” the report concluded.
As far as the automation of back end processes, one top forwarder has shown that it can be done for responding to less-than-containerload (LCL) quote requests. “There is much more back end processing that can be automated,” the report noted, “such as following up on the quote, booking and sale automation, payments, and track and trace.”
The online transition may shaping the freight industry’s biggest change since the container. “Yes, it takes time for an industry to change,” concluded the report, “but a new generation of shippers
expects online service. And, from Amazon to online forwarders, there is no shortage of competitors entering the market.”