Forwarders urged to automate sales online to attract SMEs as freight customers
THE world's leading freight forwarders have been improving their digital services, with seven forwarders now expecting their customers to use a general inquiry form, down from 11 in 2015
THE world's leading freight forwarders have been improving their digital services, with seven forwarders now expecting their customers to use a general inquiry form, down from 11 in 2015.
Respondents of the annual Freightos Mystery Shopper Survey showed that 11 of the top 20 freight forwarders provide a dedicated request for quotation form online, up from just three in 2015.
However, two forwarders still do not provide an online form, although one of these provided an email address, down from six in 2015, reported London's Air Cargo News.
Looking specifically at the air mode, Agility this year joined DHL Global Forwarding, Kuehne + Nagel and UPS in providing an instant online quote.
Freightos highlighted that Kuehne + Nagel even breaks its online airfreight offering down into three different service levels: KN Express, KN Expert and KN Extend.
Another - unnamed forwarder - was able to respond within a day, three more provided a manual quote taking between two hours and 19 days, with an average response time of 122 hours, and 12 did not issue a response at all.
'Though response rates have improved, 60 per cent of the time forwarders still fail to respond to a potential new customer, effectively passing up on a red-hot lead,' Freightos said.
It said there was 'still a massive range' of prices among the service quotations offered, resulting in a 134 per cent spread between the highest and lowest quote, ranging from US$531 to $1,245 for a shipment from China to the US.
Freightos said: 'With sales automation, the burgeoning but previously mostly overlooked SME market becomes a lucrative growth market for global forwarders.
'We're confident that in less than five years the majority of global forwarders will be selling freight online.'
It called on forwarders to take this new channel seriously, and 'offer competitive prices that reflect the cheaper cost to serve, improving sales and operations efficiency, and adopting a mindset of digital support to customers, whether related to a specific shipment or a broader supply chain.'