Five forwarders continue to lead online sales charge

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Freight forwarders have improved their ability to provide instant quotes digitally, but this is led by the same group of five companies with others lagging behind.

The latest annual mystery shopper report from booking portal Freightos showed that its research showed that more than 25% of digitally requested quotes were provided instantly by forwarders, carriers and digital forwarders, compared with 18% last year and up from zero when the survey started five years ago.

But overall, 70% of requests still did not result in a quote being received.

Like last year, 60% of forwarders have quote request forms easily found on their sites, with one more featured on the main page this year. For the rest it is still hard to find, or done via contact us/email.

Almost half of all requests to forwarders, carriers and digital forwarders resulted in follow-up by phone or email.

And only two of the top 20 forwarders added more instant quoting capabilities this year: DHL added instant quoting for less-than-container-load (LCL) requests to its instant air offering, and Kuehne+Nagel – the first of the top forwarders to offer instant LCL booking — added full container load (FCL), joining Agility in offering instant quotes for all three modes (LCL, FCL and Air).

Freightos said that since 2015 nearly all the progress across top tier forwarders has been concentrated among the same group of five forwarders: Agility, DB Schenker, DHL, Kuehne+Nagel and UPS.

Freightos said that this could be due to these forwarders focusing in on small and medium (SME) shippers.

The company pointed out that larger shippers may want a more personal service, rather than booking online, where they can use their buying power to negotiate better prices.

Other forwarders may therefore be targeting digital investment at providing value-added digital services, such as track and trace, for these larger customers.

However, Freightos pointed out that SME shippers are increasingly important as a result of the pandemic.

Freightos Group founder and chief executive Zvi Schreiber said: “It’s been gratifying to see a quarter of the top 20 3PLs adopting the vision of digitised freight in just the last five years, providing better customer service with a lower cost of sale.

“It is a little perplexing to see others still serving shippers in the same way they have for the last century. Millennial freight procurement professionals asked to wait days for a quote will take their freight spend elsewhere.”

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Damian Brett

Damian Brett
I have been writing about the freight and logistics industry since 2007 when I joined International Freighting Weekly to cover the shipping sector.After a stint in PR, I have gone on to work for Containerisation International and Lloyds List - where I was editor of container shipping - before joining Air Cargo News in 2015.Contact me on [email protected]