Over the years, the process of obtaining freight rates has been one marked with numerous inefficiencies including the length of time it takes to obtain a quote and then turning that quote quickly into a booking.
The rise of online freight marketplaces have been seen as a way to correct these inefficiencies but are they really doing this?
Improving the Rate Quote and Booking Process
First off, one needs to understand what exactly an online freight marketplace is. They are designed to give shippers the option to primarily access and book rates directly from carriers whether ocean, air, truck or rail as well as rates from forwarders. In addition, shipment visibility is provided along with various reporting tools and analytics. The idea behind many of these marketplaces is to reduce the time and paperwork that has perplexed the freight industry for years and to enable the industry to act as most other industries do today, where most things can be done online.
A series of articles from the online freight news website, The Loadstar, highlights some concerns of these marketplaces. Firstly, online freight marketplaces are not all inclusive. That is, not all routes are available. Secondly, when testing one trade lane, the results varied and were incomplete from reporting either only a single 40ft container from one marketplace to only a less-than-container load for another.
There is also the question of specialty shipments such as hazardous or cold chain. According to Loadstar’s test, results for a hazardous shipment often come back with no results. Cold chain shipments were not tested, but one can speculate that the results most likely would be similar.
Many of the online freight marketplaces defend themselves by noting they are working towards global services but have not yet completed full development. This may indeed be the case and who knows, within the next 10-20 years they may successfully expand routes and options.
How to Really Improve the Rate Quote and Booking Process
But if we assume that online freight marketplaces are indeed the future, then a big question that forwarders and carriers should ask themselves is how can they differentiate themselves on such platforms. The challenge is that a user will often only look at a few search results – the Google search issue – and what a lot of especially forwarders offer will be based on the same service as what the carriers provide? And how do you show your uniqueness and your better service when most people visiting such places often focus on price and will struggle to evaluate the many different options they are presented with?
Fortunately, there are other ways to improve efficiencies within rate quotes and turning these into bookings and they are available now. PLS provides such solutions within its Global Price Management (GPM) tool via its WebQuote module.
WebQuote, an extension of the GPM quotation module, allows a forwarder, to build their own WebQuote tool on their website providing the forwarder’s customer the ability to enter cargo details, e.g. port-port combination, cargo volume, departure dates etc. and then receive an automatic rate quote. GPM can then support the process of turning the found rate into a booking, greatly improving efficiency for both the customer and forwarder.
For each search, the system calculates the minimum sell rate (MSR) and produces this for the customer via GPM’s sophisticated sales mark-up approach. This allows a forwarder to specify the exact mark-up to be added to the shown rate, be it down to an individual port-pairing, commodity or day of the week. Furthermore, if the forwarder wants to have the WebQuote part be closed and only available for those customers who have received access, GPM can connect to the CRM system and will then always check whether a customer rate is already agreed and, if so, brings up this rate only and can produce an opportunity for the forwarder if the customer ends up not booking.
Find out more
Interested in learning more? Check out our website
and while you’re there, schedule a demo
to see GPM WebQuote in action.