The freight forwarder is under siege. The air and ocean freight markets are experiencing fluctuating rates and capacity issues while competitive threats are on the rise. Meanwhile the uncertainty surrounding global trade dynamics is such that combined with air and ocean freight issues and rising competition, forwarders are seeking ways to differentiate themselves from the fragmented pack.
Technology Changing the Game
Investments in technology are underway among forwarders. According to a survey from Logistics Trends & Insights, 47% of respondents noted plans to invest in technology with 39% indicating technology to improve operational efficiencies. However, technology providers themselves are now considered competitors to such forwarders as DHL, DB Schenker and Kuehne + Nagel. These technology competitors offer online marketplaces that promote efficiency, real-time tracking and booking, collaboration, data analytics, attractive user interfaces and more. But one area in which many of these marketplaces really highlight is instant rate comparison and quote capabilities. Historically, rate information has been difficult to obtain in a timely manner.
Is it the End for Freight Forwarders?
While online marketplaces have captured quite a bit of attention, it is certainly not the end for traditional freight forwarders. Software solutions are being introduced into the market that allows shippers and carriers to integrate rate comparison and quotes into existing enterprise software. However, because the freight forwarding market is so fragmented, forwarders need to differentiate themselves. One way to do this is utilize software that is customizable and fits the forwarders’ brand.
Global Price Management (GPM) Quotation and WebQuote
PLS is recognized as one of the foremost authorities on software solutions for rate and allocation management. The GPM product portfolio can be integrated into any transportation management system (TMS) as well as CRM solutions for operational efficiencies. Linking to a CRM environment, such as SalesForce, ensures that a forwarder’s customer never receives a quote that is lower than rates that have already been quoted. When a salesperson enters an opportunity into the CRM, a GPM iframe can be automatically opened. This includes the pre-filled opportunity information and the relevant customer details. In addition, rates can be filled based on entered port-pair information and the final quotation can be sent to customer as email and/or PDF and stored in the CRM environment. WebQuote is an extension of the GPM quotation module, utilizing its auto-quote functionality. It allows a forwarder to build their own WebQuote tool on their website providing the forwarder’s customer the ability to enter such cargo details as port-port combination, cargo volume, departure dates etc. to receive an automatic rate quote. For each request, GPM checks whether a customer rate is already agreed and, if so, brings up this rate only. Otherwise, the system calculates the minimum sell rate (MSR) based on the stored buy rate and associated business rules and produces this for the customer. A booking extension is also available allowing the customer to immediately act upon the rate and transfer the relevant information into the TMS. Even if no TMS is connected, GPM has the ability to support the actual booking by creating manual booking details to the forwarder.As many customers like to shop around, looking for the best available rate, GPM WebQuote can create an opportunity in the CRM, thereby allowing sales to follow up and close the deal.