Freight forwarders are failing to meet customer expectations

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Freight forwarders are finally embracing digitalisation but their failure to meet customer expectations is holding them back, Freightos’ third annual Mystery Shopper report has found.

Though the report found that there has been greater progress in embracing digital sales in air freight forwarding services than in the ocean, only three of the top 20 forwarders provide instant door to door airfreight quotes, though two more will do shortly.

There were some worrying findings including that forwarders who quote manually took 57 hours on average, 72 per cent failed to quote and there was an average 58 per cent price spread.

Freightos chief executive officer, Zvi Schreiber says the customer centric message is getting through, adding: “The challenge is daunting, and by no means unique to freight. But our industry, after all, is a service-based industry. It’s no surprise logistics providers are leveraging technology to make life better for shippers.”

Acting as a mystery shopper using the name and details of a rapidly expanding US e-commerce company, Freightos requested quotes while providing all the necessary details upfront and claiming they currently used a competitor.

Only 15 of the top 20 forwarders had an online contact form, of which nine were either instant quoting or ad hoc request for quotation, the other six were too general and the remaining five only provided email contact.

The quote request was also frustrating with only Kuehne + Nagel prominently placing the request form on their homepage, with forms for 11 other companies being straightforward to find.

Some of the forms proved challenging, with one neglecting to request basic information including shipment ready date, and five forwarders failed to confirm that the quote request had been submitted.

Of the 18 companies who did not quote instantly, only five eventually gave a quote while there were still issues with errors when using manual processes, and prices were still opaque with a spread of up to 58 per cent.

The sales process was not good enough, with only four providing a positive response to the request before quoting, with two follow ups proving poor, one sent another required form for completion and the other requesting information that had already been provided.

Forwarders who requested manual quotes took on average 57 hours and of the seven forwarders who quoted, only three followed up to close the deal.

The report says forwarders and carriers looking to survive and thrive the must create customer-facing solutions and view freight through their customers’ eyes.