Freightos report finds forwarders not engaging enough digitally

Freightos founder and chief executive officer (CEO), Zvi Schreiber
Freightos founder and chief executive officer, Zvi Schreiber

A survey by logistics tech company Freightos into whether top freight forwarders are engaging in digital marketing and online sales has found so far it is “mostly talk and little action’.

The ‘mystery shopper’ report focused on the world’s top 20 freight forwarders in late 2016 to see the state of online freight sales.

Freightos submitted identical quote requests for an LCL shipment from China to Chicago, purportedly from a rapidly growing mid-sized US-based wholesale company. It says when dedicated quote request pages were lacking, contact forms on websites were used and when those were lacking, no quote requests were submitted.

Results found Kuehne + Nagel is the first major forwarder to instantly quote multiple modes on their website without a paywall.

And Freightos says most forwarder’s processes are still manual and it took on average 101 hours (four days) to provide a simple manual spot quote, 11 hours longer than in 2015.

The survey also found it took an average of 15 hours to personally follow up a quote request (seven hours in 2015), while only nine out of 20 forwarders provided a quote (the same number as last year), and only three subsequently followed up (one less than in the previous survey).

It also found selling online is much more successful when potential buyers are being drawn to the website via digital marketing techniques and a supplementary digital marketing research survey of the same forwarders, revealing only 30 per cent use paid search (PPC) to drive website traffic, and only 20 per cent publish blogs.

Freightos says there are implications and top forwarders may be focusing on other priorities for now, but there are some signs of change behind the scenes.

However, it  notes competitors are already making their moves to digitise freight sales, and gain market share at the expense of top forwarders, including online forwarder start-ups, mid-sized forwarders, carriers and tech giants like Amazon, Alibaba and Uber.

Chief executive officer, Dr. Zvi Schreiber (pictured above) says: “While it’s true that freight may be incredibly convoluted; other industries, like banking, faced tougher challenges in their transition.

“The top forwarders have the inside running for now, but there are winners and losers. It’s not yet clear how the race will end, but it is clear that the online race is well and truly on.”