Guest Blog Post by Alex van Kampen
Head of Product/CTO, Cargobase

Annually, the logistics community gathers at renowned trade shows. This year was no exception. In June 2019, Cargobase joined the community of logistics providers, carriers, shippers and other transportation aficionados at the Transport Logistic Exhibition held in Munich, Germany. 

It’s “that time of the year again” where we network, huddle, commiserate, put our best foot forward, our best services on display and show off our latest dance moves, as aptly demonstrated by Senator International. We had the privilege of catching up with many of our users on both the shipper and freight forwarding side.

There seemed to be a trend amongst all of the large freight forwarders of promoting their latest portals and tech solutions designed to better support their shippers. This is of course something that we applaud and support wholeheartedly. The more digitization of logistics, the better. The industry as a whole is experiencing a paradigm shift, where tech investment is now considered a necessity, rather than an opportunity for better business outcomes. 

Cue Drumroll

A very large – not to be named – multi-modal freight forwarder, had their latest prototype “customer portal” on display. The demonstrated mockups looked good, the marketing pitches were smooth, and the overall spend on the booth was surely north of 6-figures. At Cargobase, we strive to optimize the purchasing, management and overall control of a shipper spot-buy freight, so any platform that allows us to better live up to that promise is very welcome. This said particular multi-modal freight forwarder has quoted on thousands of shipments on our platform, so them finally having a modern tech stack that could integrate with our platform would not only save them a lot of time, but would also allow our shippers to receive their rates and updates quicker and in greater detail – or so we thought. 

When the potential of integration was brought up in discussion, we were surprised to learn the following: (in verbatim) Our board has decided not to open this platform up for external integrations or partnerships. We believe that our competitive advantage lies in our customer service, and not technology. 

We could not believe this at first, so we analyzed some of their quoting patterns on the platform and oh boy; let’s just say they need to have the friendliest of sales staff if they want to live up to that promise of putting customer service before technology. 

It’s Logic, Not Magic. 

When comparing response times, i.e.: the successful submission of a quote after a request by the shipper, they average at 2456 minutes or almost 2 full business days before responding. The top forwarders quote well within 2 hours and many within the first 60 minutes. Not to mention the parties that have actual quoting solutions to integrate with to receive near-real-time rates. 

Having capable and accessible customer support is great and with that; you can make a difference. But interjecting manual effort into a process that can – and should – be fully automated is not great customer service. 

Providing adequate (spot) rates upon a customer request, or better yet ahead-of-times when you expect a customer to request capacity, that, is great customer service. 

We know that approximately 60% of requested spot shipments have a quoting deadline within 24 hours, of which actually 90% has a deadline within 4 hours. Having the nicest and friendliest staff is great, but when they are done cross-referencing a spreadsheet you’ve already lost 6 shipments. 

Woody Allen once famously stated that “80% of success is showing up” and while we’re not sure that number translates directly onto the spot-quoting market, it is abundantly clear that if you want to show up, you need to be quick enough to respond.