COVID-19 exposed the gaps. What’s next for freight forwarders?

News of the hour: In the blink of an eye, and amidst COVID-19, the entire freight market has been shocked into change. Frozen supply chains, fear, and panic have forced the whole market to digitize and adjust to a new reality. Those that don’t adapt will perish. 

Hold on. Let’s be real here. 

Yes, change is upon us, and digitalization is at the forefront of today’s reality. Yes, there is fear in the market, and technology is becoming more critical than ever. 

But the truth is that digital platforms have been the norm for industry leaders like Expeditors, DHL, and Kuehne + Nagel before COVID-19 shook our world. These companies have reaped the benefits of going digital for years, while the rest of the industry has remained stagnant. The current pandemic has only served to exacerbate their advantage. 

That’s the truth. 

In fact, In today’s digital landscape, visibility platforms are the single most significant lever that industry leaders are leveraging to win more business and arm their sales organization. Here’s why: 

Digital Platforms Increase Revenue From Existing Customers

We all know that the most efficient way for any company to boost sales is by increasing the revenues from their existing customer base. In freight forwarding, however, this has proven tremendously challenging. Freight forwarders have continuously competed with each other on price and service, instead of focusing on the actual problem: Why is it so easy for customers to work with other companies simply because they have been outbid by cents on the dollar? 

The answer to the question is quite simple. The service freight forwarders provide is not sticky, and the switching costs from one provider to another is extremely low. This paradigm is a consistent problem, leading to low customer lifetime values and high churn rates. No matter how hard companies try, price, and service will not solve this. Something else is needed. 

Enter technology – the paradigm shift. 

Purposeful technology is both sticky and difficult to replace. Visibility platforms allow companies to engrain themselves more deeply into their customer’s day-to-day operations, making their services more valuable and irreplaceable.

This is what the industry leaders have figured out. 

By providing solutions like visibility, analytics, and reporting to their customers, large freight forwarders have built trust, provided control, and driven engagement through digital channels. They’ve used technology to crawl deeper into their customers’ supply chains to become stickier, increase customer expenditures, and avoid churn. Technology is the most significant asset that large freight forwarders use to increase revenues from existing customers. 

Visibility Drives Sales Into New Accounts

Similarly, implementing better customer-facing technology is the biggest thing that companies use to amplify their success selling into new accounts. 

Picture your VP of sales, jumping into a sales call to pitch your services to a new prospect. Presently, they’d be armed with low rates for trade lanes, historical information about your company, and detailed information about your service and expertise. While all of this is valuable, the reality is that every freight forwarder is offering the same thing. It’s near impossible to carve out differentiation and parse through the noise. 

Now imagine a VP of sales running the same process, but starting with a short and intuitive demo of the value that their visibility and technology platform can deliver. A centralized and intuitive hub that grants visibility, control, and enhances decision making through rich analytics. 

Rates and service being equal, who stands to win the business? Nine times out of ten, the latter does. Arming sales teams with better technology is the most important thing companies can do to win new business. 

The New Reality

Now here’s the challenge: Visibility platforms are disruptive and incredibly expensive to build and maintain. They’ve been reserved for industry giants, so how can you find a way to leverage them?

The good news is that leveling up is becoming simpler and faster than ever before. Software providers are filling in the gaps and offering solutions that allow the rest of the market to adjust to the new industry standard quickly, and at a fraction of the cost. 

That’s where we come in. We feel your pain. We worked in freight forwarding and couldn’t stand that there wasn’t a visibility solution to take us into the digital age, so we decided to build one for forward-thinking freight forwarders. 

Our mission is simple – we are here to even the playing field and allow freight forwarders to transition to the digital age. 

If you are a freight forwarding company thinking about today’s new reality and how to best position yourself for the future, we’d love to chat with you. 

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