"Yes. We have available containers and capacity. Yes, we'd love to accept your freight. I understand you need it to leave the port by tomorrow night. Okay. Great. I'll get the quote together.” [Tomorrow comes and no response. The quote arrives 10 minutes before you needed freight to depart.] “Hi again. Here’s the price; it’s $110 more than usual. Also, we can pick it up in three days.” [In your head, you wonder what happened to the next-day pickup we discussed?]
While that’s an extreme example, it represents the risk of waiting too long for an ocean container quote. In the global economy, time is of the essence. Failure to deliver will alienate customers. Failure to give shippers a timely quote will lead to lost contracts. It's a grim outlook, but technology is changing the game. Now, freight forwarders, for their shipper customers, could stop with the time-sucking nature of manual quotes and finally realize faster, better, and more accurate ocean freight quotes.
Freight forwarders that cannot provide the fastest quote to shippers will see fewer bookings, found freight forwarder conference attendees at a recent event held by the Digital Container Shipping Association. Every industry can operate with standardized, immediate information sharing, so why can't shippers and carriers get on the same page? Unfortunately, only two of the top 12 carriers use APIs to allow for forwarders to offer instantaneous quotes. Meanwhile, margins remain super thin, and the costs of adopting new technologies continue to decline. Failure to leverage technology will leave shippers on the hook for missed deliveries. No one really cares if it was the forwarder’s or the carrier's fault. End customers blame the shipper. So, the shipper is the one that forwarders need to please, despite challenges in securing capacity. Now, forwarders are taking notice and offering a way to better manage and prioritize bookings and provide faster quotes. They realize shippers see shipping as an immediate need, not something to look forward to tomorrow.
The same principle is reiterated continuously by big-box retailers. "Free delivery tomorrow. Free delivery Friday. Free delivery today." The only thing missing is delivery yesterday, and while time travel seems out of touch, freight forwarders know they need something better than manual ocean container quoting. Plus, failure to use real-time information also results in an approximate loss of $110 per container due to inaccurate quoting and delays report FreightWaves in a recent study. “For instance, in an October 2019 update, DHL Global Forwarding gives a global container trade estimate this year of about 151.2 million TEU." Applying that number of $110 means a global loss of more than $16 billion due to late, delayed quoting, and lost opportunities per year.
Shippers have a deadline to move freight. With the rise of just-in-time order fulfillment and dropshipping strategies, the slightest delay or upset could lead to missed deliveries. Also, shippers all compete in the e-commerce space regardless of their location. As a result, shippers focus on the first shipping option that meets their needs. This might be a preset threshold for total shipping cost and timeliness of delivery. So, the first forwarder that makes their price known will win on the global stage. It is that simple. Besides, today's shippers expect transparency, notes Eric Johnson of the Journal of Commerce. “Beyond just investment, ocean carriers (and forwarders) would have to move away from a culture that has long prioritized rate opacity over transparency.” More transparency and faster quoting also restore trust in the industry, while giving shippers some power in price control.
It's time to tackle the elephant in the room. Shippers want the fastest quotes. Forwarders want to increase shipping volume. Shippers want speedier service. Forwarders make more money when they offer faster service. It's a win-win for all involved. Forwarders that leverage technologies can avoid delays in processing, especially since the most significant factor goes back to tendering the shipment. Without a plan for shipping, freight sits still. So, shippers need real-time information that doesn't interfere with their other responsibilities. The answer is simple. Shippers, through their forwarding partners, need an automated way to request an ocean container quote and select carriers. They need integrated systems. They need a platform that leverages an easy-to-use code to connect existing systems. They need an API that pools all carriers into a single resource and can use algorithms to transform rate quotes and selection into a smart, intuitive, and self-sufficient process.
"If you please hold, I'll get you that quote for today's next-day shipment first thing tomorrow night," said no forwarder ever. There's a reason for that. No one has time to wait for 16 or more hours for an ocean container quote. So, why are you willing to do that to your customers? We know you don’t mean it, but it’s what happens when you rely on traditional, manual ocean container quote processes. Avoid the pitfalls of a manual, expensive, and time-consuming ocean container quote by implementing an API-based, modern solution. Visit SimpliShip to get in touch with us about our APIs and platform today.