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Forwarders are still reluctant to fully embrace the digital revolution, with some 25% failing to provide adequate online contact and sales forms.

A survey of the world’s 20 largest forwarders, conducted by booking platform Freightos, also found that Kuehne + Nagel was the only one to prominently display a quote request form.

Principal analyst Nigel Fenwick from Forrester Research warned forwarders against failing to digitalise.

“Your company is likely to face extinction in the next 10 years, and while you may see it coming, you may not have enough time to save your company.”

Despite the prevalence of online B2B sales, only 15 of the top 20 forwarders have an online contact form, nine of which provide instant quoting or an ad hoc request for quotation forms.

And just two – Agility and K+N – had an instant less-than-containerload quoting system, although the report notes that Geodis has added this since.

“Customer-centric online sales can hardly be considered cutting edge when 64% of US households subscribe to Amazon Prime,” the report continues. “In the US, e-commerce now accounts for 9.1% of total retail sales.”

The report found many forwarders were missing out on business as a consequence of their digital reticence, the ocean sector in particular highlighted as a weak spot.

According to the report: “There has been more progress with digital freight sales in the air than on the ocean. Three top 20 forwarders now provide instant door-to-door air freight quotes, and two more are joining soon.”

While this shows a slight improvement since 2016, the report claims six of the online offerings are “too general” and fail to explicitly request everything required for quoting.

“In fact, four were only generic inquiry forms, and the remaining five companies [those that lacked an online request form] only provided an email contact,” says the report.

“Although these results are disappointing, there has in fact been a tremendous improvement since the first survey [2015], and quote requesting has become much more customer-friendly.”

Even so the report found there was “some way to go”, with five forwarders failing to confirm that quote requests had been submitted.

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  • jsmith2611@gmail.com

    March 28, 2018 at 5:50 pm

    What kind of freight forwarders are they talking about? Because I don’t think the likes of DHL or K&N are worried too much about picking up ad-hoc ocean LCL business. In fact, many forwaders don’t necessarily want “one-off” business. And most decision makers with any amount of volume aren’t going to make important freight decisions based off online quoting tools.

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