Freight Rate Management

Seafreight, Airfreight, Rail freight, Inland rates, precarriage, oncarriage – how to manage the tariff and local charges

Future in freight forwarding

The Future of Technology in Freight Forwarding

The progress in technology development doesn’t stand still, constantly improving user experience in every field – no exception for the freight forwarding industry.

Everyone is talking about the application of digital technologies in logistics which has to revolutionize the business, and many industry players are getting lost in the amount of information on the subject.

At the same time, nobody wants to miss out on the next ‘UBER’ that will disrupt the traditional industry with the brand-new business idea based on the brand-new modern technology.

We have prepared an overview of the ‘hyped’ technologies, using simple words. Below you will find the list of the hottest trends when it comes to the future in the logistics industry.

 

The Blockchain in Freight Forwarding

 

Blockchain became the buzzword in the freight forwarding industry in 2018, when Maersk Line signed the contract with IBM and started working on developing the common platform for the world’s supply chain called the TradeLens. 

Since the start, more and more players who represent different supply chain sectors have been joining the initiative, making it the largest collaborative project in the industry since Inttra. However, some big companies are concerned about Maersk sitting on the main chair and enforcing the rules on everyone else and are naturally hesitant to share their data with the competitor.

You can read more about the blockchain and its applications in logistics in our articles.

 

SaaS and Cloud Technology

 

Cloud Computing is about placing and storing your data in a virtual space, a.k.a. a cloud. This technology is very popular among private users. Think of Dropbox or iCloud on your iPhone. In the business world, companies were required to buy, build, and maintain their IT infrastructures despite the exponential costs. Until the SaaS. 

SaaS (Software as a Service) has a lot to offer to the business. If it’s used properly, it can help save money, time, and human resources. But what about data safety? Usually, SaaS companies use Cloud platforms from large service providers, such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc. making it the safest possible storage space.

You can read more about SaaS (Software as a Service) and Cloud Technology in our articles.

 

The Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT)

 

Over the past several years, the logistics industry has started to invest in Artificial Intelligence solutions. The AI includes intelligent transport & route planning, supply & demand planning, sales automation tools — but this is only just the beginning. 

Internet of Things (IoT) means connecting to the Internet any item equipped with sensors and communicators, with the ability to control it automatically and remotely.

From last-mile delivery robots and smart ports, to warehouse automated systems and business optimization software, AI and IoT are already making a difference in logistics. In addition, 5G opens up fundamentally new possibilities, including broadcasting data at a speed of 20 GB/s.

Shippers, carriers, suppliers, and consumers can all expect to benefit from these logistics technology trends in the 2020s.

We have prepared a number of articles about the future of technology in freight forwarding. We will cover the hottest trends and their potential application to logistics and freight rate management.

Stay tuned!

Win rate in Freight Forwarding

What’s the Win Rate in Freight Forwarding?

The importance of having transparency in sales activities is crucial for any business, but in freight forwarding, transparency has never been the case.

It is very difficult to know how many freight quotes have been sent today, this week, or this month. It is almost impossible to monitor the margins on freight and local charges in those quotes. Sales managers must rely on unstructured and often biased information.

The lack of transparency is also an issue for sales reps themselves – they often have to search for the actual valid freight rates in various files and emails, use Word or Excel templates to prepare quotes, and save them on the shared drive. If there is no process for the follow-up, it is impossible to improve the results.

 

Why Data is Important in Freight Forwarding?

 

If you are responsible for delivering on a sales target, the key to gaining control of the revenue is to have real-time access to your sales performance. By knowing the below metrics, you and your team can perform on a different level:

  • number of quotes sent per day / week / month
  • number of accepted quotes per day / week / month
  • number of new clients added per day / week / month
  • rate levels and rate changes in real-time
  • average margin
  • win rate

If you do not have this information, delivering your sales KPIs is guesswork. Studies show that when employees know their performance and have an instant overview of their KPIs, they improve their work. Focus, motivation, and accountability come when teams can see where everyone stands in just a glance.

 

Delivering the Transparency 

 

Transparency in freight sales can only be achieved when both rates and quoting are managed via the same platform. Quotiss provides such a platform for the freight forwarders.

Step One: Upload the Ratesheets

In Quotiss you can upload sea, rail, and air freight rates and pricing guidelines via an easy template. The uploaded and published rates become available to the sales team right away.

Step Two: Create and Send a Quote

Generate fully customizable freight quotes, which can be emailed to customers directly thanks to the smooth email integration. Follow up on the quote status – mark the accepted or declined quotes accordingly.

Step Three: Visualize and Analyze

Quotiss dashboard is a powerful visualization tool that shows a history of rates per carrier, customer statistics, sent and accepted quotes per person or team, average margins, etc. All data is available in real-time, automatically.

Quotiss dashboard brings all your KPIs and critical metrics into a user-friendly display. It keeps everyone in the sales team on the same page when it comes to sales performance, enabling better communication and collaboration across the teams. It also allows us to set measurable goals and get immediate feedback.

Quotiss can give a quick boost to the transparency and efficiency of your freight forwarding business.

Click here to register your company online. We’ll activate your company’s profile and help with the initial settings and user onboarding. You can start uploading your freight ratesheets and quoting freight instantly from Quotiss on the same day we sign the deal.

Quotiss Software

Quotiss Success Story – 3 Years Anniversary

January 26, 2017, is the official birthday of Quotiss and the starting point of our exciting journey as a company! On this day, we’d like to share our story of how it all began, starting from ‘the big idea’ which became our mission and brand philosophy.

 

Marcin Zarzecki, CEO of Quotiss:

“Container shipping is one of the most important industries in the world, connecting markets and making the world smaller and the economy bigger. Ever since I joined Maersk Line in 2003 as a management trainee, I was fascinated by this business. I changed many departments and worked in many countries, from Poland to Kenya, to Belgium and India. The job was very rewarding, but at times frustrating – the tools and the business procedures that we’ve got were far from being optimal. There had to be a better way.”

 

Margarita Tokareva, COO of Quotiss:

“I spent 10 years working for Maersk Line in different countries (Italy, Spain, Russia, India). My focus was on process improvement in sales, mainly on performance optimization and software implementation projects. In 2015 I participated in the project with the aim to simplify and automate quoting to customers together with Marcin. We’ve been brainstorming and we realized that there is a simple and smart way to simplify the rate management in container shipping, Not just for one specific shipping line, but for any company out there on the container shipping market.”

The big idea got stuck – a smart and simple software solution that will automate freight rates in container shipping.

 

From Container Shipping to Software

 

It took about a year to nurture the idea and make sure that it makes sense. A lot of brainstorming was needed to develop a clear vision of what it could be like, look like, and feel like. But having a vision and a plan is not enough, and in order to move on, we had to start acting upon it.

The first steps included a lot of learning. We met a lot of like-minded people, potential investors, ‘business angels’, and mentors and learned so much about being an entrepreneur.

It became clear that we need a partner who will take care of the IT side of the project – that’s when Michal Polak joined us as a co-founder.

Michal Polak, CTO of Quotiss:

“I joined Marcin and Margarita in the summer of 2016. I liked their big idea, but to be honest I was shocked and couldn’t believe that such a giant industry operates on Excel ratesheets. I accepted the challenge, and it took me a few weeks to prepare a very simple software prototype, which was good enough to demonstrate to the potential clients and get the initial market feedback. Marcin showed the prototype to a number of clients – and there was a clear interest in the market. It was a green light to start the software development full speed ahead. We felt very excited and inspired!”

 

 

Quotiss on the Software Market

 

We took the practical approach – we listened to our clients. Based on their feedback, we planned new features development, product improvements, and set priorities.  It was a very long process of making sure we get it right.

Customer satisfaction is very important for our business. Clients do appreciate constant care and quick response to their requests. Also, they often come up with improvement ideas themselves and we usually react very fast.

By now, our client base covers large geography: freight forwarders from Poland, Lithuania, Russia, Italy, Switzerland, Romania, and China use Quotiss to manage freight rates and freight quotes.

 

Why Quotiss?

 

The name Quotiss combines the word ‘Quote’ (a verb used in shipping which means ‘to prepare a commercial offer to a client’) and ‘ISS’, which comes from the KISS Principle (Keep It Smart and Simple). It perfectly describes what the software does – it prepares freight quotes in a smart and simple way!

 

What’s Next?

 

Behind every business, there is a lot of hard work. In order to stay afloat, one has to constantly improve the service and the product. We have ambitious plans for 2019 – new software modules are coming soon and the growth pace is up.

Our clients are the best motivators for us. They use our software on a regular basis, sending hundreds of quotes daily. It makes us proud!

freight ratesheets quotiss

The Art of Spreadsheeting: How to Complicate Freight Ratesheets? (Part 2)

by Marcin Zarzecki, CEO of Quotiss

This is the second part of the article, which covers the numerous errors in freight ratesheets distributed by the shipping lines. In the first article, I illustrated that there is a clear lack of unified standards across the carriers. Even within the same shipping company different offices use different formats when it comes to preparation and distribution of the freight ratesheets.

In this post, I will dig deeper into the discrepancies we’ve witnessed during our freight simplification journey at Quotiss. I will not give the names of the carriers for obvious reasons, but I can assure you that there is no single carrier in the world that has their rates structured to the optimal level.

So far, we’ve covered the most common discrepancies:

  • Rate structure

  • Delivery method

  • Local exceptions

Now let’s look at other examples when things go bad because of the lack of standardization and proper tools.

 

Inconsistency in Location Names

 

 Shanghai is one of the biggest ports in China and in the whole of Far East Asia. Shanghai port is included in the rotation of all major shipping lines.

When you look for Shanghai in a freight ratesheet, you can see the following variations of its name: “Shanghai”, “Shanghai, CN”, “Shanghai, China”, “CNSGH”, “CNSHA” or even “China Main Ports” which sometimes is shortened to ‘CMP’ or ‘ECMP’ (for East China). These names are not commonly provided as a standard unified code (UNLOCODE).

The same carrier can use different abbreviations for the same port. We also witnessed the situation, where the carrier had one set of NCMP (North China Main Ports) in one contract and another set of NCMP in the other contract. Both contracts were sent to the same freight forwarder within the same week!

 

Inconsistency in Freight Surcharges

 

Freight rates consist of basic freight (BAS) and freight surcharges. Some freight surcharges are already included into BAS and some are excluded (quoted separately). There is no regulation of including or excluding freight surcharges and it can vary across the same carrier contract.

For example, in week 1, the bunker surcharge can be included in the basic freight rate. In week 2, the bunker surcharge is given as a separate freight surcharge. In week 3, the bunker surcharge is again included into the basic freight rate. This is common practice.

Obviously, there is no unified naming convention for the surcharges. For example, bunker surcharge can be abbreviated as BAF, SBF, or BUC. Low sulfur surcharge can be called LSS, LSF, or ECA – depending on the carrier you use.

 

Inconsistency in the Outport Rates

 

Many shipping lines provide the main port rates and attach a separate table with the outport additionals. For example, BAS for Shanghai – Hamburg is 1000 USD / FFE, and Hong Kong is 50 USD / FFE on top of Shanghai, which means that BAS for Hong Kong – Hamburg is 1050 USD / FFE. When Shanghai – Hamburg rate changes, Hong Kong additional remains the same – 50 USD / FFE on top of Shanghai. This is a relatively easy way to present the rates, as statistically, main port rates change more often, than outport additionals. This makes a lot of sense, and it saves time and resources on the rate reprocessing.

But we’ve seen freight ratesheets with all-in main port rates and a separate page with all-in rates for the outports. There is no logical commercial explanation for this – just a clear lack of proper tools.

 

Consequences

 

All these inconsistencies are both the cause and effect of the broken shipping process. They make it impossible to digitize pricing and bring the quoting online.

  • Shipping lines waste time and resources on sending bulky freight ratesheets and struggle with invoice quality, losing millions on internal inefficiencies;
  • Freight forwarders receive hundreds of freight ratesheets in unstructured and inconsistent formats, waste their time processing the data and struggle with the invoice quality;
  • Shippers wait for freight quotes for hours and deal with the inconsistencies in the formats.

Some industry players vote against displaying freight rates online, as it may start the price wars and drive the margins down. Commercially valid reason. But still, there is no logical explanation for the mess in the pricing of the shipping lines.

What about the freight marketplace, where a client can compare the rates of different carriers and book his freight online automatically with the selected provider? What about digital freight forwarders, who promise a fully automated service from A to Z?

Any automation must start with the standardization. In the case of container shipping, it must start with the simplification.

We believe that until all shipping lines agree to use the same port naming convention, unify trade and port surcharge structure, and agree on the way the rates are presented and distributed to the client, it will be very difficult to build a platform to compare shipping rates online.

Once the pricing is simplified, the quoting can be dramatically improved, as we do it in Quotiss.

Click here to register online. We’ll activate your company’s profile and help with the initial settings and user onboarding. You can start uploading your freight ratesheets and quoting freight instantly on the same day we sign the deal.

freight ratesheets quotiss

The Art of Spreadsheeting: How to Complicate Freight Ratesheets? (Part 1)

by Marcin Zarzecki, CEO of Quotiss

There are many good things one can say about container shipping and its global impact on the world economy. But shipping lines are also very well known for sending very complex and unstructured freight ratesheets. During my time in Maersk, where I spent over 10 years in the sales function, I was often struggling with the challenges of the pricing and quoting policies, despite Maersk being one of the most advanced carriers and the global leader in this aspect.

One of the reasons why I started Quotiss 2 years ago was to simplify ocean tariff management. By this time, we have collected a lot of data.

By now, I have seen thousands of freight ratesheets from various shipping lines, and I had time to analyze their structure very thoroughly. Conclusions are surprising and not too cheerful: this tremendous complexity comes from the internal inefficiencies and ‘broken’ processes of the shipping lines themselves.

 

The Data

The analysis is based on the data collected from the ocean tariffs that are uploaded into the Quotiss software by freight forwarders. The data has a healthy mix of various parameters:

–         Freight forwarders who use Quotiss software work with most of the major shipping lines – we studied the specific rate formats of all major ocean carriers;

–        Freight forwarders who use Quotiss software come from different parts of the world – we studied the differences in the rate format based on the specific country/office which prepared the rate sheet;

–        Freight forwarders who use Quotiss software work with shippers in different industries – we studied the differences in the NAC / special freight rates/exceptions format.

The Analysis

 

Let’s look at Far East Asia – Europe ratesheet generated by one of the major shipping lines.

1.      The structure

This rate sheet contains 15 000 port pairs, 109 000 lines with rates and surcharges, 545 000 unique rates for all equipment types. It is 500 000+ unique rates in a single freight ratesheet for just one trade/direction, with the validity of 2 weeks maximum.

 

2.      The delivery method

This freight ratesheet has been emailed to a freight forwarder as Excel file in attachment. Freight rates on the Asia-Europe corridor change very often, sometimes even a couple of times per week. Let’s assume, the average update frequency is weekly. This means, that every week, a bulk load of freight ratesheets with half a million rates each is generated and sent by email to hundreds of freight forwarders globally.

That is 500 MILLION unique freight rates that are being updated and distributed on the market, all by just one shipping line on one trade/direction.

 

3.      Local specifics

Everyone in the industry knows that different shipping lines send their freight ratesheets in different formats, like .xls, .pdf, or just copy-paste Excel table to the email body. But only a few people know that even within the same shipping line, different offices might use different templates and formats. Sometimes, even within the same office, salespeople send freight rates in different formats.

These format discrepancies within one company usually come from the big list of exceptions that are specific to the country/port.

There is a clear lack of the unified standard across the ocean carriers, which comes from the lack of standard software solutions that would be capable to cater for the giant list of local exceptions in an automated way.

 

The Conclusion

 

The saddest part is that over 99% of contents inside these freight ratesheets will never be used by anyone. Statistically, almost all cargo traffic on Far East Asia – Europe trade lane is generated by 20% of ports. Pareto Rule works for all trades in ocean shipping.

There is a lot of waste in the process. Shipping lines realize this waste and work hard to improve the quoting process by trial and error, implementing various custom-made software solutions. But improving the ‘spreadsheeting’ is like putting lipstick on the pig – doesn’t make it any more pretty.

 

The Solution

 

Is there any solution to bulky freight ratesheets? There is an obvious and logical one: for the real change to happen in container shipping, ocean carriers have to simplify and unify their pricing structure across all offices/trades.

Once the pricing is simplified, the quoting can be dramatically improved, as we do it in Quotiss. In my next post, I will dig deeper into the most common errors which we see in the freight ratesheets.

Logistics Software

The Dollar Value of Logistics Software

What is the exact dollar value of the logistics software? Every freight forwarder knows that the logistics business is mostly driven by price. In such a competitive market, any opportunity to improve profit margins should not be missed.

Technology can significantly improve efficiencies internally, resulting in greater profitability. These improvements mostly come from the reduction of manual processes –  time-consuming and error-prone. For example, automating the process of searching and aggregating freight rates can save at least 30% of the sales reps’ time.

But what is the exact dollar value of technology for a freight forwarder? And more importantly, how to calculate the extra profit margins it can help generate? You will find a very simple online calculator at the end of this article.

But first, let’s look at the areas where digitization can help the most.

 

Logistics Software Brings Transparency

 

Traditionally, the sales teams in freight forwarding companies would have to rely on multiple Excel tables with rates, surcharges, and special conditions, preparing freight quotes manually. This is far from optimal, as the margin of error is too high.

Now, when the freight rates change so often, the value of having all commercial data on one platform in a structured way is essential to maintain the sanity and transparency.

 

Logistics Software Makes It Easier

 

Get rid of the large Excel freight ratesheets, put your commercial data on one platform in a simple and transparent way. This will simplify your sales and procurement workflow.

Simplification and automation provide infinite possibilities and allows you to upload freight tariffs and make freight quotes in a few clicks.

 

Logistics Software Brings Security

 

Security and confidentiality are very important when attempting to forge business relationships. With advances in technology come advances in data privacy.

In Quotiss, we made it our top priority to provide the highest level of data security to our clients. We use AWS cloud servers – the technology which is trusted by the largest businesses across the globe: Siemens, Vodafone, Philips, General Electric, and others. With daily database backups, digital safety is 100% guaranteed.

 

Logistics Software Brings Savings

 

A computer can carry out tasks in seconds and with 100% accuracy. One of the greatest benefits of implementing technology into the commercial business process is time-saving and cost reduction.

In Quotiss, your latest freight rates and your most precise client database are integrated into one platform. Contract management simplification allows you to automate and track the freight quotes.

Not only can this reduce the risk of error and raise the quality standard, but also save you great amounts of active sales time. Such time saving opens new doors for using sales talents in ways that will generate more profit at the end of the day.

How much more? Use our simple online ROI calculator and get your estimate in USD.

Quotiss freight forwarding software

Quotiss Helps Freight Forwarders Go Digital

Freight forwarding is one of the largest and most important industries in the world, but also very traditional and least digitized. Quotiss helps traditional freight forwarding companies become digital. We believe, that any freight forwarder can become digital with the right set of digital tools.

Container shipping is one of the least digitized segments of all transport services. Managing freight tariffs is a well known technical challenge, which keeps some freight forwarders stuck in the era of MS Excel.

 

Digital Freight Forwarders

 

There are many startups who try to revolutionize the ‘ancient’ industry. Business models like ‘freight marketplace’ and ‘digital freight forwarder’ are funded with millions of dollars. The frequently asked question is whether the freight forwarders will be replaced with these online services in the near future or not.

Freight forwarding looks like a perfect industry for disruption! A cohort of digital freight forwarders and freight marketplaces emerged on the market. Their value proposition can be summarized as Booking.com for shipping. And yet, today in 2018, it is still hardly possible to find and compare freight rates online. Although some digital freight platforms enable online bookings, there is still a lot of manual work behind the digital interface.

It’s never been easy to deal with freight, due to the freight rate complexity and volatility. Looking at the whole end to end process, it seems logical that transportation price consists of multiple components because the cargo literally travels half of the globe one way. Adding all transportation costs into the picture (door delivery, customs, port expenses), makes ALL-IN freight rate calculation a very complicated process.

For decades, freight forwarders take care of complex logistics and supply chain management. They have connections to the suppliers, agents, customs, and they take care of the entire shipment process, including that cargo insurance. The human factor plays a big role in this mostly relationship-driven business.

 

How to Digitize Freight Rates?

 

Freight forwarders get access to more and more digital tools each year. There is a big interest in digitizing the customer interface: offer online freight quotes, online bookings, online tracking, etc. All these customer-facing digital initiatives are very necessary, but hardly possible without digitizing the back office of the freight forwarder.

It’s not possible to offer online freight quotes if your selling rates are maintained in Excel. You run a big risk of low data accuracy, which can cause financial loss and/or reputational risks.

It is necessary to start from the basics – automate and digitize your freight rate management internally, and after that integrate your automated freight quotes online. Nevertheless, the technology which helps streamline complex logistics processes is already there: electronic communication, big data analysis, transport management systems, etc.

Early adopters are already enjoying the benefits: becoming faster, more flexible, and cost-efficient. There is a visible pressure from the digitized forwarders towards their traditional competitors. It’s becoming obvious, that a “regular” forwarder will soon need to find ways to be on par with the digital world.

Sales Automation Software for Logistics

 

Marcin Zarzecki, CEO of Quotiss says:
“Complex contracts, massive ratesheets, thousands of emails, Excels and PDFs bring frustration, consume resources, and destroy efficiency. At Quotiss, we found a solution that brings structure and simplicity.”

Quotiss has united a team of industry professionals and became a successful startup supported by Techstars Ventures and Google for Entrepreneurs.

Quotiss software could be the right solution to digitize freight ratesheets using a simplified upload mechanism. Quotiss is a practical tool, which automates all kinds of freight ratesheets in a smart and simple way. All freight rates from all suppliers in one place, available instantly to everyone in the organization.

Once the carriers’ contracts are simplified and uploaded into the system, the quoting process becomes fully automated. Having all commercial data on one platform, freight forwarders can enjoy full transparency: archive of freight rates and quotes, profitability, the efficiency of sales teams in real-time. No more searching through multiple folders, excel files and emails.

“Modern technology used to be available only for big players with massive resources. But this is changing. Medium and small-sized forwarders start adopting instruments like Quotiss and, thus, learn to compete with efficiency and not just the rate.” – says Eugene Reznikov, Quotiss representative in Hong Kong.

With Quotiss, you can increase your sales productivity without increasing headcount. When your business is driven by efficiency, it directly impacts the company’s bottom line.

 

Would You Like a Quick Start with Quotiss?

 

Click here to register your company. We’ll activate your company’s profile and help with the initial settings and user onboarding. You can start uploading your freight ratesheets and quoting freight from Quotiss on the same day we sign the deal.

Quotiss freight software

Quotiss Freight Software Explained

In the last couple of months, we see a growing interest in our product and based on the questions we receive, we’ve prepared this article about Quotiss freight software. As you read through, you will find out what Quotiss is and what it is not, and how exactly Quotiss helps freight forwarders to be competitive and boost sales results.

Due to highly complicated nature of shipping, there is no standard software that can handle the typical business requirements of a freight forwarder.

The logistics industry is based on MS Excel or custom-made software. Most of the medium to big size forwarders work with the software designed specifically for their organization’s needs. There are too many flaws in this approach, starting from the cost to create and maintain it, to a very slow response to change requests.

 

What is Quotiss?

 

Quotiss is a freight rate management and sales automation software designed for the freight forwarding companies of any size and type. At the core of Quotiss, there is a powerful freight simplification engine, inspired by Pareto Rule and KISS Principle. Thanks to that, Quotiss removes 99% of complexity from the commercial process and structures the freight rate management in a smart and simple way.

Quotiss provides a basic framework, which simplifies the commercial process of any freight forwarder. Quotiss brings structure to the commercial teams. It can be configured to match the most complex business requirements.

Quotiss covers the following business processes:

  • Freight rate management
  • Automated freight quotes
  • CRM
  • Sales performance analytics

Once the freight pricing is streamlined, the freight quotes are automated. A salesperson can quote freight rates with 100% accuracy in a couple of clicks! With Quotiss, they can send a freight quote to one client or to a hundred clients at once. Your customers will receive a freight quote perfectly tailored to their needs – origin, destination, local charges, special notes and terms, margin levels are saved for each customer.

Quotiss also brings real-time sales performance analytics, enabling data-driven decision making to maximize the profit margins.

 

What Quotiss Has to Offer:

 

  • Unique algorithm to manage freight rate tariffs and spot rates – no more Excel files;
  • Freight quotes are automated – so sales can spend time on selling;
  • Client database – archive of quotes;
  • Follow up on the deals;
  • Unified quote formatting – solid brand image;
  • One platform for all commercial activities – increased business intelligence;
  • Easy sales onboarding – no more lengthy handovers;
  • Intuitive UX and modern UI– sales people love it!

 

Freight Software for Logistics

 

Freight forwarders get access to more and more digital tools each year. There is a big interest in digitizing the customer interface: offer online freight quotes, online bookings, online tracking, etc. All these customer-facing digital initiatives are very necessary, but hardly possible without digitizing the back office of the freight forwarder.

It’s not possible to offer online freight quotes if your selling rates are maintained in Excel. You run a big risk of low data accuracy, which can cause financial loss and/or reputational risks.

It is necessary to start from the basics – automate and digitize your freight rate management internally, and after that integrate your automated freight quotes online.

Quotiss software could be the right solution to digitize freight ratesheets using a simplified upload mechanism. Quotiss is a practical tool, which automates all kinds of freight ratesheets in a smart and simple way. All freight rates from all suppliers in one place, available instantly to everyone in the organization.

With Quotiss, you can increase your sales productivity without increasing headcount. When your business is driven by efficiency, it directly impacts the company’s bottom line.

 

Would You Like a Quick Start with Quotiss?

 

Click here to register your company. We’ll activate your company’s profile and help with the initial settings and user onboarding. You can start uploading your freight ratesheets and quoting freight from Quotiss on the same day we sign the deal.

freight rates digitization quotiss

How to Digitize Freight Rates?

The digitalization of freight and online freight rates are among the most popular topics in the industry media. Many startups are set for industry disruption, and many investors support the trend with millions of dollars in venture capital.

Here are three facts that are commonly known:

  • The shipping industry is very important, yet traditional, manual and complex;
  • Hotels, tickets, taxis are online, but freight is not (despite numerous attempts);
  • The technology for online booking or price comparison has been available for many years.

Freight forwarding looks like a perfect industry for disruption! A cohort of digital freight forwarders and freight marketplaces emerged on the market. Their value proposition can be summarized as Booking.com for shipping. And yet, today in 2017, it is still hardly possible to find and compare freight rates online. Although some digital freight platforms enable online bookings, there is still a lot of manual work behind the digital interface.

 

The Complexity of Freight Rates

 

It’s never been easy to deal with freight, due to the freight rate complexity and volatility. Looking at the whole end to end process, it seems logical that transportation price consists of multiple components because the cargo literally travels half of the globe one way. Adding all transportation costs into the picture (door delivery, customs, port expenses), makes ALL-IN freight rate calculation a very complicated process.

Let’s look at a typical ocean shipment example – a container with shoes is shipped from a factory near Beijing, China to a warehouse in Warsaw, Poland.

A freight forwarder has to organize the following:

  1. Container depot in Beijing, China – releases empty container to the exporter;
  2. A trucking company in China – picks up the empty container and delivers to the factory
  3. Shoe manufacturer in Beijing, China – loads goods in a container;
  4. A trucking company in China – delivers the container to the port;
  5. Customs office in Xingang, China – inspects and seals the container;
  6. Port of Xingang, China – loads container on the ship;
  7. Ocean shipping line – delivers container from China to Poland;
  8. Port of Gdańsk, Poland – discharges container from the ship;
  9. Customs office in Gdańsk, Poland – inspects and clears the container;
  10. Railway operator in Poland – delivers container from the port to Inland Depot;
  11. Inland Depot in Poland – releases container to the importer;
  12. A trucking company in Poland – delivers the container to the importer;
  13. Importer in Warsaw, Poland – receives and unloads container;
  14. A trucking company in Poland – delivers the empty container to the Inland Depot.

After adding here also banks and insurance of the goods, we end up with a minimum of 16 interactions between 14 different business parties, including the state-regulated ones. All these parties are mostly independent entities, not connected to each other. For the industry digitalization to happen, all these parties must be digitally linked into one smooth supply chain, globally.

 

Booking.com for Shipping

 

Coming back to the ‘Booking.com for shipping’ analogy: hotel booking platforms connect the property owners with travelers. Travelers book online and don’t negotiate. This analogy from the B2C model can’t work for the B2B business world.

The ‘travel agency‘ analogy would be more suitable here but still offers its limitations. Travel agencies negotiate deals with suppliers, but the client of the travel agency is again a traveler (B2C). For freight forwarders, both their suppliers and their customers are B2B companies. And their customers’ customers are B2B companies. Hotel or ticket booking doesn’t remotely compare to the freight transportation in terms of complexity.

For decades, traditional freight forwarders took care of complex logistics and supply chain management. They have connections to the suppliers, agents, customs, and they take care of the entire shipment process, including that cargo insurance. The human factor plays a big role in this mostly relationship-driven business.

Traditional players are faced with a tough trend – strong demand from the market for simplification and digitization. But even the most advanced digital freight forwarders have to employ a large team in their back office, who has to deal with the complexity of the actual logistics.

 

Digital Solution for the Industry

 

At Quotiss, we recognize that the demand for digitalization is, in fact, demand for simplification and efficiency. The technology itself can’t fix the broken process. Quotiss software has a smart algorithm, which simplifies freight rate management and automates the quoting of freight rates. Quotiss software helps traditional freight forwarders to become digital.

Click here to register your company. We’ll activate your company’s profile and help with the initial settings and user onboarding. You can start uploading your freight ratesheets and quoting freight from Quotiss on the same day we sign the deal.

freight ratesheets quotiss

Freight Ratesheets. Simplified.

It’s not a secret, that when it comes to shipping and logistics, there is a lot of potential for optimization. Freight forwarders have to deal with the enormous complexity of the freight ratesheets they receive from their suppliers. Most of the freight quote requests are still handled via email in MS Excel, Word, or even a Whatsapp text. There are no unified standards in the industry.

There are approximately 50 000 freight forwarders in the world. They buy transportation services from various suppliers and sell it to shippers, adding more value to the supply chain by taking care of the full delivery. It’s also not a secret, that it’s hard to find freight rates online, and the attempts to digitize freight rates have failed.

 

Freight Ratesheets in Container Shipping

 

Let’s take container shipping as an example. The vicious circle of every freight forwarder: request freight quote from a shipping line, deal with the horrifying complexity of rate sheets of multiple shipping lines, manually retype rates and surcharges into own format, repeat for every quote.

According to the Shanghai Container Freight Index, spot rates change at least once a week, adding up to 50 rate revisions per year. Let’s assume that a typical freight forwarder

  • works with 5 shipping lines and on 4 trades;
  • receives 4 rate sheets weekly from each line for each trade.

Now we do the math: 50 000 freight forwarders x 50 revisions x 5 shipping lines x 4 ratesheets = 50M. That’s 50 million Excel or PDF files with complex rate structures that are produced and emailed back and forth every year. This looks like the definition of inefficiency, as most of it is done manually.

These rate sheets come in various formats, currencies, frequencies, colors, and shades. Even within one shipping company, formats vary from branch to branch. These Excel-based structures are extremely complicated to understand even for logistics experts, which makes further freight rate analysis time-consuming and error-prone.


(An example of a typical rate sheet from one of the shipping lines)

Freight forwarders spend their days analyzing the freight ratesheets and quoting freight rates for their clients. Even the largest global freight forwarding companies struggle to set up an electronic exchange of rates or at least negotiate a consistent format of ratesheets with the shipping lines.

According to Quotiss statistics, it takes freight forwarders up to 24 hours to prepare a freight quote, 10% of sent quotes contain manual errors, costing the industry 10 billion USD in lost revenue.

 

Rate Management Software for Logistics

 

There are talks about disruption, innovation, and digitization in the supply chain industry. Freight forwarders get access to more and more digital tools each year. There is a big interest in digitizing the customer interface: offer online freight quotes, online bookings, online tracking, etc. All these customer-facing digital initiatives are very necessary, but hardly possible without digitizing the back office of the freight forwarder.

It would be great if digital freight tools could help to quote freight rates instantly or to shop for the best freight quote online. The truth is, it will only be possible when the freight pricing structure is simplified and unified across the industry.

It is necessary to start from the basics – automate and digitize your freight rate management internally, and after that integrate your automated freight quotes online.

Quotiss software could be the right solution to digitize freight ratesheets using a simplified upload mechanism. Quotiss is a practical tool, which automates all kinds of freight ratesheets in a smart and simple way. All freight rates from all suppliers in one place, available instantly to everyone in the organization.

With Quotiss, you can increase your sales productivity without increasing headcount. When your business is driven by efficiency, it directly impacts the company’s bottom line.

 

Would You Like a Quick Start with Quotiss?

 

Click here to register your company. We’ll activate your company’s profile and help with the initial settings and user onboarding. You can start uploading your freight ratesheets and quoting freight from Quotiss on the same day we sign the deal.