The adoption of online forwarding services and digital forwarders is rapidly taking hold across global businesses. This is one of the key findings of the Online Freight Forwarding Survey Transport Intelligence undertook between January and March 2019 for the purpose of its Global Freight Forwarding 2019 report. The objective of the study was to get a better understanding of the impact digital forwarding has on the industry and assess the performance and value online freight booking platforms, marketplaces and digital forwarders provide to businesses.

The survey showed that online platforms, marketplaces and digital forwarders have achieved notable market penetration, with 49.0% of the surveyed shippers and LSPs reporting their use.

66% of those using online freight booking platforms/marketplaces/digital forwarders reported being either ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with the service they receive. This is a big change from the freight forwarding survey which Transport Intelligence undertook just 18 months ago. At that time, the survey found that the mixed performance of online booking platforms and marketplaces had restricted the uptake amongst respondents. Our most recent survey, however, suggests that the performance of online freight booking platforms, marketplaces and digital forwarders has improved, and shows the speed of the development of the market.

While this primary research exercise confirmed that digital forwarding solutions are gaining traction, still under question is the extent to which online marketplaces, booking platforms and digital forwarders will fundamentally change the market’s landscape. Since 2013, a number of spot market platforms, online freight booking marketplaces and online forwarders emerged, leading to many questions about the viability of the traditional forwarding model in a digital age. The entry of digital start-ups in the market has had a significant impact on the strategies of large forwarders, many of which have already developed front-end online booking platforms. Will digital platforms and digital forwarders offer an existential threat to forwarders? Not necessarily, suggest survey results.

According to the data, currently, shippers are making use of the more basic services provided by online forwarding platforms, such as booking and requesting quotes, but aren’t making great use of the more complex, value-added services, such as exception management/transportation errors, tender/bid management, claims management and insurance. It might be argued that shippers are mainly using the very basic forwarding services and processes on these platforms as these are the areas they were initially designed to deal with and the areas in which they promise to add value by removing the standard, repetitive tasks from the human. However, this isn’t to say that the technology won’t advance in the future and provide booking platforms and marketplaces with the tools that will enable them to provide shippers with full supply chain visibility and value-added services, areas in which traditional forwarders are good at and have a competitive edge.

On the basis of this, Ti’s Global Freight Forwarding 2019 report concludes that digitalisation will continue to be a catalyst to change. If traditional forwarders do not prove agile enough to adopt the new technology, they will find that they rapidly lose customers looking for efficient quotation and booking processes, the primary drivers behind the uptake of online and digital forwarding services according to the survey.

For more information regarding the Global Freight Forwarding 2019 report, click here or contact Sarah Smith at [email protected]

Source: Transport Intelligence, June 18, 2019

Author: Violeta Keckarovska