TOO many forwarders miss sales because of their tardy, vague and inept responses to requests for online quotations, according to automation specialist Freightos.
Hong Kong-based Freightos said shippers and procurement officers were "increasingly likely to buy both goods and services online", reported Lloyd's Loading List.
Using the "mystery shopper" technique, Freightos sought quotes for an LCL shipment from China to Chicago were submitted to the websites of the top 20 forwarders.
Only 45 per cent of forwarders surveyed provided a quote. The average quote time was 90 hours. The quickest response took 30 hours, while the slowest quote took 840 hours.
And only five companies followed up after providing the quote in order to attempt to secure the business.
Of the 16 forwarders canvassed, 75 per cent did not automatically confirm receiving the request. Three of the 16 never responded.
Five who provided quotes required multiple conversations to clarify details. One demanded a personal meeting before providing one, even after several telephone conversations.
The fastest personal confirmation from forwarder was seven hours. One refused to quote, even after multiple conversations, insisting on a personal meeting.
Not one provided instant online pricing for international freight sales; 20 per cent of the top 20 have neither an online quote form or a "contact us" on their websites.
Said Freightos CEO Zvi Schreiber: "Consumers start nearly every purchase with an online search. This behaviour is increasingly taking place at the workplace as well, with more and more shippers looking for online freight services."
Mr Schreiber said he found that while the industry is aware of the potential for online sales, most top forwarders have yet to take advantage of it.
"Instead, most provide a sub par online customer experience with slow, manual freight pricing and quoting,?he said.
Mr Schreiber said Freightos was already working with leading forwarders and import-export companies to help bridge this gap.
Source : HKSG.