Overview of the industry 🔭
Supposedly you want to travel from country A to country B. Today you have makemytrip, expedia etc to help you get the flights with estimated price at a click of the button. But, the international cargo industry is still years ago from that disruption if not decades. Today when some company wants to move cargo, they contact freight forwarders - the travel agent for international cargo. These companies get them possible routes and rates after checking with airlines and shipping lines. These quotations enable the shipper to provide shipping cost to the importer. The whole process takes 2-3 days to close.
The business who is going to be shipping the cargo.
The business who wishes to import cargo into his country. He has placed a purchase order on the shipper to get the cargo to his country.
An agent of the shipper. Sometimes the shipper may have sub-agent do the co-ordination of rates, booking and tracking of where the cargo is to this entity.
The entity responsible for transporting the cargo across countries. Shipping Line or Airline.
Freight Forwarder ( aka FF):
The travel agent of the cargo world. This business is responsible for providing service to the shipper - providing estimated rates, booking the slots with carriers, co-ordinating the complete execution with all the entities mentioned above.
A sales team at FF is responsible for managing the customer (shipper/sub-agent) and providing them with best possible options and rates.
The pricing team at FF are the folks who maintain and procure rates to move cargo from point a to b from various mode of transports. They manage relationships with multiple network partners in other countries, shipping lines, airlines, truckers and other value add service providers.
Customer Service Team:
Responsible for the execution of the shipment. They track the movement of cargo, handle any possible exceptions and prevent delays while giving continuous updates to the customer.
Sales Team have to track 100 such inquiries coming in from various channels - emails, whatsapp, skype and even phone calls. They use physical diaries, notepad and excels to manage the entire process of fulfilling the enquiry
Request rates from the pricing team to provide them with the best rates for
moving cargo from port a to b
moving cargo from factory to port
Other value added services
Yes you guessed it right collaboration is happening on whatsapp for this as well
Pricing team is responsible to give sales team rates to sell almost instantaneously whenever they ask for rate to move cargo from point a to b with a combo of services being offered. Again these guys use excels, hand made pricing tables to manage their work. Once pricing team has looked up the rates from their excel archives or rate engines of airline/shipping line they share it with the sales team. Pricing team also have to make sure that company earns a fail safe margin (minimum selling rate guidelines) in case the sales guy ends up selling at a razor blade thin margins to win initial orders from the shippers
Once rates are available, sales team will then make quotation to offer various options to move cargo to the shippers customers. Some guys make colourful quotes and some try to keep it functional and share it on whatsapp to be quicker
Once rates are shared with customers, the sales team will negotiate with customer to close the shipment and get the order confirmed.
If they win the order they will then handover the order to customer service team who will take it to fulfilment
If they lose the order they will try to keep in record why they lost - was it because of price? providers offered, transit time to move cargo
In midst of all this a owners of these FF companies never has a solid answer to
What No of queries being processed in a particular day, week and month ?
What is our average turn around time to quote to customer ?
What is our overall win ratio and then further analyse the same by customers and sales person ?
Whats the top reason to lose business ?
And many such questions remain only as guesstimates. Owners shelve a lot of big money in variable pays and incentive to the sales team but are never ever able to analyse their performance in realtime. Sometimes after doing pivot black magic on excels they may get basic analysis like below
Owners don’t have controls
They have to personally interfere sometimes to make sure minimum selling guidelines are being followed
As every FF is a defacto NBFC financing trade by giving credit periods, owners are never sure that their sales team is following credit guidelines and are not accepting further business from already overdue late payers
Recommend a flow to us to digitise this above process and make the collaboration around the same seamless. Make sure the flow accounts for a sales person getting initial inquiry from within inbox and then managing that inquiry through the entire funnel.
The flow should guide the sales person to follow the rules being set by owners
The collaboration on inquiry flow management as seamless as whatsapp in-between all actors involved
It should be able to give one click business insights to the business owners
Shippers shall get the rates to ship their cargo faster and they can re-use the same to share it with their cargo buyers
Anything else that Shipmnts can do to put the odds of wining an inquiry in favour of the sales team?
Sales guys are always on the move so your solution shall work on the move
Pricing guys and business owners are like modern day deal brokers working on a bloomberg terminals, your solution shall optimise for showing more insights in less real-estate