“I need to get a quote to move three containers from the Port of Rotterdam to Port Miami. I’d like to have it by this evening if possible, or I may have to look elsewhere,” says the freight manager. The freight forwarder responds, “Sure, I can’t guarantee it, but let me get to work.” After several hours, 12 in fact, the forwarder finally responds, “I’m sorry. The rate isn’t available.” “It’s okay. I found someone else, and it’s already scheduled.”
That interaction is not an extreme example. Shippers are busy people, and they don’t have time to wait all day and night for air and ocean freight quotes.
Freight quoting has a bad reputation. It’s a lengthy, exhaustive process. Unfortunately, freight quoting is essential to success in the global supply chain. In many cases, forwarders that provide the fastest rate quotes to shippers (customers) will win the quote. Faster freight quotes with APIs are the endgame, and they can empower forwarders and shippers to make quicker decisions, move more product, and deliver shipments faster and more affordable than any other. Yet, manual quoting remains the standard, says Global Trade Magazine. “We have noticed that especially small and medium-sized companies are either stuck in their traditional mindset or don’t know how to start with digital collaboration. Why is that so and how do companies overcome this conundrum?” Smaller entities are afraid to share data due to risk, but with the age of APIs taking hold, the level of risk is much lower. Shippers and forwarders must understand how getting faster freight quotes through APIs could secure more customers and boost both companies’ images.
Traditional freight quotes required an initial point of contact between the shipper and the carrier. The shipper provides the details.The forwarder reviews global capacity demand, and pricing, as well as drayage costs and any other unique needs. When finished, the forwarder may incur up to$30 of internal resources (people and time) for a manual quote. The shipper supplies the details. The carrier reworks the quote and sends it to the shipper. By the time the process ends, a whole day may pass, and the quote’s accuracy declines. In traditional freight quotes, timeliness is almost impossible. Even the fastest computer experts on the planet would still rely on the “person on the other end of the line, email or interaction.”During peak activity periods, someone may miss the phone call or email. The entire process is based on the assumption that the other person responds immediately. While that worked when supply chains ran from the town factory to the retailer down the street, it falls severely short in today’s age.
Freight quotes with APIs automate the quoting process, and in the age of technology, using them can seem like a no-brainer. But, only two of the top 12 ocean forwarders offer instant freight quoting, reports Eric Johnson of the Journal of Commerce. Even worse, across the millions of forwarders in existence, fewer than 1% offer instant quoting. Instead of waiting hours and hoping someone answers, automatedAPIs pull information and generate quotes in real-time. Real-time data also allows shippers to know they are getting the most accurate, company-specific rates. From within the same system, shippers can tender and schedule the shipment, further ensuring their final freight spend equals the projected cost.While it may not seem like a huge benefit, better planning of freight amounts to lower freight spend, better customer service, and serious competitive advantages over those using traditional, manual quotes.
Online marketplaces, including the generation of those that have freight quotes powered by APIs, offer significant advantages over traditional freight quoting processes. Instead of relying on outdated, manual, and expensive handling, shippers of all sizes realize substantial benefits.“Online pricing platforms are attractive when there are capacity constraints on trade lanes which would make it difficult for small shippers to secure attractive rates and space guarantees,” Alpha liner says, reports the Journal of Commerce. Of course, that’s not the only benefit realized through faster air and ocean freight quotes. Additional benefits include:
● Immediate, real-time access to freight rates. Access to real-time freight rates allow shippers to make informed decisions and select the best forwarder, price, routing and service levels.     Also, no one has time to email five different companies, let alone 1,000. Instead of limiting options, instant quoting enables better view of the market rates
● Reduced risk for delays, rejections, deriving from automated carrier acceptance. When forwarders leverage APIs to provide more automation to software vendors and consumers, they also take additional steps to automate approval for freight shipping requests. As a result, shippers that leverage API-based systems are more likely to see a reduction in the number of delays and rejections.
● Access to more carrier-specific rates provided by a forwarder. Increasing the number of carriers quoted by forwarders on a shipper’s behalf for each shipment provides an immense benefit for shippers. Since shippers can see all rates for all applicable forwarders, they can lower freight spend. So, forwarders realize more freight bookings.
● Lower cost for requesting a quote. Using an API also has an inherently lower cost than traditional quoting processes. Since forwarders spend less time preparing quotes, they can move more freight, focusing on their actual job duties. For shippers, faster-quoting amounts to less back and forth and better lead times. Plus, automated, instant quoting is necessary for purchase and ship transactions.
● Open-standard architecture via an API integrates with existing systems. The use of an open standard architecture within an API also allows shippers to incorporate innovative solutions with their existing, legacy technologies. APIs make implementation much easier.
● Reduced lead time across all modes. Reductions in lead time are not isolated to air in ocean shipping either. While lead time declines across all modes, the use of API quoting systems allows for further use of both multimodal and intermodal shipping.
APIs are the next generation of supply chain management systems and technology. APIs can connect anything and empower shippers with broad scalability. At the same time, freight quote cost reductions further their attractiveness and use. Enterprises that want to win the customer with more on-demand, instant quoting need SimpliShip’s APIs:
● LiNK for Forwarders – A Rate Management API that allows you to instantly quote on a Forwarder’s own website.
● LiNK for B2B – An API that fully integrates into anyTMS, ERP, Marketplace or any software solution to enable instant purchasing off international air and ocean freight.
This is a guest blog from CEO of SimpliShip, Cory Margand. Although Cerasis does not provide any services or technology around ocean shipping or airfreight, we are keenly interested in the intersection of freight and technology, especially the rise of APIs.
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