Freight is often the bane of the Procurement professional, especially when such professional needs a quote in a hurry. It’s not uncommon even in this day and age for a Procurement professional to call up a freight carrier for a spot quote and have to wait two or three days. It’s absurd. Quotes, or at least quotes on standard table rates, should take two or three seconds. The only time you should wait a couple of days for a quote is during a master contract negotiation for hundreds of lanes, as you will want to give the carrier some time to determine their absolute best rate in this situation.
This is the primary reason BuyTruckload.com was founded. The founders, veterans of the logistics management software industry, got fed up with both having to wait for bids on the spot market and being unable to shop the business to enough carriers to get the best rate. But this isn’t an article about BuyTruckload.com, even though BuyTruckload.com does a wonderful job in North America. Why? Because BuyTruckload.com it doesn’t solve the global shipping problem, doesn’t address other modes of transit, and it doesn’t account for the fact that you might have contracts in place (that the buyer might not even be aware of).
In order to address this problem and speed up the freight quote time, on or off contract, in the global market place, Zvi Schreiber and his team built FreightOS (pronounced Freight O.S., or even freigh-toss, as it is a freight operating system and not a brand of breakfast cereals), which is an technology platform that enables an on-line network of global freight carriers to provide instant spot-rate and on-contract quotes when a (potential) customer needs them.
When a carrier, or freight-forwarder / 3PL, signs up for the FreightOS network and uploads their standard rate tables for ocean, air, and land-based shipping for all of the routes they service, customers can access the carrier’s portal on the FrieghtOS network and get almost instantaneous quotes (which, depending on the number of routing options and shipment goal — be it lowest cost, fastest delivery, etc. — could take a few seconds) for the route(s) of their choice. All the buyer has to specify is the origin, the destination, some basic load characteristics (what is being shipped [boxes, pallets, etc.], dimensions, unit weight, and quantity), the desired pick-up date, the allowable modes (land, ocean, air, or any combination), whether or not the load is hazardous, if insurance is required (and the load value if it is), the applicable HS code(s), and if a customs brokerage is being used and click a get quote button. Within 10 seconds, the buyer will get the quickest delivery quote, the cheapest quote, and, if applicable, some suggestions for nearby delivery locations that are quicker or cheaper (especially in the case of inter-continental shipments where there are multiple options that require a multi-modal delivery network that consists of air or ocean and truck or rail). Each quote returned will include the total cost, the time-in-transit, the modes of transportation required, and whether or not the carrier will work with a customs brokerage or transport hazardous material. Clicking on a quote will break it down into its constituent cost components, which may include, but are not limited to, basic freight cost, (airline) screening fees, (airline) security fees, fuel surcharges, documentation fees, (airline) handling fees, export declarations, advance manifest fees, etc. If the buying organization has a contract with the carrier, even if it only covers some lanes, they can upload the contract and all of their buyers can get on-contract quotes instantaneously and compare them to off-contract quotes. This can help the buyer discover whether a different routing can save them some money.
Also, after the buyer has requested quotes from their (preferred) carriers of choice on the FreightOS network, they can download their entire quote history to an excel spreadsheet to not only do a lowest-cost cross-carrier comparison by lane, but determine where the real (hidden) costs are. For example, it’s possible that (one of) the biggest cost(s) (in air freight in particular) is the fuel surcharge, and if the buyer can identify this and negotiate a better fuel surcharge rate with a carrier of choice, they could potentially lower their shipment costs going forward. Also, in the case of exports and imports, a buyer can see if any of the security or documentation fees imposed by one carrier are (unreasonably) higher than the market average.
Right now, the FreightOS platform has approximately 20 carriers on-board, but considering the huge cost savings this represents to a carrier that spends a considerable number of man-hours every day quoting on business for which it knows it will only see a 20% to 30% success rate at best, it shouldn’t be long before more carriers sign up. With this type of platform, no man-hours are needed to provide market-rate quotes and the carrier will know that when they do get a call based on a quote provided by the platform, the buyer has product she needs to ship, has decided that the carrier may be able to provide the service she needs in an acceptable price range, and has narrowed her pool of carrier choices down to select few. The founders of FreightOS believe that they can increase the success rate of their carriers by 10% with this tool, but SI believes that this tool could increase a carrier’s success rate by as much as 50% as most buyer’s will only call, at most, the 3 lowest quoting carriers and select the first carrier that can meet their delivery requirements at an acceptable price.
If you have global freight and need a better quoting solution than calling up a carrier who will take, on average, a day or three to get back to you, SI recommends checking out FreightOS. It’s definitely a platform to watch.