First things first: if you are shipping globally, you need a(n) RFQ / Spot Bid solution built for freight. You may believe that just because you have a generic RFQ / e-Auction solution that can be used to collect freight quotes that you don’t need a custom freight tendering solution, but nothing could be further from the truth. When it comes to freight, at a minimum you have to consider:
- five modes: road, rail, ocean, air, and small parcel,
- multiple cargo types: dry, cold, frozen, and liquid,
- palletized vs. non-palletized,
- LTL vs FTL,
- regular vs flammable vs hazardous, and
- multiple cost tiers
and that’s quite a few data elements that most RFX tools are not setup to collect out of the box. Furthermore, even if the solution is highly configurable and can allow the creation of bid collection matrices that will collect all of the associated bid and lane data, chances are the platform isn’t setup with the rules to enforce the right bidding, the analytics for the right comparison, or enough sophistication in auto award scenario creation even for a baseline low-cost cherrypick scenario.
Furthermore, when you are shipping globally, you need to
- understand approximate current lane costs / benchmarks,
- know who is shipping in a region AND their typical capacity, and
- be able to quickly access current rate agreements or spot-market bid rates
and your typical out-of-the-box RFX tool for indirect or direct sourcing is not going to do that.
However, a tool built by freight sourcing / logistics professionals for freight sourcing is going to do that and more. That’s what TenderEasy is. Founded almost two decades ago in 2004 to help organizations optimize their freight sourcing, they launched the first version of their fully SaaS-enabled freight tendering solution eleven years ago. Their freight tendering solution was among the first solutions that were custom built to help global companies manage their global fright RFQs across air, land, and sea. Since then, they have added spot quote capability, rate (contract) management, an integration API for custom data push to any TMS, ERP, or S2P system you want to transfer the awards to, out-of-the-box integrations with multiple TMS systems (e.g., Alpega, SAP4Hana), out-of-the-box APIs with public freight rate benchmark and analytics platforms (including Xeneta, Freightos, Upply, and Alpega FX), out-of-the-box integrations with container management platforms (including BuyCo), and out-of-the-box integrations with freight/lane-based emission calculators (including EcoTransIT World).
There are three main parts to the TenderEasy platform:
- Buyer Interface
- Supplier Interface
There are six main parts to the administration interface:
- User Management: where you can manage your internal users with easy profile settings controlling visibility, accessibility and inter-activity with bidders
- Supplier Management: where you can import, add and manage suppliers, including the ability to #tag supplier groups, and this management includes the management of (supplier) modes, cargo types, pallet capability, whether or not they do LTL or FTL, any certifications for flammable and hazardous materials, countries they can operate in, etc.
- Currency Rates: where you can define, on project level, the currencies you support and the rates you wish to use for base conversion
- Keyword Lists: where you can define as many arbitrary value lists as you want for bid and data collection during a tender (to make sure responses are with the right naming convention for rule creation and future data integration with your TMS, ERP, and/or S2P system)
- Integrations: where you manage your export connectivity to whatever systems you want to push data to
- Partners: where you select the data partners you wish to connect with for data enrichment of your analysis data (freight benchmarks, emissions, service KPIs, etc.). With some Partners you can “pay-as-you-go” via TenderEasy. Other partners will require a subscription and your partner license key credentials to access the data.
The supplier interface has four main parts and is designed to be as simple as possible for the suppliers:
- Tender List which lists the tenders they are currently invited to and the status of those tenders
- Tender Details where they enter their bids by lane
- Import/Export where they can export the tender to Excel, fill it out in their favourite tool, and then import it
- On-line bidding where Suppliers can fine-tune bids on-the-fly
There are four main parts to the buyer interface:
- RFQ/Tendering which is where the multi-round magic happens (which we will dive into shortly)
- Spot Quote Request where a buyer can empower their organization to execute quick spot requests for a single load in a transparent and compliant way
- Rate Management where the buyer can store and manage their contracted rates in an auditable and sustainable way
- Rate Search where the buyer’s stakeholders can search for contracted services and rates (that are stored in the system) in real-time, including historical rate records
The core is the tendering component where the buyers spend most of their time.
A tender can be created from an existing tender (as a copy) or from scratch. Creating a tender from scratch is quite easy:
- name it
- select a currency group and a default currency
- define the transport mode
- define the end time of the current round (with start [auto-]populated when you publish it)
- define the range for which supplier bids must be valid
- optionally upload any attachments with requirements
- optionally provide a detailed event description
- optionally define any terms and conditions (separate from the file uploads)
- create the bid / rate matrix by either
- copying a matrix from a previous event
- instantiating one from a best-practice template defined on system implementation
- add the suppliers (and you can easily upload their details via Excel)
- select/customize notifications
That’s it. Complex freight events can be instantiated in a matter of minutes. Why?
- pre-defined best practise rate cards can be utilized, or you can copy a previous RFQ
- pre-defined currency groups make currency definition one-click
- the platform can store attachments in the platform, creating libraries for your standard specialized requirements, Ts&Cs, etc.
- the buying organization can define matrices for every mode – region – good type / transport requirement they have on system implementation, including all of the validations and rules that are 100% compatible with Excel, with all of the appropriate lanes
- the system will automatically select the suppliers associated with the mode and region with the necessary characteristics (hazardous certification, etc.) and all the buyer has to do is check the suppliers it wants to invite
- there are ready-made automatic notifications in the system for every event you want to action
A key point to note is that TenderEasy supports full Excel capability within the platform, and easy wizard base definition of column and cell settings and properties. For example, each column can have a type, an associated validation rule, display/coloring properties, a visibility definition (buyer or supplier, read or write), etc. and each cell can have a more specific validation based
Another key point is that it’s stupid simple to import benchmark data into (private) columns in the matrix that you can use to evaluate bids (and, automatically, flag any that are too high or too low, possibly with colour coding in the column, or a separate column if you are using colour coding to show the percentage change in a bid from round to round. You simply select “import benchmark” and select the benchmark provider you want to use (which is typically the one you have a subscription with) and the quotes get sucked in automagically.
Bid analysis is also very easy. It’s simple to define a scenario that auto-selects the appropriate carrier and bid for each lane. There’s an integrated scenario builder where you simply define the grouping columns, the supplier group to consider, the tariffs to use, the (optional) adjustments to apply (where you can favour incumbents or innovative carriers and disfavour new carriers or eco-unfriendly carriers or low reliability carriers using a financial cost percentage adjustment or fixed cost modifier), and whether or not you want to use breakpoint optimization (where it will select the FTL amount when that is cheaper than the LTL amount at the current weight / space utilization).
Supplier feedback can also be customized and color coded in a multi-round tender to tell a supplier approximately how far off they are from being selected (e.g. < 10%, 10% to 20%, > 20%). You can generate feedback on any numerical value in the rate card, including service data, emissions, quality etc.
You can create as many (partial) bid analysis as you want, including baselines, using whatever rules you want, and then visualize them graphically in the dashboard, where you can also define thresholds to alert you if any carrier would get too little or too much business. You can also compare them side by side to help you identify the awards you want for each lane. When you figure out what you want, you can incrementally build (by combining partial awards from existing scenarios) the award scenario you want, push it into your external system for contracting, and lock it down as a set of rates to be included in the rate management part of the platform.
If you do need help (which won’t happen often as the platform is very usable, it is usually quite obvious what to do next, and all of the up-front setup on implementation jump-starts pretty much everything you will ever do), there is extensive help built into the platform, training material and self-testing, and a webinar archive.
There is pretty much everything you need out of the box to get going, with the only obvious exceptions being
- combinatorial carrier optimization (once you have selected the preferred carriers) to balance cost, emissions, and/or delivery time (which they are currently investigating)
- market-based alerts if a supplier you select is not likely to have current capacity (based on the spot market), if prices are going up quickly (and you should make lock in an award sooner rather than later), or if KPIs are dropping for current carriers (which are currently under investigation, with KPIs and improved benchmarks, which are needed at the foundation level, being investigated with Partners on how to best share this information pro-actively)
In other words, if you do global freight, and you don’t have a custom solution for freight RFQs and spot buys, you should not only have one but include TenderEasy on your shortlist. Once you see the capability a platform like TenderEasy can provide and how much more efficient and effective it can make your freight buyers, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. (Like any good e-Sourcing tool, it will quickly pay for itself many times over.)