Previously I wrote that apart from dealing with digital shipping lines, digital freight forwarders will also need to contend with traditional freight forwarders, not just from a service perspective but from a digital perspective as well.
DB Schenker recently joined the ranks of traditional freight forwarders now offering digital solutions with the launch of their connect 4.0 platform.
In a recent interview with Jeff Barrie, CEO of DB Schenker US, we had an opportunity to discuss the launch of the company’s connect 4.0 platform and why the company believes it will define success in freight forwarding and global shipping.
Freight forwarding remains an exhaustive process, and the rise of digital freight forwarding solutions, such as connect 4.0, streamline the traditional manual processes and offer value to partnering businesses.
DB Schenker is well-known for its freight forwarding capabilities and the company took a lesson from e-commerce.
As noted by Barrie, “They [customers] are experiencing all these very positive and satisfying experiences [arising from e-commerce].”
That’s why the company built a new platform, connect 4.0, to bring this level of personalized and satisfying service closer to consumers through faster freight forwarding.
The modern world has grown accustomed to the as-a-service model, and everyday services, ranging from Uber to Amazon, seek to deliver something as-a-service.
The expectations created within the private market have transferred over to the business-to-business (B2B) environment, and in keeping with tradition, DB Schenker developed the tools and resources necessary to create transparency and increased visibility and positive experiences for its customers.
The convergence of business and personal expectations for positive experiences
DB Schenker often describes the changes within customer expectations in the era of digital transformation as “a convergence of expectations.”
This convergence of expectations means customers put their personal expectations on their business partners, and while resources have been dedicated to developing the best and biggest platforms for customers, B2B customers have often fallen out of the loop.
That narrative has changed, and today’s B2B customers expect nothing short of a stellar experience.
Prior shipping quote preparation took days to complete
In the traditional freight forwarding world, a simple shipping quote preparation could take days to complete.
It relied on a highly manual process, including the use of personal contacts and email. Variations in shipment type, size, and trade lanes would affect the time spent in scheduling and quoting a shipment.
This was a costly process, contributing to higher labor costs and delays for cargo owners. In today’s world, any delay in shipment quoting can result in lost opportunities and poor customer experiences.
Traditional freight forwarders needed a way to streamline the freight quoting process, and that is what DB Schenker’s connect 4.0 technology achieves.
Ongoing work by global pricing teams computes the latest and most accurate rates for instant quoting
In today’s world, time is of the essence, and a delay in inbound freight management will result in delays to a business’s consumers.
DB Schenker knew the company needed a way to provide real-time freight quoting within connect 4.0, and that requires a global pricing team that continuously evaluates local country organizations and market rates. “Our global pricing teams, who together with our many local country organizations, compile the latest and most competitive market rates on an ongoing basis. These rates reflect changing market conditions, including space availability, congestion and routing.”
This information is then automatically uploaded into the database and gives the customer access to real-time shipping rates through connect 4.0.
With volatility in the market continuing, especially as fears over a trade war increase, rates can change in an instant, and DB Schenker took the steps necessary to evaluate and know the rates on an ongoing basis.
This work must continue, despite the launch of the new technology. As a result, customers will benefit from instant quoting with the most accurate rates.
Customers needed 24/7 real-time shipment visibility
The value of connect 4.0 also exists within its level of end-to-end visibility created through integration with the central transport management system (TMS). Such integration connects ocean, land, and customs providers to all users and ports, providing near real-time tracking for vessels and predictive ETA models.
According to Barrie, “connect 4.0 Ocean will be enhanced in the near future with real-time vessel tracking and predictive ETA information.” While these features are not yet available today, any scan or change in shipment status is immediately visible
Customers want faster delivery, even same-day in some cases
Today’s customers want faster delivery as part of the “convergence of expectations,” and B2B businesses need a quicker way to order and receive inbound freight.
With Amazon’s recent rollout of free same-day delivery, this expectation will grow significantly through the remainder of the year. Offering same-day service means having the tools and resources in place to immediately reorder and get inbound freight to ensure all products are adequately stocked and available.
In-House development ensured a quality, robust platform
Lastly, the reason for offering the new platform derives from the companies established a reputation for providing successful, affordable freight forwarding services.
DB Schenker built this platform “in-house.” Mathematicians, experienced IT developers, data specialists, analysts, and logistics experts work together to develop a robust and quality platform. The result is the same, a solution that meets the needs of all B2B partners.
connect 4.0 builds on the levels of personal connection, professionalism, and experience
A critical reason for offering this newer, digital solution goes back to the most basic tenets of customer service, including the ability to establish a personal connection, maintain professionalism and leverage the company’s experience to offer an affordable solution. connect 4.0 builds on these factors, contributing to higher brand value and helping shippers gain end-to-end visibility and control over logistics costs.
Summary: connect 4.0 is coming to all global DB Schenker markets
The connect 4.0 platform already has an established presence in Europe and certain markets in Asia. The platform recently rolled out in the US and Canada, and it will launch in Mexico and other Central and South American market in the coming months.
DB Schenker plans to roll out the platform fully to all its global customers, and with the commitment to meeting the demands of the “convergence of technology and experience,” the platform is on track to rise to “best in category” status.
As more DB Schenker businesses realize the benefits of this integrated, well-functioning system, its value will grow and become synonymous with mastery of logistics.