Are all freight forwarders the same

As a freight forwarder it is pretty hard to stand out and get your voice heard as shippers over the years have changed how they view a freight forwarder.

More and more exporters/importers see freight forwarding as a commodity to be bought and sold at the lowest price rather than developing a relationship with a freight forwarder who understands their business. Working hard to understand the customers needs to provide a full tailored freight forwarding service rather than a budget buy sale.

A big reason for this has been the blurring of the lines between what the different logistics providers handle. Smaller freight forwarders work hard to try and compete with integrators and global logistics companies who no longer value the service a forwarder provides but instead work on cheapest price will win the work. Profit margins are squeezed right through the supply chain but a poor service can often lead to hidden costs further down the line.

This has changed the way freight forwarders now compete and forwarders have been forced to concede that all logistics providers are their competition. Something which in the past would not have been the case.

Why choose you as their freight forwarder?

To differentiate yourself as a freight forwarder then you now need to look more at how you market what you do and maybe less on being a particular specialist in any one area of the logistics chain. I certainly see a lot of style over substance when assisting freight companies who have run into difficulty on a project which is clearly out of their scope.

Freight Forwarding website blase
Typical freight forwarding website template seen consistently re-badged as the latest website design.
Website design :

It seems fairly obvious but is quite often over-looked or paid lip service to. Take a long hard look at your website and ask yourself, does this convey the message I want to provide to potential new customers. Does your website look familiar and have you had a look at your competitors. We see the same templated WordPress websites come up over and over again, re-badged and kept upto date for a year or so and then left as considered to time consuming to keep the updates running.

Marketing :

Consistency with your message, does your website and sales literature reflect each other. When the sales person walks out of a potential new customers door and he pulls up your website will he see a coherent message which aligns itself to what was said.

Freight forwarders that stand out are those that manage to be considered experts on their customer’s businesses. This comes in many forms but usually begins from the point of view of their existing freight forwarder having become complacent in their handling of that customers business. That foot in the door is important and your sales & Marketing is ignored at your peril.

Technology :

A big differentiator in how your customers view you comes in the way cargo is handled once you have it and there are many tools out there which will improve your customers experience and set you ahead of the game. Most freight forwarder claim their service is better than the next man’s, it is all just talk and the proof comes in the way consignments are handled and communicated back to the customer.

When technology makes you faster and more accurate with your service and information then your claims have real merit and that is hugely important. If your attitude is you can do the same job as the next forwarder but you can do it better you are re-iterating to your customer that all forwarders & logistics providers are the same, something all freight companies should be trying to steer clear of.

If you want to differentiate yourself in a crowded marketplace then you have to work out how to offer something different. Sales / Marketing / Website & Technology all play a major part in this and working out how to use it to your advantage could just be the “game changer”

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