Panalpina, DHL GF join growing list of digital freight sales platforms

Two more companies have joined the now not-so-exclusive group of logistics providers offering digital freight sales platforms available in air cargo – today, Panalpina announced it will present its new customer platform at Air Cargo Europe 2019 in Munich this week, while DHL Global Forwarding (DHL GF) launched its own platform last week. While the growing number of these platforms indicates process digitalization is the new norm, how can air cargo stakeholders determine which providers are successful in their pursuit of this trend? 

In a 2017 study, Freightos surveyed freight forwarders on what service differentiation meant to them in the era of digital freight. Freight forwarders said that value-added services and customer service were critical to determining service differentiation among providers. For forwarders this meant easy automation for seamless operations – they did not want to invest in a cloud-based mailroom requiring manual processes. The first steps in automation forwarders are looking for include:  

  • Instant quoting, automated execution and improved process handling; 
  • Controlled tariffs with dynamic sourcing and pricing; and 
  • Digital feeds with marketplaces and carriers to efficiently provide dynamic pricing. 

Providers are clearly taking note of these expectations, as seen in the development of service offerings provided most recently by Panalpina and DHL GF. 

Panalpina’s new “customer portal” is designed to provide fully automated and instant quotes, collaborative shipment management and real-time lane risk assessment. According to Panalpina, the collaborative feature of its platform that allows customers and external partners to work in remote teams on the platform is an industry-first. The lane risk assessment feature will also support customers, especially in the pharmaceutical industry, to assess and determine the most reliable shipment planning, even months before a shipment. The company said it is also working to add additional features, such as machine learning for quotation, a chatbot and big data analysis. Panalpina is allowing interested customers to test the portal at the conference before its launch later this year. 

Meanwhile, DHL GF’s “myDHLi Quote & Book” is designed to provide customers instant quotes for air and ocean shipments, as well as transport insurance. On the platform, customers can compare the rates and lead times of air and ocean freight with end-to-end visibility. Customers can also save quotes – valid for 30 days – and share them via e-mail with selected recipients. With the platform, customers may also request a quote on the platform for special cargo, including dangerous goods, lithium batteries and non-stackable cargo.  

Whether these new platforms, in addition to the many other existing and developing platforms, are successful in meeting freight forwarders’ expectations remains to be seen. Regardless, it is likely we will soon see more emerge on the subject over the next year.   

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