The phone call that was once required for a shipper to book an airfreight shipment with a legacy forwarder may soon become unnecessary for general freight shipments. On 30 November, DHL Global Forwarding announced it was expanding the capabilities of its customer portal DHL Interactive Online Freight, with the introduction of an Online Freight Quotation & Booking service.
Shippers and consignees using the tool (sample form at right) now have instant access to quotes, and can book shipments via DHL’s Air Connect and Air Economy Products for consignments under 2,000 kg with just a few mouse clicks. Freight quotes are calculated based on door-to-door rates, and shipment weight and dimensions. Prior to booking, shippers have full transparency of costs related to import duties and insurance.
DHL says that the service is immediately available in 40 countries, and covers most of the major trans-pacific and Asia-to-Europe trade lanes, including Australia, China, Germany, Japan and USA. Angelos Orfanos, global head of marketing & sales, DHL Global Forwarding said, “International shipping doesn’t need to be a complex task. From searching for the right supplier through to getting a competitive price, this should be easily available online.” Now stop and think for a moment, not too long ago, many forwarders maintained that even the booking process for general freight shipments was too complex to be digitalized.
Forwarders are now starting to change their tune. In recent years, online marketplaces such as Freightos and Flexport have forayed into the forwarding business and are doing precisely what forwarders previously said was impossible: offering online quoting and booking services from multiple forwarders. Kuehne + Nagel became the first of the industry-leading forwarders to fully digitalize the quote and booking process with its KN FreightNet online booking platform in 2015, after limited tests which were launched the year prior in 2014. In September 2017, Panalpina followed K+N with limited tests of an online booking tool aimed at SMEs. Next year, Panalpina plans to continue the tool’s rollout across a wider product range and customer base. With three forwarders already onboard, will other large forwarders move to digitalize?