As I read about yet another freight forwarder being acquired by a larger multinational freight forwarder (or shipping line) some question if there is still a space for medium freight forwarding companies such as ours into the future?
At a meeting recently I was told “that all of you freight forwarders are the same” and this is not something I take offense to because technically it is correct. The functions of moving freight are the same from forwarder to forwarder, just simply based on the nature of the processes. But look closer and you will see the fundamental differences very quickly. It can be the flexibility and intimate nature of a smaller forwarder that makes all the difference to a company’s efficiencies and their own ability to keep a satisfied client base.
A forwarder’s ability to come up with bespoke solutions and maintain them is much easier for smaller offices where bureaucracy and hierarchical decision making is eliminated, and decisions come immediately.
However, it is in a market such as the one we all find ourselves in where cost remains king and companies make reactional decisions based on pressure from higher up. Shipping no matter how you look at it right now is a game of strength, resilience and cunning. In some cases, customers are paying 5 times what they were last year for a single box. Business cannot always absorb those sorts of increases and the consumer will not either. So, my concern is whether customers are prepared to weather the storm and pay slightly more in this current market for a long-term sustainable solution and partnership.
Irrelevant of the market trends or pressures however, I believe there will always be a space for medium to smaller forwarders. The sheer concentration of experience at the end of a simple phone call often outweighs a USD 100 saving. It is more like having your own logistics professional on board than having an independent forwarder and whilst we are in this current market, medium and smaller forwarders need to stay the course, work even harder for our clients, and continue to show these Pac Man multinationals why we are still here.
Angela Gambell – Director of Sales & Marketing