If you’re reading this on your cellphone, I hope this page loaded in under a second. Otherwise, I probably lost your attention, making you 50% likely never to return to this site and 33% more likely to go check out a competitors site instead (no, really). If this was a video and it took longer than ten to start showing, research shows that over 40% of viewers would have closed the tab already.
Short attention span without instant gratification

The desire for instant online gratification impacts every aspect of our life. New companies let you scan in food boxes before you throw them out so that you can automate online shopping. You can get instant online dates, order an iPod with same-date shipping from eBay or order a plane ticket around the world in under a minute on Expedia.

But instant freight quoting, domestic or international, hasn’t gotten on board. Which is strange because, by all accounts, online, automated sales can change a business. In July 1996, Michael Dell launched the online Dell website. By 1997, it was pulling in over $3 million dollars of sales a DAY! Consumers wanted faster service. They wanted the instant experience – instant pricing, instant shipping, instant customization. And in the past 18 years, we know how much more instant the world has become.

Okay, she’s probably not waiting for a freight shipping quote. But you get the picture.

But instant freight quotes are hard!

Yes, freight and cargo shipping is far more complicated than courier shipping…but let’s take a quick look at the advantages to online sales:

1. New business – Sometimes, nothing beats grunt work. I went to the 15 largest freight forwarder’s websites, searched out a web form and tried to generate a freight quote. You can see for yourself how it took literally days to get even one or two quotes. Without instant quotes, businesses were missing out on a huge swatch of inbound sales, all because they didn’t roll out better 3PL software.
2. Efficiency – 3PL sales rely on salespeople. But if those people spend there entire day digging through freight contacts and rates, they simply aren’t going to have time for sales. Think of a travel agency, with each agent spending 20 minutes on finding the right flights. If you can find software to do the dirty work, that frees up the agent to actually make sales.
3. Accuracy – Amazon sells almost $26 billion dollars worth of goods each quarter, without one sales person needing to answer the phone. And when computers handle the pricing, they don’t have problems carrying the zeros. Prices are accurate. Compare that to the Maersk CEO’s admission that 12% of all freight invoices are inaccurate.

Automated freight quotes does not mean that people are out of the loop.
As we said earlier, freight is complicated. Freight cargo needs personal attention but so does freight pricing. While you can automate freight quotes on your website, you can also automation technology to provide an instant quote and then have your salesperson be in touch with the prospect. Instead of wasting time on calculating quotes, all your sales guy needs to do is make the customer happy, so that your bottom line also becomes happy. Sell online…and sell more.
Hey, it sure worked for Dell.