What Sheep Taught Me About Online Freight

What sheep taught us about freight rate management and automationLast month, Freightos was invited to participate in Web Summit, the largest technology trade show in Europe. We boarded the place to Ireland, ready for  great draft beer.

We found sheep.

The show was so big it was spread across two halls. Right between the halls was a pasture with a flock of dyed red, green, blue and yellow sheep. WebSummit’s logo colors.

For three days, while talking to investors and technology reporters, all I could think of was that at some point, a marketer approached the event director and said something along the lines of :

Web Summit 2013 was great…but if you want Web Summit 2014 to really work…you need sheep.

I’m sitting at a JFK gate and can count no fewer than 28 ads in sight. But I won’t remember one tomorrow. The sheep? I’ll remember forever.

Colored sheep at WebSummit 2014

Colored sheep at WebSummit 2014

Lambchops and Brand Visibility

The sheep were put there for brand visibility, to keep people thinking about Web Summit. Why were they so effective?

  • The sheep were different. Sheep are not your traditional advertising tool. They beat advertising fatigue. Sitting at my gate at the airport in JFK, I count no less than 28 ads I can see. I will not remember one tomorrow. I remember the sheep.
  • The sheep engaged. When I saw the sheep, I whipped out my phone and snapped a picture. Walking away, dozens of people were taking pictures or discussing the sheep. They made a point.
  • The sheep were scalable. The pictures didn’t end there. You’re reading about the sheep. The pictures probably made their way around the world. The Sheep Effect may have started with the Web Summit visitors but it expanded far beyond.

What does this have to do with freight?

While tech shows and freight are about as far away from each other as possible, I couldn’t help but draw a parallel to online freight services. Yes, online freight services.

Imagine that you’re one of the 400,000 small or mid-sized businesses in the United States that imported or exported goods in 2013. When choosing which freight forwarder to ship with, there are thousands of options. You get cold calls from forwarders weekly and have tried a couple but haven’t found a 3PL to stick with. And when you do choose a logistics provider, the customer experience is not always that great.

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Freight is competitive. And 3PLs need to stick out. But at the same time, 3PLs are hurting. Low profit margins, high cost of sale, dynamic JIT supply chains and more are all pushing for lower operating costs but better service. Which is where online freight sales come in.

  • Online freight sales are different. 86% of the time, a satisfied customer will be willing to pay more. But a customer that buys on Amazon in seconds, streams videos on Netflix and buys clothing online will not be happy waiting days for a freight quote. Freight providers need to provide an outstanding customer experience. Instant, on-demand freight quotes does just that.
  • Online freight sales engage. The average freight sales professional spends 43% of his time dealing with pricing, quoting and RFPs instead of cultivating client relationships. Once you automate the tedious quoting, sales executives can focus on sales instead of data. Which means higher engagement and happier customers.
  • Online freight scales. For a 3PL, the time spent spot quoting can cost well over $100. Higher spot quote margins are quickly eroded by negotiations and repeat quoting. Online, instant quoting lets 3PLs quote instantly to infinite prospects, scaling up to convert leads into prospects

Sheep isn’t right for everyone…but if you’re the company stuck with a traditional billboard while your competitor is already using livestock to bring in attention, you know you’re going to be left behind, feeling sheepish.