With air freight being tested more than ever before, the sector needs to find the courage to invest in technological solutions to drive progress, believes Moritz Claussen, co-founder and managing director at cargo.one
2020 turned the world upside down – it confronted us with unprecedented challenges, it changed the way we operate as a society, and it changed our perspective on many things. Many predictions that had been made for 2020 were suddenly rendered useless when COVID-19 hit the globe. The world went into survival mode.
Astonishingly, one prediction proved, for the most part, not to be affected: the digitalization of the industry took a big step forward – fuelled by a growing understanding that technology is here to support, and the necessity to cope with the effects of a global pandemic.
At cargo.one, we continue to believe that this trend will go on and that the global air cargo industry will go through a large and challenging transformation process. This process will leave players that value change and embrace customer-centricity to come up on top, while those that decide to hide behind the status quo will be challenged.
We have identified a couple of trends that we believe will shape the air cargo industry in 2021:
The past year, in many areas of our industry, people started using digital tools to work together – proving that online collaboration is possible. Online meetings over Zoom or Teams became the norm – something that seemed unthinkable just 15 months ago. We believe this trend will continue and even more collaboration will happen online.
At cargo.one we enable digital communication between freight forwarders and carriers, but we have also added many features that support digital communication between colleagues on the platform. Bookers are now able to share quotes with their colleagues, track shipments booked by their stations, or send reserved quotes for a team member. In many cases, digital collaboration enables the exchange of real-time information; it creates transparency and thus, it ultimately helps to create a better user experience.
As our needs and wants as consumers develop further, global air cargo will have to keep up. In many countries, we are now used to same-day or next-day delivery. We are used to full transparency of where our shipments are, accurate information, and great customer service. Much of this was pioneered by companies like Amazon, which were following a simple mantra: putting the customer first. We would be wrong to assume that global air cargo would be exempt from the growing expectations of customers.
The needs or wants of our customers have changed and will continue to change, as they are being exposed to faster and better solutions as consumers. After all, why does it take me three hours and 10 emails to book 100 kilos of air freight, if I can book a holiday flight with a click of a few buttons in minutes?
At cargo.one, we have always relentlessly focused on customer experience. Today we are proud to have a Net Promoter Score of 68 among freight forwarders and of 60 among our airline partners.
And we have seen very encouraging developments, as some players have taken big steps towards driving a customer-centric approach by implementing new technology. A great example is the implementation of iCargo by American Airlines or the continued growth of Nallian’s communication cloud solution. We believe that this trend will continue to grow and to gain in importance in 2021.
Supply chain transparency
For too long, the industry has hidden behind the argument of ‘data security and ownership’ and was slow to implement synchronous exchanges of information. We finally now see a movement towards more transparency of our supply chains, increased information flow between industry participants, and thus, a bigger focus on the user experience.
There were some great initiatives started recently, like IATA’s One Record. But setting standards across a large and wide variety of industry players is a tedious endeavor and smaller groups of players in coalitions of the willing make faster progress. A great example is Nallian’s BRU Cloud, where players connect and exchange crucial data. At cargo.one, our entire technological infrastructure is cloud and micro-service-based, which allows us to connect to any player in the industry to synchronously exchange information, for example booking data with our airline partners. We believe that the exchange and sharing of data will only continue as our customers’ expectations for real-time insights and information increase, and we believe that 2021 will be a catalyst for this development.
As an industry, we need to continue investing in technological solutions and into putting our customers first. In times like these, our industry is being put to the test more than ever before, and we need to find the courage to invest and to drive progress. At cargo.one, we are excited to help create a connected and digitally integrated global air cargo community that puts its customers first, to become more efficient and successful.