Twenty years ago, shoppers purchased most goods in stores, hired contractors through referrals, and booked travel over the phone. Comparing prices and options was so time consuming that most people would simply accept the first reasonable offering. Today, it is almost unthinkable for consumers to make a decision without seeing their options side by side. The business-to-business marketplace, however, has not necessarily kept up.
While technology has certainly touched every industry, freight transport lags behind as one of the last bastions of old-school commerce. It still depends heavily on offline communication, manual spreadsheets and opaque price quotes.
Freight forwarders are responsible for arranging shipments from the manufacturer to the final point of distribution. Each shipment traditionally requires several days to obtain a quote from an overseas agent, negotiate a contract and book a carrier, contending with obstacles like time zones, language barriers and last-minute price hikes.
The SkySpace platform brings the process online, allowing forwarders to compare prices and book shipments in minutes. The company partners with more than 100 airlines to offer 50,000 flight options to their customers. Pricing is updated daily, enabling instant quotes for a given route. Forwarders can use the platform to upload customs documents to avoid unexpected delays, and certify the condition of goods at origin in case of damage.
The technology levels the playing field for small and medium sized freight forwarders to compete in an industry long ruled by handshake deals between a few big players. These companies lack the bargaining power of multinational competitors, so they often face higher prices and lower levels of service. They may even have to hire their own competitors to complete routes, if booking through other online platforms. Unlike these auction sites, SkySpace enables forwarders to book their route from the carrier.
Consumers complete their online orders online with the help of third-party price comparison tools. Now, the same levels of transparency and efficiency are available to freight forwarders booking air cargo.