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April 30 2018

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April 30 2018 | The Journal of Commerce 15 www.joc.com International Maritime from one place to another according to the needs of a customer. While the digitalization of the logistics is accepted as a game changer, its threat to legacy forwarders is being subverted as they embrace the im- proving visibility flowing down the supply chain and invest in-house or through acquisition to integrate vast amounts of available data. Further, there is little sign of a siege mentality in conversations The Journal of Commerce had with three traditional forwarders — one a small London-based operation that has only been trading since mid-2017, the second a large global forward- er based in Italy, and the third a German operation that is among the world's largest logistics companies. FSC — start-up forwarder FSC Oceans is a start-up freight forwarder in the traditional model, with a few staff of forwarding AMID TALK OF how so-called new digi- tal forwarders will transform and even disrupt the industry, more established forwarders are flaunting their technol- ogy chops, confident that they still have an edge on new entrants. Even as a multitude of emerg- ing digital forwarders enter the market, their more conventional counterparts emphasize that, at its core function, forwarding involves physically transporting a container industry veterans working together in a small office to manage freight transport solutions for customers brought in by a sales team. It is a privately funded company based in Fulham High Street. While the forwarder has an online presence, its website presents an outline of services offered with useful infor- mation on documentation required for international shipping. This startup is not a digital for- warder. There is no online quoting and container booking interface, no rate marketplace, no Big Data analysis or Internet of Things. FSC Oceans is not technology free — its tech solutions are delivered through a network of technology partners — but the forwarder is primarily involved in handling ocean freight and has direct relationships with all the major carriers. "There are not many startups in forwarding, but we believe there is a real area of weakness with forward- ers in general and in what they offer their customers," said Alan Hewitt, FSC Oceans commercial director. Hewitt has been with the company since November and was with RH Freight Services in the United Kingdom for many years and then with Kuehne + Nagel after it acquired the company in 2011. "Customers are looking for an extension of their business, not a service provider that will give them a price and no accountability. A lot of what we do is automated, but our customers still need a person at the other end of the phone. It is not just a transactional approach. We want to go in deeper because that kind of relationship doesn't last long unless you provide value." Hewitt said it all came down to what the customer wanted. "You can create mystique around what the next generation will look like, but ultimately if it is not providing what a customer wants, it will be a waste of resources." By the end of February, FSC Oceans had turned over just over $2 million, well on its way toward meeting a three- year target of $14 million. The importance of people Operating on a far greater scale is Florence-based forwarder Savino Del Bene, which in 2017 handled 560,000 Downplaying digital disruption Established forwarders confident they have what it takes to keep customers happy By Greg Knowler Shutterstock.com "You cannot prevent a snowstorm, and a computer cannot advise you what to do if your open-top containers are caught in a storm." Importing & Exporting | Ports | Carriers | Breakbulk | Global Logistics

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