When a freight exchange is not just a freight exchange
If you are a road haulier, freight forwarder or working with logistics, you have probably come across freight exchanges. If not, the short explanation is that freight exchanges are a kind of internet noticeboard to offer available loads and freight jobs which transport sellers then find. Or the transport sellers offer their vehicle capacity. Altogether, freight exchanges are pure company profit boosters. And the range of freight exchanges is very broad with more than hundred different just in Europe: You find the smaller ones who are specialised in different niches and you find the large companies with thousands of users. But how do you choose the right one? The one with the highest number of users? Europe’s largest transport platform TimoCom and their Chief Representative, Marcel Frings, ask for caution, when looking for the right freight exchange in relation to the highest number of users. “In our opinion, it is not the number of users which is essential but the number of offers entered daily in the freight exchange.” A calculator is enough to distinguish a successful platform from others: “TimoCom, for example, has 100,000 users who offer up to 450,000 freight and vehicle offers daily. That means that each user enters an average of 4.5 offers daily. Other transport exchanges increase their number of users regularly for advertisement. When looking at the number of offers in these exchanges, you can see that in some cases an average of 2.3 offers are placed per user”, explains Frings. In his and TimoCom’s opinion the freight offers / available loads are the true indicator.
No standard definition
In fact “user” is not clearly defined among the freight exchanges. This is the reason why some transport exchange providers publish high numbers in their advertisements. The number of offers can be understood by all customers – everyone can check if an exchange is highly frequented or not. The real number of users is not easy to determine because of the lack of a standard definition. TimoCom is transparent and comprehensible in this matter as each new user must register. Apart from that, each user must pay a user fee. This way companies only register an employee as user if he or she is actually using the exchange. In other freight exchanges “users” can be added unlimited and free of charge. These may appear in the statistics but not in the transport exchange. “If you give out all the tickets for a football game for free but only a third comes to the game, we say that the tickets are sold out but is does not change the fact that the stadium is empty”, says Frings, comparing the situation. “The freight exchanges that are really worth it are the ones with more offers than users, says Frings.
Quantity and quality
Another decisive factor when choosing a freight and vehicle exchange, in addition to the number of offers, is the reliability of potential business partners within the transport exchange. The more extensive the security packet offered by the transport platform is, the harder it is for “black sheep” to do business. TimoCom offers, for example, a multi-level security net that includes more than “just” the obligatory rigorous access check. Should a payment come into default, the in-house debt collecting department, under lawyer Alexander Oebel, steps into action. Together with his team, he helps customers receive monies owed without resorting to law – a service that should be included in the truly secure freight and vehicle exchanges.
Take these above thoughts into account when you are looking for a freight exchange and have in mind that a high number of users does not always equal quality.
Photo copyright: @Zoe