The story behind the creation of The Cooperative’s TMS FreightViewer

A competitive market, increased client expectation, and the need for seamless, visible, and more efficient work processes are some of the factors prompting traditional freight forwarders to take the digital stride. New technologies like blockchain, IoT, TMS, Digital Twins, and Big Data are reshaping the future of the freight forwarding industry. The digital transformation is happening at this very moment in the transportation and logistics industry. Independent freight forwarders are racing to adapt to the big changes and come up as digital freight forwarders. In this background, the companies that don’t adapt to the changes necessitated by Logistics 4.0 are running the risk of losing out their businesses to their competition.

Our topic for this week is a special report on the beginnings of the Coop’s member-exclusive TMS FreightViewer where Mr. Manual Cardona, the IT Manager of The Cooperative Logistics Network and the Developer of FreightViewer has provided us with valuable insights.

Manuel Cardona- The Coop's IT Manager
Manuel Cardona- The Coop’s IT Manager

The factors that motivated The Coop to create a Transport Management System

The need for a digital transformation

Back in 2018, The Coop’s President and Founder, Antonio Torres, understood the importance of the digital transformation for small and independent freight forwarders. After exhaustive research on the up-and-coming technologies setting new standards in the freight forwarding industry, he concluded that investing in a digital tool would allow hundreds of Coop members to increase operational efficiency, cut down costs and explore new avenues of business.

In that very moment, Manuel Cardona, the IT Manager of The Cooperative Logistics Network, starts developing a software that applies the more than 20 years of Antonio’s experience as a freight forwarder. “The freight forwarding industry introduced technological innovation at a much slower pace than the other industries. It has been stuck for decades in outmoded customer interfaces, and age-old manual processes. Nevertheless, the situation was rapidly transforming. We understood that forwarders were risking getting weighed down with ineffectual resource utilization, and slow response time. These are two crucial factors that can erode the customer base of freight forwarders. This encouraged Antonio Torres to figure out a way to allow The Coop members to initiate the digital change. This was when he got in touch with me”, explains Manuel Cardona.

The digital strategy

However, digitization is not just about investing in expensive software and creating an IT team for automated workflow. It is more about creating a foolproof digital strategy that is sustainable over the long term. The process requires exhaustive research, preparation and continuous customer engagement to invest in the right tools and obtain the desired outcome.

After years of diligent effort and considerable private investment, The Cooperative Logistic Network came up with FreightViewer in 2018. “It was a very exciting moment for me! We knew that we were taking a very important step that would transform the mode of operation of independent freight forwarders. Above all, we were allowing more than 320 members to create an online showcase of their door-to-door freight rates, instantly send a quotation and share shipping documents effortlessly in real-time… and all on one professional platform!”, continues Mr. Cardona.

FreightViewer: from an idea to a ground-breaking TMS

The beginnings

The Coop’s 5th Annual Meeting was the first time where FreightViewer was first presented to members. It was held in Abu Dhabi in March 2019 and it broke an attendance record. “In the first few months since the launch, we had to put in a lot of effort. FreightViewer was going to be presented in the Annual Meeting to more than 180 members and everything had to be ready. I remembered the nervousness I felt in the months leading to the Event.  Andrea Martin, The Cooperative’s FreightViewer Coordinator, was the person responsible for the FreightViewer demonstrations and for instructing members about the utilities and features of this platform. However, everything went well. She came back with some positive feedback from members which encouraged us to keep improving”.

The evolution

After the Meeting was over, FreightViewer was already a reality and more and more members started doing tests in the platform to see how it could create quotations instantly.  “We devoted considerable time explaining to members how to use it, its advantages and features. They began realizing how it could improve their day-to-day tasks. However, there was still some reluctance. It was then that we started to realize that there was a lot of space to improve the tool. I must say that Andrea was the key in the development and update of the software. She was -and still is- in constant touch with members who helped us to make FreightViewer more convenient and practical, and easily adaptable to the work reality of forwarders.”

The next step for the Cooperative’s team was to look for industry-leading companies to partner with. The first one happened in 2019 when FreightViewer established an agreement with SHIPCO, one of the world’s leading neutral NVOCC’s. “This was a huge move since it enabled the agents to access the LCL rates in over thirty countries right from FreightViewer. Thus, this meant that they could automate a considerable chunk of their day-to-day paperwork”.

After this, the Coop’s team decided it was time to expand FreightViewer’s accessibility and offer as many opportunities as possible to all users. That was when in January 2019, the Coop’s IT department added a new feature to FreightViewer that enabled members to send and receive quote requests to any of their partners both within as well as outside the Network. This update allowed them to store all quotes provided by any freight forwarder on a unique platform. Afterward, came other partnerships in project, such as the one with Onus Cargo Services, an insurance broker or BlueX an API developer.

FreightViewer nowadays

A TMS can be defined as a tool that manages and optimizes the daily operations of logistics companies. That is exactly what FreightViewer does. Its primary aim is to process all the freight forwarding operations within a unique channel. This enhances visibility for all the stakeholders of the shipping process. In a sector when an instant response is absolutely crucial, FreightViewer could add operational efficiency.

FreightViewer is reducing The Cooperative’s members’ expenses, saving their time, eliminating manual error, augmenting visibility and security, and minimizing the steps involved in shipping operations.

“FreightViewer not only helps members with instant quote generation. It can also help them to simplify the tasks of an extremely complicated business. Furthermore, it can improve their customer service by enhancing the response time they give to their clients”.

The future of FreightViewer

The updates and projects

Presently, The Cooperative is negotiating new strategic partnerships with other industry-leading companies. “We have initiated conversations with Webcargonet to enable us to upload and update more than 14 million buying airfreight rates to FreightViewer. We are also working on the process of reaching competitive insurance rates for members. Furthermore, we are planning to find a way to help members upload their rates without any effort”

Every year, The Coop’s IT department works hard to improve the tool. This will greatly enhance its potential as a mighty online tool to accelerate the operations of freight forwarders.

Why digital transformation is the need of the hour?

At the moment, it has become imperative for logistics companies to enhance the level of customer engagement. By minimizing the response time, FreightViewer will give freight forwarders the required capacity to meet their customers’ expectations. It allows them to effectively manage rates and profit margins, create personalized quotations, and send them instantly through email or PDF. Additionally, they can set up a customizable quoting webiste to offer to their clients.

The rise in the number of digital freight forwarding service providers

More than 14 years back, Maersk launched Maersk Spot Booking, their online booking platform. In the present competitive scenario, eight out of the top ten carriers have created their personal quote generation platform. Digital freight companies like Freighthub, Flexport and Freightos came into the picture in the last few years.

According to a Freightos report, only 25% of the world’s top 20 logistics companies are providing LCL online quotes. Customers wait at least two days before receiving a freight quotation.  This shows the lack of visibility and transparency in the operations of most forwarders even today.

The freight forwarding industry is evolving very fast. There will be more and more digital freight forwarding service providers. One of the prerequisites of the implementation of technology is hefty investments in software and an IT team. However, independent freight forwarders often lack the enormous assets needed to implement a digital change. This is why The Cooperative decided to offer members a highly useful online tool that allows them to start the digital transformation without any investment.

“Our TMS is a dynamic tool with upgraded capabilities which is adapted to the freight forwarders realities.  Moreover, it has an unbeatable advantage over any other software. Unlike the rest, The Coop is a network with more than 320 members across 135 countries. This allows our members to have rates from almost every corner of the world. We really believe that in FreightViewer rests the future of freight forwarders and our own future,” explains Mr. Cardona.

 

The Cooperative Logistics Network’s 2nd Virtual Meeting concludes successfully with a record number of attendees

Over 140 delegates attended The Coop’s 2nd Virtual Meeting to strengthen their networking, obtain sales leads, and forge long-term partnerships

The Cooperative Logistics Network’s 2nd Virtual Meeting that was held on 15th and 16th November was an all-out success. The two-day event registered a record attendance with over 140 delegates participating in around 5,000 videoconferences. The Virtual Meeting allowed the delegates to touch base with their partners, showcase their companies, get business opportunities and expand their outreach.

The productiveness of last year’s online event ensured an even greater attendance for this year’s conference. Moreover, the meeting allowed each delegate to schedule up to 32 one-to-one videoconferences with their partners.  The Coop’s IT team further improved the meeting platform to create a seamless videoconferencing experience. Furthermore, The Coop team was always present to fix any unexpected technical issues.

The Coop's 2nd Virtual Meeting of Independent freight forwarders
The Coop’s 2nd Virtual Meeting

 

Additionally, the conference also gave the participants the chance to attend online FreightViewer workshops. During the workshops, Andrea Martin, The Coop’s FreightViewer Coordinator explained the latest features and utilities of The Coop’s member-exclusive TMS. FreightViewer allows the members to digitize their quote generation process, satisfy customer expectations, and adapt to the changes in market demands.

After attending the meeting one member commented, “It was a well organized Virtual Meeting and was seamless. Our appreciation to you. I could attend 29 meetings and I had excellent meetings with every one. Apart from talking business, it was social and affectionate as well. We also became fully aware of the pandemic situations the world over.”

This year, the Coop afforded a special opportunity for the delegates to engage in casual conversations during the coffee breaks. The delegates were able to access a chat room with up to five random partners. This was a special initiative on The Coop’s part to foster the bonding among the network members.

To quote The Coop Founder and President Mr. Antonio Torres, “Every year our Annual Meeting gives our members a chance to boost their networking and enhance the prospects of strong partnerships. Moreover, the efficacy of our previous online meeting ensured the largest attendance with more than 140 delegates participating in over 5000 one-to-one meetings. The meeting fulfilled its primary objective of enhancing the synergy within the network. We are hoping that next year we will be able to conduct an in-person meeting where we will once again carry on with face-to-face networking.”

 

The Coop’s newsletter for September 2021 is now online

The Coop’s September newsletter includes all the latest updates from our network members, pertinent news from the sector, details about our Virtual Meeting sponsors and much more

The Cooperative Logistics Network’s autumn newsletter is now available for reading on the Coop website. This edition of our newsletter includes with all the information about our members’ accomplishments in the last three months. Additionally, there is a en excerpt of an interview with the Sales Manager of Blue X trade. In this interview he talks about how digitization has become imperative for the freight forwarding sector.

The Cooperative Logistics Network-newsletter

Click on the above image to read the newsletter

The Coop’s September Newsletter also comes with a section that introduces the readers to the sponsors of our 2nd Virtual Event. Furthermore, you will be reading all the noteworthy news from the logistics industry. Our news in focus for this newsletter is about Maersk’s acquisition of Visible SCM and how it will boost their warehouse network in the USA. Lastly, our post on tips to deal with the container shortage will certainly be an engaging and informative read.

Make sure to send us a few lines about the recent achievements of your company and get it featured in our upcoming newsletter.

Happy reading!

New logistics network reports applicants abound: Marinelink.com

The Cooperative Logistics Network launched with the promise to applicants of a six-month free trial in exchange for registering attendance at its first annual meeting next May. According to the network, hundreds of applications are being received weekly.

Founder, Antonio Torres, explained, “Attendance at the first annual meeting is the best way for agents to kick-start their membership. From our experience in the networking industry, we have found that attendance at annual meetings is crucial to ensuring any members’ success; it’s a proven fact that members who attend increase their business.”

Torres continued, “Agents work with people they have formed relationships with – this is true of any industry. I believe that the best freight forwarders understand the importance of meeting in person and so those applicants who say no to attending do not have a genuine interest in developing a worldwide network of agents and, therefore, are not for us.”

The Coop team has been studying and whittling down the number of applicants to a block of 100 founding members which will be unveiled when the network has its operational launch on December 1, 2014.

Cooperative Network proves attractive to freight forwarders: Maritime Professional

Just one week on from its launch, the team have already processed hundreds of applications and started building its block of founding members, as well as receiving hundreds of website hits and requests for information

 

“This is as good a start as any network founder could hope for,” said Managing Director Antonio Torres, himself a veteran network owner (CONQUEROR Freight Network), who exactly four years on has launched The Cooperative Logistics Network, a capped nonexclusive network with freight forwarders in each major air/seaport who cooperate in a financially secure environment to reduce costs and risks and grow their businesses together to compete against the multinationals.

“The popularity of the network is reassuring us that our first goal of recruiting 100 agents for our December operational launch is achievable as well as our target of 75 main cities covered by our first annual meeting in May 2015,” Torres said.

A six-month trial is being given to those agents who, once accepted into the network, commit to attending the networks’ first annual meeting. “You could say this is a bit of a risk but I firmly believe that those applicants who say no to attending do not have a genuine interest in developing a worldwide network of agents,” Torres explained. “These are not the kind of members we want.”

The Cooperative Logistics Network will allow a maximum of three agents per city with the exception of the largest cities allowing 5. “The network will provide the intimacy needed for business relationships to grow whilst maintaining the autonomy many forwarders want when choosing business partners,” said Membership Development Coordinator, Eduardo Paternina.

To see the full press release, click here. 

Cooperative Logistics Network proves attractive to freight forwarders: Hellenic Shipping

Just one week on from its launch, the team have already processed hundreds of applications and started building its block of founding members, as well as receiving hundreds of website hits (www.thecooperativelogisticsnetwork.com) and requests for information.

 

“This is as good a start as any network founder could hope for,” said Managing Director Antonio Torres, himself a veteran network owner, who exactly 4 years on has launched The Cooperative Logistics Network, a capped non-exclusive network with freight forwarders in each major air/seaport who co-operate in a financially secure environment to reduce costs and risks and grow their businesses together to compete against the multinationals.

“The popularity of the network is reassuring us that our first goal of recruiting 100 agents for our December operational launch is achievable as well as our target of 75 main cities covered by our first annual meeting in May 2015,” said Mr Torres.

A six-month trial is being given to those agents who, once accepted into the network, commit to attending the networks’ first annual meeting. “You could say this is a bit of a risk but I firmly believe that those applicants who say no to attending do not have a genuine interest in developing a worldwide network of agents,” explained Mr Torres, “These are not the kind of members we want.”

To see the full press release, click here.