Software providers build forwarder online rate bridge

Software providers build forwarder online rate bridge

Forwarders wanting a digital channel to quote rates to shippers often need to stitch together multiple solutions, but niche providers are expanding pre-built integrations to ease that burden. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com.

Two forwarding software providers are partnering to create an integrated offering of rate management and customer-facing tools, the firms said in a joint statement Monday, reflecting both the pressures small and medium-size forwarders face from top global logistics players and the increasingly competitive landscape for shipper business.

Kontainers, which develops e-commerce software for forwarders and container lines, and Portrix Logistic Software, a Hamburg-based provider of rate management and customized software for forwarders, will both market a bundled offering that includes their respective products and the integration between them. The idea is to help forwarders automate the rates they receive from carriers, add margin, and digitally quote to shippers, a process that generally still requires multiple systems

Founded in 2014, Kontainers has largely built its business by helping existing forwarders of all sizes and container lines build digital sales channels through online rate quoting and other transactional services. The tool is meant to help engage with shippers normally outside the reach of those forwarders, while also lowering the associated cost of sales.

Portrix has long supplied rate and contract management technology to logistics providers on a white-label basis, acting as the back-end developer for some of the largest names in global forwarding. It competes in that space with Catapult International, CargoSphere, and Info-X Solutions, among others.

“These are the two highest-priority categories of software for freight brands right now and this partnership gives you a simple way to buy both solutions as a package,” Kontainers CEO Graham Parker told JOC.com.

He added that the two companies “have an ever-evolving integration, which allows forwarders to purchase both products from either company as a bundled offering and single integration project.” The products can be purchased separately as well.

“We have long admired [Portrix’s] reputation and believe a joint solution is a huge leap forward,” Parker said in a statement. “Forwarders must now adapt in order to be continually successful this decade.” 

Crowded and competitive space

Kontainers is one of a number of software companies aiming to provide forwarders with tools to transact online via their own branded platform, and competes with providers such as Logixboard, Qwyk, and ItsMyCargo, in addition to freight rate marketplaces such as Freightos and SimpliShip. The company has three tiers of solutions: Enterprise, aimed at top 25 forwarders and containers lines; Edge, aimed at mid-size forwarders; and Essential, a pared-down version aimed at small forwarders that lack the financial muscle to invest in a more robust product.

There are a range of incumbent forwarding technology providers, such as WiseTech Global, BluJay Solutions, and Descartes, that offers software suites, but most of those companies don't focus on instant online quoting.

Portrix has been seeking to expand the reach of its product through partnerships with adjacent software providers, notably through an agreement with the freight rate benchmarking platform Xeneta, which has a similar partnership with Portrix competitor Catapult.

“Partnering with Kontainers enables our joint customers to benefit from a market-leading digital product and utilize their already complete and fully structured rate database, without having to make any major changes to their already existing setup,” Portrix CEO Henning Voss said in the statement.

Another partnership of note came in late January, when Qwyk and SimpliShip partnered to link SimpliShip’s freight rate management product and Qwyk’s vessel schedule, visibility, and booking tools to form, in effect, a hybrid transportation management system.

Contact Eric Johnson at eric.johnson@ihsmarkit.com and follow him on Twitter: @LogTechEric.