近日，从事货运代理近50年的行业前辈Bill Paul的一篇"What's My Issue With Flexport? " 再次引发业界质疑Flexport的大讨论，这就是今天最航运的主题，我们放上Bill Paul的核心观点和精选的各方评论，欢迎互动，留下您的观点。
Bill Paul 原文观点
Every year there are more of them coming into existence and that's great for the industry. Competition drives competition. Competition is healthy.
The difference with Flexport is that in my opinion, they are brash and braggadocious. They've been heavily backed by investors which has enabled them to become a marketing machine.
That's okay, too but what isn't okay is telling the world that Freight Forwarders are archaic, antiquated and still using stone, chisels and abacuses.
Flexport are using the same Airlines, Steamship Lines, Rail Carriers and Truckers as every other Freight Forwarder. They are bound over by the same rules and regulations as everyone else.
They have their own technology but so do virtually every one of their competitors. For those who don't have bespoke technology, there's amazing technology that can be bought off the shelf.
What Flexport doesn't have is the network, the global infrastructure, the scale, the buying power, the history or the people. Ultimately, in this business, it's the people who make the difference.
Several years ago I asked Flexport what they were doing that was different to any other Freight Forwarder. They didn't or couldn't answer that question then and they haven't or can't answer that question today.
In a very unofficial capacity, I'm the voice of the Freight Forwarders and the industry they've shown and continue to show little or no respect for.
And since I'm part of that industry, and Freight Forwarding has been flowing through my veins for nearly 50 years.
I'm not going to let them bash, mislead, bamboozle or bullshit their way into a place of any significance without challenging them every time I get the chance.
Marcus, Xiaobin Zhang - 顺丰集团 - Senior Investment Manager
it is the food calling me to the restaurant，not the nice spoon.
Alex Sidorec - VP Logistics at Olam Activating Leagile Ecosystems
I like the point of assessing their capabilities by looking at the nature of the ecosystem they are operating within to showcase that Flexport will be exposed to the same industry boundaries / constraints as its native players.
But considering the amount of resources they got, there is certainly a probability that they might come up with some business model innovations etc. (well, in case those resources are wisely invested) or...
in the worst case, they will find the way to fake it until they really make it :)
Douglas Schaff - Global Transportation and Logistics Professional
and, for those of us who clawed our way up thru the traditional forwarders, like your self, and have interviewed with the Flexport executives...they are totally clueless as to the keys for success and sustainability.
it's all a marketing game driven by excess of Chinese capital.
Frank Szewczyk - President & CEO at Mosquito One
They will run out of money first. The adage, sell at a loss and make it up in market share, only lasts so long. Investors will get wise sooner than later. With exception of a few, they have no freight forwarding background.
What the outside always underestimates, is how complex and complicated the freight forwarding business is. I dont have 50 years of experience like Bill, but with 43 years I believe I also have a voice.
Peter Richards - Continuous Improvement Manager at Jetco Delivery
Now I understand. Having worked for 14 years on two continents for panalpina and watched as we printed money during the great times to being sold to a competitor I fully understand hard work and the value of every single dollar.
Btw I got out of panalpina about a year before DSV. A coincidence? I think not haha As you stated competition keeps everybody on their toes. It’s healthy when it’s fair.
When somebody arrives into a market and promises the moon for half the price what existing client wouldn’t jump to them.
But the long run is where we hope people see the difference. However, some boards and directors don’t see this and will definitely pressure people to match or beat flexport pricing which clearly is a struggle.
Then they will think that the issue is staffing and heads will roll all because of investors with deeper pockets able to withstand the hit.
I hope clients wake up and smell the roses and go for reliability over quick fix. No point in paying for cheap if it doesn’t arrive intact
Richard Brooks - Business Development Manager at Yusen Logistics (UK) Ltd
Great read and in point. Flexport is a name I am hearing more and more here in the UK with them calling in to see my customers to no avail. Will never be a big player.
Peter Herling - Global Director
either way “orange is the new black” and flexport is packaging their services exceptional well and safe to say have a strong focus on building a brand ...
all the points you are making does not matter to many in 2019 if flexport’s marketing is working, their business is growing and they are building brand value (even without making money) ...
many new businesses seems irrational in the beginning to some extend as others otherwise would have done it already ....
don’t be petty and go after flexport ... if anything address their investors who’s making it possible for flexport to be flexport ..
Robert Garrison - CEO, Mercado. International trade is complicated, we make it easier
I really admire these guys in the same way that I admired Fritz/Lynn Fritz, Phoenix/Bill McInerney , and Expeditors/Pete Rose.
我真的很钦佩这些人(Flexport)，就像我钦佩Fritz的Lynn Fritz, Phoenix的Bill McInerney和Expeditors的Pete Rose他们一样。
Pete especially had both the brash and braggadocio that it took to turn EI into a powerhouse.
Their 'innovations' at the time were process, standardization, and employee gain sharing, which at the time were all incredibly innovative notions for a Forwarder and then as now it rubbed all their competitors the wrong way.
I visited their operations in Dalllas, Sao Paulo, and Colombo and once inside their offices you could barely tell you were in 3 different countries.
Same OS, Same Titles, Same Procedures. I used to call them the McDonalds of Forwarding and their profits always reflected that.
Being brash, braggadocio, and innovative should be considered complements not insults if your goal is to build a great company.
Time will tell whether FP is in fact brash and innovative enough to get there, but they should be admired not admonished for jumping into the arena and taking on all comers just as others did before them.
Eric Johnson - Senior Editor, Technology at JOC.com
Delicately wading into this debate to say that all my intel on Flexport’s pricing suggests they are not (and have not been) undercutting the market.
Close to 100 percent of shippers and buying reps I’ve spoken to about them have told me their pricing is often above market.
Snehal Agarwal - GM - Global Commercial and Marketing
Valuations dont mean they are building a long term business. Finally some one not going with the herd. Great opinion piece by Paul. They may have cost savings over the brick and mortar ffwrs which will accrue as they scale.
Even the largest ffwr in the world has less than 2% market share. We have room for all innovations and new comers. May the best man/woman/computer win !
Weiqiang （Alan) ChenWeiqiang - Director, Information Technology at Worldwide Logistics Group China.
To create new processes and standardization within the organization and its vendors are not easy but possible, I was convinced on this after I looked into Flexport’s web function for customers.
Customers are always looking for their “way” of doing logistics, Flexport is trying to put everything in the IT solution. I am not sure how many “needs” Flexport is receiving for their IT systems from their customer every day.
But I do believe needs are coming more and more, as customers are always looking for their “own way” to be served in this industry.
Technology believers are trying to design something huge to cover all the needs. Some of the software companies are also trying to provide solution for small forwarders, big forwarders, even trading, trucking, customs...
but where is the end, and can people are all the same? Investors are always trying to pack things to be nicer, using many cool terms, they have their own agenda and philosophy, but I believe the core is always cheaper and nicer.
I also happy to see Flexport truly combines the advantage of technology and the good stuffs mentioned by Bill.
Caitlin Murphy - Founder at Global Gateway Logistics | 2019 Tory Burch Foundation Fellow
Bill Paul Great article. I wholeheartedly agree it is the network and people that make the different in this industry (it is literally a slide in my pitch deck of our competitive advantage!).
I've had a few recent clients come to our firm from Flexport due to a lack of customer service there.
I've been in freight forwarding for over a decade before starting my firm and although they may be a better funded rival, their eyes are on the scale, not the solution.
The solution comes from listening to the true issues of clients, years of experience understanding global trade as a forwarder and from the view of clients, and implementing innovations to the industry to solve those issues.
John O'Brien - President at eCom Global Systems divn of eCom Global Network and Franchise
Knowledge and expertise is the requirement in the global market (not to be confused with domestic freight) and only gained by years of learning.
Technology is a driver to increase efficiency but as you say the process is same for everyone in our business. Fedex / UPS hv spent billions on technology and continuing process its never enough and it will never ever be perfect.
The Global market changes ever time governments change their underwear. Flexport is yet to have both the knowledge and the technology... so good luck !
Imran Jafri - Director. TronGlobal Pakistan
I have over 20 years experience in this industry. Dating back to when the most common method of communication was FAX and everyone was just getting used to email and sending documents in an attachment.
Over the period of decades I have witnessed many disruptive companies emerging out of nowhere. Some were successful others don’t. However there was a common trend, as given the nature of our industry we have a very limited tricks to grab the market share.
First and foremost is pricing. Especially for SME importers and exporters.
They all sold at cost or below to grab these SME, and build up clientele. Large sized clients differ in their demand of services, so they gradually come along as you build up your brand in the market.
Pricing is a priority for them but not the topmost. Once they had acquired sufficient market share or enough to afford the increase in their pricing, they made appropriate changes to their offerings.
Nothing I have said, is unfamiliar with anyone who has been in this industry for a couple of years.
It’s a common tactic followed by every company who wanted to grab a large market share in a relatively shorter period of time. It’s been true since Adam and almost in every industry. Amazon, Uber you name it.
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