Delivering goods all over the continent is a constantly growing business that needs to be well organized to put less burden on the environment and make the process easier, more economical, and more visible for shippers and clients alike. That is where Chain Cargo comes into the picture.
As Giovanni Gubbels, Head of Business & Operations at Chain Cargo explains to Diplomacy&Trade, his firm is helping companies ship their goods when it is direct or dedicated transportation, so, when it goes directly from A to B. “We assist clients who have particular urgency, need to ship goods of high value or high volume. We have a lot of digital organizational power and the ability to give our customers more control about the status of their goods.”
Chain Cargo has these operations across Europe. “The reason we do this is that we saw that there is a lot of inefficiency in matching shippers and carriers because of the lack of visibility. Of course, there are a lot of trucking companies and it is really a fragmented market. In our belief, digitalization is the key to help us to get more visibility, to make better matches between cargo and carrier and try to be more efficient, which will eventually mean less emissions and less pressure on the road. So, that is where we are focusing,” he adds.
Building relationships in Budapest
As regards Chain Cargo’s Hungarian subsidiary, the Head of Business & Operations points out that they did research and officially opened their office in the Hungarian capital in September last year. Why Hungary and why Budapest? “We think Budapest is a really beautiful international city with a lot of cultures, with a lot of languages, smart people and good universities. So, for attracting talent, we thought that could be a perfect place to open an office, because we need to search for carriers who want to work with us. Since we do a lot of cross border shipments in Europe, we see that in Eastern Europe and South-Eastern Europe, most of the trucking companies go cross border and do long distance shipments. In Budapest, our subsidiary, Chain Cargo Hungária Ltd., – with a staff of five employees who are creative and collaborative people – is working on building relationships with trucking companies trying to help them to make their life easier with tools which we offer for free. With these tools, they can also manage their own business better. The team is also actively looking for new carrier companies so that we have enough carriers for the loads we get from shippers. So, what they do is relationship management with the carriers.” Giovanni Gubbels finds it important to note that they give their Hungarian employees much freedom in their work and want to give them a feeling that they can be entrepreneurial.
Developing the system
The latest news about Chain Cargo says they realized as much revenue in the first third of 2021 that in the entire year of 2020. As to what he attributes this development, the Head of Business & Operations highlights that they made further developments to their system, which made it better and easier to scale. “We also, of course, added full truck loads service to our platform. Previously, we only handled courier shipments with smaller vehicles. Also, we generated trust with current and new customers. For example, Brexit had, and still has, a big impact in the market. Many carrier companies were active on the east–west European lanes. Since shipping from and to UK became harder, carrier companies seek their opportunities in other areas of Europe. Thus, there is less instant availability of trucks and more loads than carriers. Countries are slowly opening, shops are slowly opening, and you see everything going back to normal again, however the instant visible capacity is still too little. With our system, we have quite a good feeling where carriers are. Through this digitalization we can arrange a lot of shipments. So, that’s what really contributes to the quick growth we have.”
Processes go digital and drive businesses
Digitalization is a buzzword for many businesses. Explaining how much of a necessity it is at Chain Cargo and what it means in practice for their staff and their customers, Giovanni Gubbels stresses that “it is indeed a buzz word – but for us, it is within our DNA. We really are a logistics tech company, we have a lot of logistics knowledge, but we are also really in depth with engineering, we use software development and IT solutions to really come up with efficient supply chains. We believe we can move from legacy to state-of-the-art software, which needs to be scalable. Every day, we are looking into manual processes, going about the needs of carriers and shippers, look at the current situation and try to optimize and digitalize as much as possible. So, what does it mean for our staff, who are doing operational things? Their job is to make their own lives as easy as possible and sit with engineers to come up with algorithms with processes, to, at the end, only be busy with exception management, so all the regular manual flow should be out.”
From the shipper perspective, the customers, it means that they save a lot of time in the hidden processes like ‘where is my order?’ or ‘where is the truck staying?’, ‘has it already arrived?’, ‘is it already loading?’. “All the communication, which went via emails, via phone – that's now real time visible within our platform. We can also share that information with the customers’ and its customer, so that there is way less communication and time-consuming questions, compared to when they didn't have visibility. That focus is unique to help our customers thrive their business instead. Also, the booking process gets a lot easier. That's where digitalization can do a lot on both sides.”
Another term that comes to mind when talking to a Dutch company is sustainability. This is especially important in logistics, which, by nature, puts a burden on the environment, although it is not Chain Cargo’s own vehicles that hit the road.
“What we do is reduce unnecessary kilometers. In the Netherlands only, there are something like six and a half thousand courier companies, of which five and a half thousand are self-employed. That is a single driver, single person firms who have local customers but when they deliver a shipment from, for example, Amsterdam to Düsseldorf, they don't have a customer in Düsseldorf, which means that they ride back empty. What we try to do in general, is help those carriers with their back loads, to fill them up with goods. On the other side, we believe that with our enhanced carrier visibility, we can also reduce the distance between the delivery, and the new pick-up. Because we are sure that, the better the density, the lower the number of unnecessary and empty kilometers will be at the end. So, that is what we focus on with our system. Because only then, we can move more goods with less capacity, which means less unnecessary emissions,” Giovanni Gubbels explains.
Revenue multiplication expected
As Chain Cargo’s turnover in the first four months of this year suggests, life is getting back to normal sooner than later. “If we look at last year, that was Chain Cargo’s first full operational year. We did a turnover in 2020 of around EUR one million. For 2021, we forecast – and we are on track to accomplish – EUR six million in turnover. In the coming years, we want to double or triple that. For our sustainability motive, it reflects that if we can make those figures, in three years’ time, we will have a really big impact on unnecessary kilometers. Where we think we can at least save 25% unnecessary kilometers driven right now,” he concludes.
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