Building trust with a digital platform, driven by real people

It is clear to us at Twill that in today’s world of online shopping, online banking, online socializing, and online everything, a digital platform is a requirement in most industries across the world – as people continue to spend more time than ever online.

While it had a reputation for being a slow starter in the digital space, the shipping industry is really starting to embrace digital technologies more and more – which is why we’re here! Other industries from travel to logistics are joining in embracing technology too.

But with all this technology there comes a question of trust – and trust in technology, big or small, is set to be the next battle that companies and society have to face.

A digital platform isn’t enough on its own

At Twill, we are constantly improving and adjusting our online platform to better suit our customers’ needs and expectations – but that’s just the start of our work. With a good digital platform customers can book and track their valuable cargo with ease, no matter the time of day.  But we understand that on its own, a good platform isn’t enough.

In order to build trust, those buttons you click on a website need to be backed up with real life experience; real life people who know what to do to get your cargo delivered. Unlike many of our competitors, at Twill we’re not only a group of developers writing code (although we’re that too!) – we’re also shipping and freight forwarding experts.

We’ve been in the industry for over a century, if you look back at our history as A.P Moller Maersk. Just in our management team alone, we have over 30 years of experience in the shipping and freight forwarding industry…and with an average age of 35, you can say it’s in our DNA. Having this substance of experience, as well as a simple, slick and easy-to-use platform is important to us.

Trust in your provider should be a priority

An online platform is only as trustworthy as the people behind the scenes and customers understand this. At Twill, you’re not dependent on the fancy buttons that you can see on our platform, you’re dependent on Cathy from the USA or Marco from Mexico.

Just like the rest of our customer care team members, they come from the freight forwarding industry and have been dealing with cargo like yours well before online platforms made an appearance in our industry.

In the online world, it’s not always the case that what you see is what you get – but with your cargo, and your business, it’s imperative that you find a freight forwarding partner that you can trust. In Twill, it doesn’t matter what happens in the online world, you can rest assured that behind every URL and every piece of code lies a freight forwarding expert, ready to assist you.

The origin process: ensuring safe passage for your cargo

At Twill, we want to provide our customers with the best service possible – minimising their costs, risk and creating a hassle-free environment for them to move their cargo around the world. Doing this is never more important than at ‘origin’. The early stages of a journey are driven by a number of important processes that are crucial to ensuring a cargo’s safe passage and our customers’ peace of mind.

We spoke to Huyen Nguyen, an Export Customer Care Ninja at Twill’s office in Vietnam, about what the origin process entails. She describes what the potential risks are and how we manage them at Twill.

Understanding the process

“The process at origin depends on the International Commercial Terms, or Incoterms, agreed between the supplier and buyer – this can vary and affects the liability we have in the cargo’s journey. One of the most common terms we see is ‘Free on Board’ (FOB). Using this as an example, the process begins when either the buyer or the supplier log into the Twill platform and place a booking. Depending on who initiated the booking, the other party then confirms the booking – indicating both are in agreement of what is expected.

“Once things have been confirmed, both parties will receive confirmation that includes details about the vessel, voyage, estimated time of departure at the port of loading (ETD), estimated time of arrival at the port of discharge (ETA), and other necessary information. For the buyer, this means they can plan for the arrival of their goods and start tracking the journey on Twill. Next, it’s important to get all the necessary shipping instructions uploaded, loading the container and getting it cleared through customs. Most of this is handled by the supplier, but we will stay informed of any changes and keep the buyer notified.

“Once the container has been loaded and the vessel has departed, the supplier’s liability ends under FOB incoterm.  Therefore, it’s important that we make sure everything is loaded correctly and that all parties are made aware of any changes in the schedule.

“Finally, we will review the Bill of Lading (BL) which is a crucial document that allows the release of the cargo to the consignee – so it’s also important that the BL is accurate. Besides the BL, there are customs documents such as the commercial invoice and packing list that are necessary for the import procedure.”

What are the risks and how do we avoid them?

“There are a number of things that could go wrong when preparing cargo to be exported. Here are some of the typical problems that can occur to any supplier, anywhere:

  • Space shortage – With all the mega cargo vessels and cargo liners it’s hard to imagine a space shortage when trying to secure a little 20-foot container. But it has happened and it will happen again – it is important for our customers to anticipate busy periods such as Christmas or New Year.
  • Container rolling – There are a number of reasons why your container may not be loaded on board a vessel as planned. Some of these are out of your control like a carrier’s capacity issue. Other reasons can include a delivery truck breaking down and your container is late at the port of loading, or your carrier didn’t clear customs by the carrier’s deadline.
  • Ad-hoc costs – Aside from the local charges that are applied to every shipment there are additional costs in the export process that suppliers should be very careful of, such as detention and demurrage, amendments to the customs declaration, penalties for lateness or other amendments. These costs could run into the thousands which is why getting the origin process right is so important.

How do we avoid these risks?

“At Twill, we do a number of things to mitigate and avoid these risks for our customers. We have years of experience in the freight forwarding industry. We have the advantage of that knowledge and expertise, and can often resolve many issues before they reach the customer. Additionally, we actively cooperate with the supplier to closely monitor progress through our 7 key milestones. The Twill platform is constantly evolving and updating to ensure a more and more seamless experience and an all-in-one portal for our customers.

“The origin process is intricate and attention to detail is key. One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to make sure you place your booking in advance – at least five days before the ‘Goods Ready Date’. This should be easy with a good forecast and it gives us time to do the best job we can for you. Beyond that, just remember we’re here to help and don’t hesitate to contact us for any issue, query, or input you may have during the process! If you’ve never booked with us before then get in touch and we’ll show you how we can make the whole process smoother!”

International Women’s Day – the logistics view

Today marks International Women’s Day across the globe. While it is improving (here at Twill 50% of our management are women – a stat that we’re very proud of) the logistics industry continues to dominated by men.

As we look to tackle this disparity we spoke to Daisy Zhang, Twill Head of Product, about her experience as a woman working in logistics – and the lessons she has learnt in her time in the industry:

Q: International Women’s Day covers a host of issues – how do you embrace it? 

“If you search online, you can find plenty of articles talking about women’s rights in the workplace, as well as how to keep the balance between work, life, family and the million other things we all want to keep up with! That can be a very heated topic, but I like to focus on how we as women can empower ourselves and each other – because we know we can do the same jobs as men in this industry.

“Let’s assume that you are lucky, as I am, to work for an organization respecting diversity and equality. I’ve found that it is about how we embrace the opportunities presented to us – how do we take hold of them and let our work shine; leading us to the rewards and recognition we know we deserve.”

Q: Have you ever felt a unique pressure as a woman in this industry? 

“I think for a lot of women in any industry, but particularly in technical industries where men do still represent the majority of positions, there is a tendency to question yourself – if you might be one of few women in your team, it might feel like there is more of a spotlight on you. I know there have been times in my career when I asked myself – ‘am I really capable of this?’, ‘what if I fail?’, ‘what might people say or think if I fail?’ – but you have to be confident!

“When I decided to join Twill, if I had worried too much about my lack of digital experience for example, instead of focusing on what value I can bring, that could have swallowed me up and I might not have joined the company in the first place – which I know I would have regretted for life.

“It’s natural for anyone, woman or man, to question themselves, but now when I do question myself I try and be more constructive – ‘What should I do if I take this opportunity?’ or ‘How can I manage the capability gap?’ – these questions aren’t about whether I can do X, Y or Z, because I know I can. They’re about how I will do it.”

Q: You talk about being more confident – how did you get that confidence?

“I think the most important thing is, if you know there are things that you’re good at, don’t be shy – let people know about it!

“There are a lot of women who don’t need to be told this – every woman is different – but in previous jobs I used to be one of those people who sits in the corner and silently gets the job done. It wasn’t until later that I found out that people had very little visibility of what I achieved and what I was good at. That’s a frustrating feeling and it’s something I have actively worked to change.

“Hiding your strengths is a loss of opportunity to both you and your organization. At Twill we know what each other’s strengths are across the company and we work to give everyone the opportunity to display those strengths whenever possible.” 

Q: Is there a final piece of advice you’d like to leave us with?

“I’d say know what it is you deserve. If you feel that you are demotivated because you are not getting what you deserve – whether that’s a salary increase or job opportunity, or something much smaller – don’t keep the feeling to yourself. Be outspoken about it. You owe yourself a fair chance to fight for what you deserve.

“I greatly appreciate all the efforts from those organizations and communities which are pushing forward the progress of women rights and equality in the workplace – particularly in the logistics industry. But I truly believe, at the end of day, the greatest empowerment has to come from ourselves!”

One Year On: Disrupting logistics and keeping it simple

In April, it will be one year since Twill’s launch at Multimodal 2017 in Birmingham, UK. We have been working to disrupt logistics ever since, with our digital freight forwarding platform.

It is amazing to realize how far we have come. We are now serving customers in UK, Spain, Poland and Czech and very soon we will be opened in USA and Mexico. Our customers are importing from China, Vietnam, Indonesia and India.

We are also being mentioned in several publications as a key player in the digitalization of freight forwarding. For example, last week, McKinsey & Co – a global consulting firm – highlighted our potential to disrupt Air Freight before we even launch that service. This is just the beginning and in this year alone we will be able to serve many more customers around the World with a complete offer.

Twill is for everyone

Looking back, it is interesting to realize that we haven’t always being right. For example, when we started we made a set a number of hypothesis, some were proven and some were not.

One hypothesis that didn’t prove right is that we were expecting tech-savvy customers to be the first ones to adopt Twill. In reality, while a basic level of proficiency is needed, if you can buy anything online, you can book your shipping with us – there is no need to be tech savvy to use Twill. Our customers cover a wide spectrum of age, experience and interests.

Why? And how do we do it?

Twill is for everyone because we are working our very best all the time to make shipping with Twill as simple as possible for you, that’s why we exist. We listen to our customers. Daily, someone in Twill is talking to a customer somewhere in the World. These interactions can be planned interviews, calls or notes via our platform. Your requests, recommendations and experiences get forwarded to our Product and Tech teams that make sure they are prioritized and executed at the right time.

So what customers are the best fit for Twill?

The customers that benefit the most from Twill are those that want to be in control of their shipments without having the hassle to create and maintain a spiderweb of trackers, calls and emails with multiple parties.

We will continue our journey keeping always in mind our end goal – disrupting logistics and making shipping simple for our customers.

-Juan Cajiao; Twill Head of Growth

How do we pick the right carrier for your cargo?

Here at Twill we pride ourselves on making the shipping process simple for our customers. A crucial part of doing that is putting your cargo in the right hands – which means we put a lot time into picking the right carrier.

But what sort of things do we consider when we do this? What makes a good carrier? We asked Dedi Junaedi in our Customer Care team for his insight – here’s what he had to say:

“There is a lot of trust involved in the shipping industry and a lot of different parties have to work together. Our customers trust us to put their cargo on a carrier that will ensure its safe passage – so our relationship with carriers has to be strong. There are some key factors we take into consideration when recommending carriers to customers.”

Is the carrier reliable? Do they have a good reputation?

“One of the first things we look at when choosing a carrier is whether they have a good reputation and whether they are reliable. Sometimes we will have worked with a carrier a number of times in the past and so we know whether they are capable of doing a good job or not. We also have a close relationship with Damco, who have a number of core carriers that they use and trust, so we can make use of their pre-selected carriers and know that reliability won’t be an issue.

“To help in this process, we will provide feedback once or twice a year to those carriers we think are reliable. This helps us in the future to build up a base of information about the carriers we use and those that we know we can count on to do a good job.”

Do they fit the customer’s needs?

“The next thing we will check is whether the carrier meets the needs of our customer. This usually refers specifically to their schedule and transit time

“We might have found a carrier with a great reputation that we know is reliable, but ultimately if they can’t deliver to the schedule that our customer requires then we aren’t able to take the process forward.”

How is their service? Do they keep us informed?

“While ultimately, for Twill, our customer is the buyer, we are effectively the customer of the carrier. So when we are picking the right carrier, we will be sure to check whether they provide a good service to us at Twill.

“This usually includes aspects such as whether or not they are pro-active in keeping us updated throughout a cargo’s journey – so that we can then update our customer. It might also be about whether the data of their carrier and containers is kept up to date and how quick they are in supplying documents like the Bill of Lading that is so crucial to a cargo’s journey.”

How old are their containers, and what condition are they in?

“It is so important that our customer’s cargo is safe and secure throughout its journey, so the age and condition of a carrier’s containers is something we always look at closely. Are they showing signs of wear, or damage? When cargo is so important to a company’s success it’s crucial we make sure it will reach its destination in the same condition it left its origin.”

-Dedi Junaedi, Twill Customer Care

Don’t be afraid of failure, it’s a chance to learn

At Twill we encourage a very open and honest environment in our day to day working, encouraging our employees to communicate with each other, share knowledge and offer support. As part of this we believe that failures, when they arise, are not the end of the world, but instead an opportunity to grow and learn. We spoke to one Twiller, Alina Croitoru who is an Employee Experience Catalyst at Twill, about her views on overcoming difficulties and that dreaded word – failure:

Failure is a gift

“I genuinely believe failure is a gift. A gift that you give to yourself to learn, to grow, to have the chance to improve. And since I started my journey with Twill, this statement followed my steps. From my own little world, I am happy to share a few of my most important learnings from the community that represents Twill.

“I’ve learned to be vulnerable, to overcome my fear of being unguarded, of showing my sensibilities. The dynamics that people create in Twill showed me that being vulnerable does not make me weak – it only makes me wiser and stronger. Vulnerability gives opportunity to people to connect beyond what we express externally.

“I found the reinforcement of my belief that before or after our titles, we are humans, this is our first and most important role. Deep down, we are all aware of this aspect. However, I have always felt that due to our everyday pursuits, often these details are somehow forgotten. In Twill, I feel I have been brought back to the root values of genuine humanity – that is how we truly link with each other and this is what makes a business work.

Business is about people

“Business is, to the fullest degree, about people. You may think that reading this from a person that eats HR for breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner sounds commercial. But before being a Twiller, I have always had the impression that in this corporate business lifestyle, sometimes it is neglected that our professional approach is anchored with our humanity through the way we work, the way we collaborate, whether we take risks or not and how we react and behave. Every single day gives us insights, gives us learnings from every person we are surrounded with, action that we take and thought that we have.

“I’ve learned that HR does not equal making people happy. It is more about enabling and helping people to find their best assets and use them to enhance their career journey in a more valuable way that gives a sense of purpose.

“At Twill, I have reinforced my ideas that all our principles, perspectives and ideas can come ideas can be converted into reality. Indeed, there are many factors on this whole process of creating something meaningful. However, a large element is the vibe that people build in a company, when you have awesome people to work with, that challenge you and believe in the same values as you do. Most importantly, you must not only believe, but act. I am happy to work in a company where integrity is truly showed through behaviour.

Use your time wisely

“I have acknowledged now that a career is a journey about learning. What we do is our footprint, sometimes in all people’s life, sometimes in none but our own, sometimes in a few. But doing what you believe in and sticking to your values is always the right and best decision, taking ownership on our actions in any case. If it is a mistake, it is our own responsibility to absorb the learnings and repair what we did with a solution. If we achieve success, always celebrate. If it did not move the mountain, keep searching and trying to find a way to get that mountain shifted! All our actions are of high value even though they can look like a minor activity. Aiming for quality beats by far, quantity and I’ve learnt that is crucial to use time efficiently and in a very well thought out manner. This means prioritising and sometimes choosing your battles.

“Last, but not least, I have realised that our jobs (even though I have never liked this word) are so different, yet so similar. Why? Well, everything evolves when a business has a customer-centric mindset. If a Business Development Manager’s focus of service is the external customer, a developer’s activity revolves in building a reliable product so that the previous role can showcase the quality of the product.

“I see business like a round cycle, without end because every dot is significant and consequential. Each role contributes to overall success. Learning is a never-ending process. Learning is about seeking progress. Growth stays in taking risk to fail. Growth stays in learning.”

-Alina Croitoru, Twill Employee Experience Catalyst

A day in the life of our Customer Care team – Part 2

At Twill we are always working hard to deliver for our clients around the world. The shipping industry relies on thousands of different people doing many different jobs and each person and job is important in the chain – without one, none of the others can succeed. This couldn’t be more true than when it comes to our Customer Care team – they keep our entire operation ticking.

So how do they do it? We recently spoke to Javier Pedrajas from our Import Customer Care team about his day-to-day working. This week we spoke to Fitria Lestari who works in our Export Customer Care team in Indonesia to see how her working day compares:

7:30am – Arriving & carrying out checks

“I tend to arrive at the Twill office at around 7:30am each morning – so it’s an early start, but I quickly feel ready for the day and ready to help our customers with their export journeys, queries and everything in between!

“The first thing I do after settling down is to log-in to the Twill platform and check on the various shipments that are already on their journey and those bookings that have been made since I was last in the office. In the export team we work particularly closely with shippers and suppliers – so our relationship with them is really important.

“Given that we have worked with some of them a number of times, they have come to know us well – but there is always the chance that a new shipper or supplier will be working with us for the first time, so I try and approach them all the same way and help make their booking as simple and smooth as I can.”

11am – Idea generation & checking workload

“After I’ve made sure our customers are happy and any immediate issues have been resolved early in the morning, it’s then time for me to get together with my colleagues to discuss our workload and spot any pressures some of us may be under. At Twill we understand that we have offices in a number of countries and each of those countries might have their own processes and way of doing things (not to mention time differences!), so while we have a global Customer Care Huddle – more on this later – we often gather together internally within our own offices to catch up on workload.

“Before lunch, we will have our idea generation meeting – which is a really unique and exciting opportunity provided by Twill as part of our job. Held once a week, the idea generation meeting is our chance as the customer care team, to feedback any issues we have spotted with the Twill platform, or even better, input to any new improvements or changes we have spotted that could be made. Sometimes these changes come through conversations with shippers and suppliers – which means they feel as though they are being heard – and for us it shows that the leadership at Twill know that we can provide interesting insights as the people who work with the platform every day.”

2pm – Helping our customers

“After a break for lunch, I get back down to the day’s tasks. That will sometimes involve picking up new enquiries, confirming new bookings or generally liaising with our customers. It could also be reviewing and uploading documents like the Bill of Lading – which will be crucial for cargo to complete the various steps on its journey through ports and customs.

“We have in the past communicated with our customers via telephone or email – and this is still the case sometimes, especially when we need to provide an urgent update. However, at Twill we have technology on our side and we are continuing to push towards a more digitised world in which we can unburden our customers with unnecessary emails and calls. If I can provide our customer with a smooth and hassle-free service then that is great for our relationship with them. As we expand to new countries and add new features to our platform these relationships will really be important so I always take special care in these conversations.”

4pm – Customer Care Huddle

“As it is near the end of the day I will have dealt with a host of customers and hopefully helped them all in some way, big or small. It is around this time in the day that we have the ‘Customer Care Huddle’ which is when all the different Customer Care teams around the world gather to discuss their workload, any issues they have and it is generally a good way to ensure everyone feels part of a global team.

“We hold these three times a week and due to time differences they offer different opportunities for each country – for example in the Netherlands the meeting occurs in their morning, whereas for us it is at the end of the day, so where they are looking ahead it is more of an opportunity for us reflect on our recent work and perhaps give them a heads-up on any issues if necessary.”

5:30pm – End of the day

“I head home around 5:30pm after what has been a busy day. If I have helped my customers in their journey then it will have been a successful day and I can look ahead to providing that same level of service tomorrow!”

-Fitria Lestari, Twill Customer Care

A day in the life of our Customer Care team – Part 1

At Twill we are always working hard to deliver for our clients around the world. The shipping industry relies on thousands of different people doing many different jobs and each person and job is important in the chain – without one, none of the others can succeed. This couldn’t be truer than when it comes to our Customer Care team – they keep our entire operation ticking.

So how do they do it? We spoke to Javier Pedrajas from our import Customer Care team and found out what a usual day in the office entails for him:

Arriving & helping customers
9:00 am – “I get to work just before 9am and get myself settled for what is always a busy day – the Twill offices have amazing coffee; which always make the mornings easier!

“Where other jobs might ease into the day, we are straight to work because we have to check in with our colleagues in China, Vietnam and across Asia due to time differences. When we arrive at 9am it’s already 4pm in Shanghai and they’re nearing the end of the working day – so we have to make sure everything is going well for them and that if they have any issues we get them rectified as soon as possible. This is especially the case around busy periods such as Chinese New Year.”

Customer care huddle
10:00 am – “Three times a week at 10am we have our Customer Care Huddle – this is when everyone in the customer care team gathers together to discuss the day and week ahead and it’s a chance for us to see who has limited capacity and might need some support. Twill has a great environment for being able to talk and work together and this is a good example of that! Language barriers mean we can’t always help team members in dealing directly with customers – but we can help them with things like checking and updating ETAs (Estimated Time of Arrival) for shipments in transit to lighten their load.”

Tech check-in & assisting customers
11:00am – “Around mid-morning I’ll have my ‘tech check-in’ which is when I will get in touch with the tech support who provide the upkeep of our digital platform and review any tweaks, issues or changes that may need to be made to the platform. This isn’t always necessary, but at Twill we really want to deliver for our customers. So when I have a customer raise a difficulty or issue they’re having, I get a lot of joy out of fixing that for them – we always celebrate those small improvements here at Twill and I think that’s important.

“After our tech check-in, it’s back to helping our customers with their imports. We control shipments that have arrived, releasing them to go through customs and keeping them informed at all times with notifications on our platform and if it’s urgent then we will call them. We do this for all our customers, so there is some multi-tasking involved! But I find that a great challenge.”

Updating Twill platform & invoicing
2:00pm – “After a break for lunch, the afternoon at my desk is a mix of different jobs and tasks. I’ll continue to help our customers with their imports of course – this never really stops because we want to keep everything moving as smoothly as we can.

“Other than that, I will use the afternoon to go onto our digital platform and update the milestones for our customers – these show how cargo is progressing on its journey across the sea; then from the port and through customs. We are currently working on a smart milestone process, looking to atomize it from end-to-end, which will mean our customers are updated earlier on their shipments and we in the customer care team will be able to give more focus to urgent and rare cases that need more attention.

“The afternoon is also a chance for us to handle any admin tasks such as invoicing, or the ETA updates that I mentioned earlier. Equally, this might be when I look to give my colleagues some help if I have any time to spare.”

Idea generation meeting
4:00pm – “One of the more special things that we have at Twill, which is not something I have experienced at any other company, is an ‘idea generation meeting’ which is held every week. The purpose of this meeting is to gather the entire import customer care team and give us the opportunity to suggest changes and improvements that could be made to the Twill platform through our experiences with it.

“It’s this kind of start-up mentality that I always find exciting, being open and encouraging of change and making things better and smoother for our customers. It’s possible that we might even relay feedback or a suggested change that has been made by a customer – all ideas are welcomed no matter how small.”

5:30pm – “After a busy day, it’s off home to rest and relax before doing it again tomorrow. I’ve been at Twill since July last year – not long after it launched – and I love the modern, forward-thinking mind-set in the company and the way we can communicate with each other openly to bring the platform forward together!”

Javier Pedrajas – Twill Customer Care Ninja

We don’t know it is impossible

Twill is a story of innovation and growth. We aim to innovate the user experience of buying freight in order to make it as easy as buying a pair of shoes on Amazon. For industries not familiar with shipping, this may sound kind of unambitious, however for those working with shipping everyday this would sound like a figment of a child’s imagination.

It is indeed a tall order and it will take lots of new ideas and lots of energy to defy what is commonly understood to be ‘how we do things’.

An impossible task?

In a recent speech from our (Maersk) Chairman Jim Hagemann Snabe, he told a tale of the sun-powered flight “Solar Impulse 2”, which successfully circled the globe 100% powered by the sun.

To succeed in this task the plane itself had to have a massive surface and at the same time be super lightweight. When talking to engineers in the aviation industry this task was defined as impossible. Not accepting this answer, Bertrand Piccard reached out to the sailboat building industry – and the rest is history.

The plane was built and it succeeded on its mission of circling the globe. When Piccard was asked why the engineers of the sail-boat industry succeeded on a task that the aviation engineers had deemed impossible, he answered (very simple actually) that the engineers from the sailboat industry did not know it was impossible – they had never tried it before.

That is how I see Twill. We don’t know it is impossible and therefore we will succeed.

Keep focused every single day

I feel very lucky to work in a company where our focus is innovation and growth.

Every day we try to make it just one tad simpler for the customer to buy freight online, and keeping this mentality coupled with a portion of energy and not knowing what is impossible – who knows where we can take Twill. That is for me an amazing thought and the sole motivation to make sure we do a great job.

The pace of development

Lately, I read a piece by Warren Buffet on the topic of Optimism in TIME magazine.

He says: “I was born in 1930, when the symbol of American wealth was John D. Rockefeller Sr. Today my upper-middle-class neighbors enjoy options in travel, entertainment, medicine and education that were simply not available to Rockefeller and his family… Two words explain this miracle: Innovation and productivity.”

This comment made me stop in awe. He writes about the development from 1930 until now, which is an astonishing development, but I truly believe that when I sit in 2050 and look back from 1985 (my birth year) the development will have been even greater. Our globe will be wealthier, safer and more equal.

I’ve no doubt that enabling no-fuss, one-click, available to all international trade will have a massive role to play in this development – and I am proud and honored to know that the innovation we are part of in Twill could actually make a difference. This is innovation that matters!

The future of freight forwarding

Taking a slightly shorter term view, I would say that in just five years from now, the concept of freight forwarding will already be forgotten.

Instead of the industry demanding that the customer must know what ANS, VGM and HBL stand for, as well as knowing enough about geography to get an A+ in university, thanks to innovation a customer will just click ‘please deliver’ and get back to her real work of creating value for her customers.

Shipping Made Simple.

-Troels Stovring, Twill CEO

Forecasting Shipments: Why you need to do it and how you can do it better!

Forecasting your shipments may not immediately spring to mind as the most crucial part of your cargo’s journey, after all it isn’t as tangible as the vessel or cargo itself! However, without good forecasting, you could be left with cargo and no vessel to put it on – or vice versa. So accurate forecasting is actually a lot more influential than it may seem. 

Why do I need to forecast?

There are a number of reasons why forecasting is so important – some very obvious and others not so:

  • More time means less stress – One key benefit of good forecasting is that it will simply make your life easier. And not just that, it will make life much better for your suppliers, your warehouse teams, the ship liners you use, and others who support you – like us at Twill – because they will be able to plan and prepare for your needs.
  • Keep your customers happy – The best way to keep your customers happy is giving them the product they want when they want it. Forecasting the demand you expect for your product means you can ensure that the right products always have the right stock levels.
  • Cost-efficiency – There are a number of ways in which good forecasting can improve your cost-efficiency. For example, by identifying stock that is not selling, or is obsolete, you can remove it from your warehouses and future planning. This brings the cost for keeping these products down. Forecasting your shipments in advance will also allow you to secure better rates – instead of urgently booking shipments and potentially having to pay significantly more. Once again saving costs for you.

How do I forecast better?

So now you know why forecasting is so essential – how do you could you make sure you are doing it right? And how can you do it better?

  • Give yourself time – Time is your greatest friend in this business, so give yourself as much as you can. At Twill we always look to help our customers if they have to make an urgent shipment but ultimately we get the best rates and deliver the best service when we know about your needs well in advance.
  • Be aware of peak periods – It is important in your forecasting to understand the peak periods when rates or demand may be subsequent to change – these include dates such as Chinese New Year and Christmas, but there may be others – so build them into your work. 
  • Use data – Forecasting can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet – but when utilised well it can give great insights into your customers’ needs or trends within your products. Use all the data you have available to you to inform your forecasting and help make insightful decisions.
  • Use the right type of forecasting – In the context of a supply chain there are a few key types of forecasting: Demand, Supply and Price. It’s important to see how each could benefit you. Demand forecasting, for example, will help you see which of your products is in demand currently and looking ahead. Supply forecasting, however, will help in understanding the trends around you (technological, political etc.) that may affect supply. Price forecasting is based on data gathered on both demand and supply – which then provides a prediction of short and long term prices and can give you insight into the reasons for those trends.

Forecasting has the potential not just to make your life easier, but if done correctly, it could help you make serious savings and increase your revenue by helping you spot trends and generally understand your market better. It may take some time to get your forecasting established – but the potential benefits are certainly worth the work.

-Lina Hu, Twill Customer Care