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Shippers demand more data.

Shippers gave the airfreight industry an earful regarding its slow progress on digitizing its processes, poor customer service and its reluctance to provide adequate data about shipments at IATA's four-day World Cargo Symposium in Shanghai, China, last month.

Joost Van Doesburg, of the European Shipper's Council, said the industry should try harder to satisfy its younger customers and embrace digital technology.

"I represent your customer and, I must say, your customer is not really happy with your industry," he said. "We need to invest in people who can create what shippers are asking for. We need to support more IT people, instead of investing in another salesperson."

Robert Mellin, head of distribution logistics at electronics company Ericsson, was particularly vocal about the need for more data within the airfreight process. Mellin described how more information and data should be passed on to shippers. This data should not just be about pickup/delivery times, but also, for example, data "on when things go wrong." Presumably, this would include more substantive geo-tracking data.

Airfreight "is so old-fashioned," Mellin said, adding that "everyone knows what the problem is."

The "problem" is not solved just with electronic air waybills (e-AWB), he added. Rather, the entire airfreight system needs to be wrapped in greater data and information transmission.

If it is, the satisfaction levels with airfreight among shippers will climb above the current level of 7.08 on a scale of 1 to 10, as per IATA's recent survey of shippers.

Mellin also called for the creation of one common airfreight data cloud, within the next 12 to 18 months, for all parties to access--and leverage. "If we get the solution in place ... you will take out cost, and I, as a shipper, am interested in investing in this," he said. "It would save billions of trees, give us faster speed, better execution and better lead times."

Ericsson, which has annual sales of about US$35 billion, spent around $264 million to ship approximately 80,000 tonnes of airfreight to more than 160 destinations last year, but only for products for which express delivery was absolutely essential. In fact, Mellin added, the 2014 airfreight figures for Ericsson were reduced "quite drastically," compared to other years, and will continue to drop rapidly unless customer service improves.

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Title Annotation:Asia News
Author:Hornblass, J.J.; Woods, Randy
Publication:Air Cargo World, International ed.
Date:Apr 1, 2015
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