As ‘digital’ forwarders grow in number with their offers of quicker and more efficient logistics solutions, London-based start-up freight forwarder FSC Oceans’ Commercial Director Alan Hewitt addresses this potential ‘disruptor’ in the market head on.
Located on Fulham High Street and employing seven logistics veterans with more than 100 years’ worth of experience in the sector between them, FSC Oceans launched earlier this year and has already turned over more than £1.4m. The business adheres to the traditional freight forwarding model, with the team managing freight transport solutions brought in by its salespeople.
Alan said: ‘Our industry is becoming accustomed to news of new digital forwarders promising to transform and disrupt the traditional forwarding methods and in reply, logistics professionals like our team at FSC Oceans are developing technology in house to ensure we are providing a competitive edge for our customers.
‘Based on the current trends, digitalisation for freight forwarding will be in good shape by 2030, however in the interim the larger global freight forwarders are competing for this space. We at FSC Oceans are focusing on what customers want today. This also doesn’t mean we are technology free. Our tech solutions are delivered through a network of talented and cutting-edge technology partners, designed with or for customers.’
FSC Oceans’ primary business at the moment is handling ocean, air and road freight shipments by creating and nurturing direct relationships with all the major service providers. It specialises in a broad range of sectors including automotive, FMCG, industrial, oil & gas, high tech, retail, drinks logistics and marine logistics.
Led by Managing Director Shatha Aziz who heads up the team of logistics experts, the business’s goal is to hit the £10m turnover milestone within just a few years.
Moving to the UK from Iraq in 2016, Shatha brought with her 15 years’ experience providing multinational businesses with bespoke logistics solutions. She’d already consulted her network in the UK and decided there was a gap in the market for a new start-up, so set about recruiting her team to launch FSC Oceans.
Alan, who joined the company in November and previously worked with RH Freight and then with Kuehne+Nagel when it acquired the company in 2011, added: ‘There aren’t many start-ups in forwarding but we believe there is a real area of weakness with forwarders in general and in what they offer their customers.
‘Customers are looking for an extension of their business, not a service provider that will give them a price and no accountability. A lot of what we do is automated, but our customers still need a person at the other end of the phone. It is not just a transactional approach. We want to help customers and go deeper in the supply chain to uncover real value, because without value our customers relationships won’t last long.
‘Technology is certainly important in our sector – but people are more important. People can react in a way that computers can not, for example if a snow storm hits and plans need to change. Knowledge, expertise and experience of managing lots of different requirements at once, while building in contingency for the unexpected, is vital to our promise of exceptional customer service. And while digital forwarders are making big promises, in relation to the offer from well-established players in the sector it is still early days and I predict it will be a long time before they can compete on capacity, personnel, global coverage or price.’