Podcast: The Intersection of Customer Experience and Technology with Eric Ritchey

In this episode, Eric Ritchey, Director of Operations and Business Development at Panda Logistics, joins Host Brian Glick, CEO of Chain.io, to discuss Eric's journey in the logistics industry and lessons learned along the way.

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Chain.io supply chain connections podcast, with Eric Ritchey of Panda Logistics

In this episode, Eric Ritchey, Director of Operations and Business Development at Panda Logistics, joins Host Brian Glick, CEO of Chain.io, to discuss:

  • How Eric got started in international trade and logistics
  • The role of a freight forwarder and how it’s evolved
  • Obstacles forwarders face in international shipping
  • The motivation for creating a tracking portal
  • Tips to run an efficient and effective logistics business

Eric works as the Director of Operations and Business Development at Panda Logistics, a logistics operator providing a full range of service in transportation and customs clearance worldwide, for any type of cargo.

Tune In!


Episode Transcript

Brian Glick 00:03

Welcome to supply chain connections. I'm Brian Glick, founder and CEO at Chain.io. In this episode, we have Eric Ritchey. Eric is the Director of Operations and Business Development at Panda logistics. Eric has a real passion for the intersection between the customer experience of the technology as a freight forwarder. And the real operational, nitty gritty of getting freight moved. And so if you're interested in where tech is going and what a real forwarder thinks about what isn't being serviced by the technology companies that are out there, this is the episode for you. So without further ado, here's the interview.

Brian Glick 00:49

Eric, welcome to the show.

Eric Ritchey 00:50

Thank you, Brian, for having me.

Brian Glick 00:51

So tell me a little bit about Panda and how you ended up in the industry. Yeah,

Eric Ritchey 00:57

So actually, about three and a half years ago, one of my mentors here, Paul, gave me a call to come on to Panda Logistics USA and helprevamp the whole USA side of things. I guess for Panda on that piece there. The one thing that you will hear from Panda USA, we are fairly small on the USA side. But we have a pretty large footprint around the world. So the big thing that you will hear is the animal names. So our headquarters it's panda logistics, they're based out of Taiwan there but all the different animal names of other companies you will hear are sister and daughter company's there. So you've got dolphin whale logistics, Penguin, Pegasus world Jaguar Falcon, the list goes on and on. FM Global, I always joke that they're the black sheep just because they chose a non animal name. They're still fantastic and a great sister company partner of ours. But that's kind of the background of Panda. We've pretty much all around the world on that piece.

Brian Glick 01:51

What's your favorite name? I'm gonna put you in a spot here. Tough questions. First, obviously

Eric Ritchey 01:57

Panda logistics. Do I actually really like real Jaguar on the side? That was a cool thing than joking around with creating a new Panther logistics. And so I love the whole animal theme. It's great. Because even when we're working with our companies, we see the animal name, we instantly know, at least in the NGO world, there is a 99% chance they are connected to us. Every case I've come across, so

Brian Glick 02:22

stay away from snails and sloths.

Eric Ritchey 02:26

Yeah, those are not on the list of potential

Brian Glick 02:29

So what about you personally? How did you choose this of all industries?

Eric Ritchey 02:35

If you're going to start back in the beginning, I think the core piece there is I've always had an interest in international culture and languages. And it's just International and trade. I've always liked the business side of things. Some of my first few jobs were the sales of pieces there. But actually what got me into it originally is I actually joined the military back in when I think I was 2122 years old. And I spent the next four years of my life learning Mandarin from the military. So they actually sent me two defense languages to teach me Chinese for two years straight. So it was one of those intensive courses of seven hours a day, three hours of homework a day, 40 vocab word tests every single morning on different pieces there, which was amazing. So I did that. And then I spent the next couple years doing some work and translation work. It's pretty much a translation gig for the military before I went reserves and went on the outside there. So that Mandarin piece is definitely what pushed me as soon as I got out, I wanted to use it, I wanted to utilize it. And I had some interest in logistics already, some friends and family that were working in the domestic side of logistics, on LTL FTL. And I just had an interest in diving into the international piece of that. So I went hunting in a failed company that would help me learn all that.

Brian Glick 04:01

What do you think of your kind of journey through this? Like how much of a leg up has that been? Because most of us just sort of assume that everyone else is going to convert to English when it comes to international trade? Because that's how the bills of lading are written. Right? So how has that affected you? It's been major.

Eric Ritchey 04:19

So I'd say a few areas. So number one, just the connections I've been able to make here in the USA. For example, one of my main mentors was the first job and the first logistics real job that I took. One of my mentors was Taiwanese and he spoke great English. Brent lived here for years and years, but we immediately connected on that piece. This is a couple years right after school so I was very aggressive with wanting to use my Mandarin whenever possible. So I got to say help to build a relationship with Paul, my mentor and if you recognise the name, this is the same Paul from my first job that called me to come on to handle logistics now. That connection wouldn't be there was great. And then obviously the connections with everyone overseas, specifically China and Taiwan there, I do notice it is a recurring theme even when I'm working with our Singapore agents, some occasionally in Vietnam and other areas throughout Asia. If they don't speak English well, chances are they probably also speak Mandarin. So it is a very popular language there. But right off the bat that leg up that you asked about because I was on the sales, I started in a sales role. Luckily, I found a company where I took a huge pay cut, but I came on and I was like, I just want to, you know, Chateau, every department import ops, export customs, trucking, dispatch, accounting for a minimum of two to three weeks each, before I dive into the sales, and they allowed me to do that. And so I was able to learn all the different pieces of the industry before diving into a fresh sales role as a brand new person into the logistics industry. And then once I had that knowledge and utilized Mandarin, and like I said, it was at that time, I was very much trying to use Mandarin 100% of the time, if I could have taken the time. So I actually did learn to speak Mandarin and read a little bit, but mostly I could type it out using Pinyon. So I could type out so obviously using WeChat with our overseas or at least our China and Taiwanese agents. But that's the leg up that I think it gave me as I immediately built great relationships with them. Obviously, I'm trying to find customers here. But the relationships I've built with all those agents immediately gave me that leg up where Hey, they've got this, you know, American fluence speaking English person who they can really communicate with. So we get referrals from those agents, or that could really use the Mandarin and push them for extra negotiations and better pricing there.

Brian Glick 06:58

So you just touched on something else. That's interesting. I think it'll segue us into a little bit of a conversation about tech also. But you mentioned going in and you know, even though you didn't say grow up inside the industry, learning all the jobs, right and touching the things and one of the things that I work with, with our sales team and chain is that people in this industry want to buy from people who have done the work or at least who can empathize and understand the work. Yeah, there are others who take the view that, you know, sales is sales, and that it doesn't matter what you're selling, and, you know, sell me this pen, and you know, as the old cliche, right, you should be able to sell anything kind of where do you fall on that riff on that a little bit for me? Yeah. So that's

Eric Ritchey 07:44

a great question. And so the big piece, so number one, you hit the idea of learning all the areas. So that was the first interest that I had . What are the main obstacles importing, you know, for example, and I was trying to come at it at the idea of friends that were talking about starting some import company, a doing thing. So I was coming out with the idea and the perspective from fresh eyes, what are the main obstacles you're going to run into, you know, HTS codes, and the different pieces of duty? And what to expect? What's the chances of a customs exam? What do you need to have in place, you know, bonds and power of attorney, you know, first diving into and learning those different pieces there. I can say in part of this piece, and I think related to this question is, I noticed I learned that fairly well and got pretty confident in that area over the first you know, three to six months. But as a fast learner, I love to geek out on topics and become obsessed with topics. But I realized, you know, eight, nine years ago that these e-commerce sellers, Amazon sellers, were constantly reaching out to me, you know, I'd find these new guys where they had no idea how to dive into the world of being an importer of record and the world of international freight. So that is one area I really decided to specialize in initially. That's what took me in this area. So one thing I very much enjoyed, and I've got some long, longtime customers was working with these new sellers. And obviously, I'd go for the big customers as well. But these new customers were a great learning area for me, but of learning how to teach these customers on how do you become an importer? What are the things that you need to have in place? How to vet your HTS code? Is this a product that's going to be subject to FDA, making sure to confirm that your supplier is FDA registered? Making sure your company has a lot of little tricks you can do. A good little analogy of like an HTS code analogy that I like, is simply when you're bringing in a product. There are so many different ways to save on duty. The broker's job is to make sure that you're selecting the most accurate It HTS code for that product, however, say you're bringing in a table. Okay, first of all, is this a plastic table or a wood table? Okay, say it's a wood table is this table? So now you've got the product, what it's made out of, but what is it going to be used for? Is this going to be a dining room table that we're going to eat on? Or is this going to be a conference room table that can be used for office and business, just that analogy there can give you the description of the use can completely change what the product is. And what the code is going to be used for is this, you know, a desk or a table, they can be the exact same product, but that use can change the HTS code, and can vary how much duty you're going to pay. So there is one accurate thing but getting the full details of what it's going to be is to find out that HTS code there, but going through the process of teaching the customers I loved that it really helps me specialize in that area there in the beginning,

Brian Glick 10:57

you're talking to a fellow customs nerd, we're gonna have to call this hot hot tariff summer because I don't know what the order of the airing of these episodes will be yet. But either right before or after you. I'm talking with Amy Morgan from Altana, who's also just a massive automated AI based classification nerd. Apparently, we're soon to spend this summer on the chain IO podcast talking about my favorite topic in the world, which is tariff cuts. We'll spare the audience that deep dive, I'll just share that I once had this that there were an entire hour of managers meeting at a broker that I worked for where the primary topic was the difference between loungewear and pajamas, and so passionately into your court, that educated importer on the use of their product is a massively important thing.

Eric Ritchey 11:50

It really is. Actually, you're gonna have to introduce me to Aimia that you're talking to AI on determinate HS code. That's right up my alley. Well,

Brian Glick 11:59

So you know, you've got a real passion for tech. Yes. Yeah. You know, how do you use that in your job,

Eric Ritchey 12:05

actually, and thank you. For me, back to that. That is one piece. And you talked about what got me into this industry. When I was looking at it, I remember seeing, especially when I was at that first company was the shock that hit of where this was a very traditional old school industry where I remember I was trying to get them to go on to, you know, office 365 move to a cloud based email server instead of this dedicated server room. It was pulling teeth just to get them to consider it, one of our managers, the owner, would not even consider it, didn't want to change, didn't want to make that switch. A good example of why I always give up this traditional industry that we're in, we still have many freight people out here, they've probably heard the term Telex. In the industry, we use a telex release. I don't know if other people don't know telex was before the fax machine. Currently, it's no longer being telex, it is being submitted an email or is it just submitted to a system, there is no Telex. But that analogy is a good example of how traditional and old school this industry is, we're still using the term before the fax machine. It's just a great example to show. That's what got me excited as wow, like this is the oldest, so many problems to deal with. But there's so much growth, there's so many new tools coming out

Brian Glick 13:28

every day. Just to give you an A sense of appreciation that everything runs in cycles, I get about a 15 year headstart on you, I think from just looking at your LinkedIn profile. And, you know, my first day at the first broker that I work for, you know, the conversation I was having was, you know, if we replace these green screens with PCs, we could get attachments on the emails. And if we could get attachments on the emails, you wouldn't have to send these three banker's boxes of files over airborne Express every night back to our customer in Europe, we could just email them those files, and people were like, That's not a thing that's never gonna happen. It's the same cycle sort of run generationally.

Eric Ritchey 14:17

And talking about files, as I remember from my import ops team, switching to a cloud based TMS that can be used from anywhere with having one drive or having all your files uploaded into TMS. We actually recently switched to go freight and they've been great. But just any cloud based TMS of doing that. You're talking about files. I don't know if you've seen the import operations person where they have their files, their folders sitting next to them in the order of operation of how to process we're printing everything. I'm still got a couple operations that just won't pull away from that and it's okay for now, as we're implementing these tools, but I finally have got about 90% of our team You were they fully switched away from the printing every single page and the file system. And they're using cloud based or uploading it to the TMS and you have everything in there. And it's serving the same purpose. I mean, that's a small, small example of, you know, the changes with tech that you can make here.

Brian Glick 15:17

It's a huge thing, though. I mean, I remember those vertical files on everyone's desk, that was a standard issue. And, I mean, do you think that going through the lock downs, like helped you with that? Or was it kind of already happening or, you know, where, where people had to work remote.

Eric Ritchey 15:33

So I was already working on it before that with a company. And that's where, you know, Paul, when he brought me on, he had the same exact, you know, idea, he actually is an ex computer programmer, they use your phone or computer programming company. So he was all game for making these tech changes being as efficient as possible, and utilizing that, that said, there's so many different pieces to this tech side. So the biggest area that I can see is, number one, obviously, remote workers, you've got to switch, you know, everyone knows this. Everyone who went through COVID understands that, you've got to get used to virtual calls, virtual meetings, a way for someone to submit their documents versus handing it over. So you had a move with that the biggest change that I've seen, though, is I knew before that having a tracking portal, having these things were the biggest service of value that was missing, you know, for a importer, for anyone that was moving freight, they hire a freight forwarder, the endless idea of trying to get the status of that, yeah, you can go into the carrier website and maybe get a status of that container. But what's the status of the release? What's the status of the pickup, those were unavailable, it was completely missing. So we started working with a company quick, and they were later purchased by McGaha. And that helped us build a tracking portal. We're working on some other pieces on our own to help take this even further. But the idea is, is that value of having the check the status and have their there is a lot of opportunity there to help and provide that service to customers to not just have to call your forwarder every single time and pray they answer the science, right? You get someone that you know, speaks English and can help and really answer your questions. Or you're sending an email to some overseas agent that's going to help you get that status there. So the biggest piece answer your question is I saw the industry make this switch when COVID happened, where now everybody understands that need? Have, you need the tracking, you need to have the visibility, all the issues that created you need that status there. So what's great is now there's a tonne of options for software and tech companies creating and trying to fill these gaps. There's new problems that come along with that, though.

Brian Glick 17:55

Well, so let's talk about one of those because one of the things that I hear a lot from my customers that sort of sit in your seat of making that decision about where to invest is that there's not we went from having no tech to too much tech. Right. And so, you know, you've chosen and you know, I am very familiar with go freight and with quick and what's now mkhaya, you know, these are tools that are actually very well tuned to the style of customer that you sell to right, they may not necessarily be the best tools, if your whole thing was selling, you know, you're going to do you know, 50,000 containers a year for you know, these largest customers, and it's all Adi and they don't need the portal. And so, like how have you gone about with your team figuring out what to buy?

Eric Ritchey 18:43

Yeah, I can tell you know exactly what I'm going through here. So that's where you've got, we've been struggling, there's the idea of the shiny new software that looks great, works great. Maybe it does work great. But the other vets that I constantly doing is which companies are really going to grow. And I've learned over the years to is betting those companies to see who and especially once you even sign or you get going is finding out and watching very closely for those first few months to see, are they making those changes? Are they growing? Because the point is right now, I'll just no one has a perfect product. Nobody has a product that's bound all these issues. One thing I'd say just the day to day of our job is things will go wrong and logistics, you were talking about software, things will go wrong, there will be that unpredictable thing. If things didn't go wrong, I wouldn't have a job. This would be easy to be a freight forwarder. Our job is to manage all these different pieces from the origin to the destination or managing, you know, not eight to 10 Different companies from the trucker a customs broker OSHA three customs broker here Other trucker, maybe your warehouse, maybe the distribution truckers are using. So there's all these different pieces. Yeah, we might own some assets, not too many. But some forwarders might own a lot, some forwarders. But in the end, the job of a freight forwarder definitely has evolved a bit, you can focus in on that NVOCC ocean freight, but it has evolved to where your freight management company in trying to provide that service. That's my big goal is, you know, trying to show customers where we can be their logistics department. So you kind of mentioned there, you know, the idea of, you've got some customers where you're focusing in on those individual levels, where you know, there are smaller importer, maybe small to medium size, they're running that, you know, one to 50 shipments a month. But once you're approaching that 50 shipments a month, you're not wanting to you know, for example, go into the system and book, every single individual 50 shipments, you want to confirm a rate period. So that's something we're working on, as well as building some new software to confirm that rate period at finding those issues. The other thing is, you're not going to want to go in and track every single shipment. But having that so you know, obviously, automated Excel, that's an easy solution, if you've got a tracking terminal 49 has been an amazing resource lately for us. I've just been blown away, there's you know, we've got some new carriers that there's sometimes missing, but they react pretty quickly to the changes, but it provides us great tracking data from carriers and ports and terminals that we can pull in utilise internally and provide that service to those customers there. In the end, though, the the pieces is you've got certain software's that are great, they work good standalone, but then trying to get them to work with our CRM with our accounting with our TMS, for that flow to work. And then to display all that information to customers has been challenging

Brian Glick 22:02

history, if only there was some supply chain integration company that for a living

Eric Ritchey 22:09

from your side, as you guys, you're trying to connect the dots between these but then one company like they're motivated, they're great. And the problem is, is they all need to grow. So you need to have tools, all the software companies that you've connected to, that are also willing to grow. Because like I said, it's logistics, there will be problems we have not everyone just discovered, you know, just discovered the need for all of these things a few years ago with COVID. Like, finally, everybody is on board for improving the industry. But we have a long ways to go that to get there. Yeah, well, that pizza,

Brian Glick 22:47

what problem do you wish someone was solving that nobody's solving for you today?

Eric Ritchey 22:53

I mean, really what I wish someone is solving and this is a hard ask is on the whole picture. And that's that piece providing that value to customers to where they can get the whole picture with quoting with tracking with being confident on the service. But having that connected fully to ATMs that is geared for us. And that's all just target us personally, is geared towards our primary business of NVOCC, or freight forwarder. And on that area there, I've seen pieces of that have seen people attempt pieces of that. And they'll be great on the warehouse, or maybe from an importer point of view. But from our freight forwarding side point of view, I found little connections and little pieces. And that's where I have to, you know, talk with you guys a little bit of trying to make these connections between a company that's doing great there. Honestly, though, what I can say the biggest problem that I'm running into now is all of these software's are unfinished. I mean, I have the vision, or I have the idea in my head of for our industry for freight forwarding of how exactly these need to work. And so the problem is, what I'm seeing is some of them are great. And you're great when you're using the point is is they can move quickly. It is a now, I know that a lot of the software companies out there will see this and say this that are focusing on the logistics world. It's a race, it's a race right now to see who can really create it and who can really get it done. And the problem I see is they're running into that business model mindset of we only can grow when we're in the green, but we have to make money to use that money to put it towards developments or whatever it is. Or maybe we get some investors and we've spent that money. And we got to show the investors now we are making money on what we spent. The problem is is it's not something you can just fix in one year. This is something that you're going to need to spend three to five years and some companies started, you know, three, five years ago, but the problem is I saw a slowdown and that's where Really want to light a fire under people like this is the time like take advantage, keep it moving, don't get excited, because you just made some one little piece of the product and you could sell it and you're making a tonne of money, finish it, finish the product, finish that whole working picture, because that's really the huge value that we will do as freight forwarders. But that value will trickle down to all the importers.

Brian Glick 25:24

And I think that leads to this really interesting question of whose responsibility is it to finish the puzzle, right, because there's a few amongst some software companies and a lot of software investors that their job is to sell a very targeted thing, that different company, and then the job of the freight forwarder is to assemble those Legos into something unique. Yeah, and there's others who, you know, say, No, our job is to sell you one piece of software, and it is the only piece of software you will ever need. And you know, like this is the you know, the cargowise model as example, right, which is they will come in and say, use this one thing, and it is our responsibility to put all the pieces together. And so there's push and pull of, you know, sort of best in class versus best of breed, I think is the kind of cliche consultant term for it. And it sounds like you want a little bit of both there, right? You want very good targeted software, but you want it all to be a little more robust so that you can get it together. Is that fair?

Eric Ritchey 26:31

To say that and to answer in my mind, this is the software developer, this is your responsibility to get this done. That's it to get this done, right. You need somebody like me, maybe someone like you, and I can tell from you know, from your experience and background to that worked in this industry that knows and sees not just the rate puzzle, and then please don't stop. That's what I'm seeing with the software's like, just don't stop, keep that momentum going, don't stop once you've made some profits, and you're you know, you've got a product that sells we need to finish that bowl picture there. So for that puzzle, honestly, what I've kind of realised that we're I'm doing it, I'm trying to take this into my own hands. Find guys like me, that are in the industry that are dealing with it, we're trying to build some other tools to fill some of the gap that we're finding. And honestly, the kind of the, you know, the call to action for companies, I'm using other companies that I've been talking to and betting, like, you've got six months to a year to step it up. Otherwise, I'm gonna do this on my own.

Brian Glick 27:42

That's the for all of you software companies listening, there's your your shot across the bow. So time to get moving, I guess.

Eric Ritchey 27:51

They're all doing great. There's great things, but don't stop that momentum. This is a constant thing. No one's perfect yet at this. So we really got to, we just got to keep going. I can I mean, it's we're not far off. We're one to three years away from a product that does cover all those areas, at least from my side and from the importers that I'm working with.

Brian Glick 28:10

So we got time for about one more topic. I'm just gonna put this out there for you do what you want with it. But just what is the thing I'm most excited about in the industry?

Eric Ritchey 28:20

I mean, couple things. So obviously, AI is a great one. But it's an amazing one optimization with that. So I mean, that simple tool of just seeing on the AI, so I would say on the AI and connecting AI and API connections. So the idea of being able to utilise some of the best tools out there with a simple API hub, you know, through you through Zapier, through, you know, all these tools, Zapier is much smaller level but there's it's not difficult anymore to even set up our own API connection in some areas, hence, so the main area that I'm excited about is being able to utilise all those AI is a great one, just OCR a simple and OCR PDF. AI technology is outstanding the idea of where they were receiving 10s of 1000s of documents every month or maybe week on these documents here. Those can be all automated and digitised into a format. You can just save a lot of time and make us much more efficient. People have talked about you know, like the idea of that's going to take away people's jobs. But the idea is, is right now we have gone into a downturn, the amount of international freight moving the world around the world has taken a huge dive over the last six to 12 months here. So the point is is for freight forwarders. We've moved out of that stage where there was all these logistical problems. So because there's logistical problems we were able to charge more for our service because we had more problems to deal with. We had more business we knew what to do. We deal with because there's problems happening. But the problem is there's we got a little spoiled with that, and other foreigners did to where now it's back to where we were three, five years ago, where it is a price competitive market, you got to run the efficient and effective. So the business freight forwarding world, we will make a lot of money, it's you make a small little percentage on every single shipment, you make a small percentage on every service within that shipment that you make. So the idea is, is we're going to be as effective as possible, I can tell you on our first one to three shipments for a customer, we lose money, all the time that me and my team that everyone has to put in, we've spent every dime of profit we've made, and we've lost. So we make money off long term relationships. So being as effective as possible, and utilising that AI to make it so you're quick, your team is efficient, they're able to run more, they have a better life, they're not having to do the monotonous work of you know, plugging in data, they're actually able to spend their time solving problems where if you're in logistics, you know, the only way you like to do logistics, if you like to solve problems. So yes. People will geek out on that piece there.

Brian Glick 31:16

Yeah. So I mean, you know, and just to that point of losing money, I mean, I didn't know about things like customer acquisition cost payback periods, when I was a broker, I know them now that I'm in the software industry. And that's much more common terminology. But I would imagine, the brokers that I've worked for in my career, very high end, high touch, we often would if you really looked at it probably had a year CAC payback on some of these customers, because we would spend years building relationships. And if you really took all of that investment, you've got to make sure that you deliver service. Yeah, whether it's good times or bad. Because if you're going to spend a year's worth of investment to get someone and you're going to make a tonne of money for the 19 years that follow that first year, you better not lose them in that first year. Exactly.

Eric Ritchey 32:04

That's a great way to you know, to kind of end our conversation here a little bit is that topic of customer retention, that's the whole thing that I'm all in on. That's what I love about this industry. Like I mentioned, you know, what my early 20s Before you know, teens, I did a lot of I did the sales, but nothing is worse than selling a product you don't believe. And for every freight forwarder out there, the service is a lacking area. But that said, look, we've that's been my whole focus, we've got a track in the portal, we've gotten a great admin account management team, you know, focusing on that, but to build that customer retention, build that faith in, hey, this is a service, not just for us, but that's where I see the huge opportunity on the software side. It's like guys, whoever can do this as such a huge opportunity. And then obviously the first freight forwarders to take on benefits as well. But building that faith and customers where they can hire you as your logistics department, they've got all the data they ever need, they have visibility so they can trust that you're not ripping them off. It's unfortunately for it does happen in this industry, where you get taken advantage freight forwarder makes a mistake and they hide it. That's the piece there. I love what our portal does now where we you know, it shows it so that way customers can see if we clear customers late, you can see that it was our fault. So you could see those pieces, but

Brian Glick 33:31

now that customer retention thing and and you're right that, you know there's the software needs to be there. But also I think forwarders and brokers in the light need to really rethink what they mean by that. Or there's an opportunity to evolve past just thinking about everything as like responding to an RFQ or the other side of it, which is Am I ready for the QPR? Right like it's anything you never think about it. Q And then like every three months you have the QBR if it's a big customer, but you don't think about holistic customer service for like those 85 days in between and that's a you know, you're right I don't think there's a lot of software in the industry yet that has really kind of captured a holistic view of your relationship with the customer versus rates right rates is only a very small piece of that

Eric Ritchey 34:30

that's that's actually a really really good point there the idea of what action look at this conversation you're spiking just a new little the idea of customers freight forwarders we used to have the idea of it was fast I don't know if you've ever dealt with colours any like they just respond. They don't care about the service but the point was is they couldn't because the profit was low. The profit was so low and that you know it's very low especially previous with very low there wasn't problems everyone was fighting over. 10 $20 here and they're going, switching this cup board order has a container at $15 less, they leave you, right? That was the industry working before. And but the point there is it kind of hit on a key thing where now we're finally switching to an industry where we've maybe got the the tools, the technology out there, we've got some of that AI out there to help make us more efficient. So that way we can focus in and spend our time as freight forwarders as the freight management service and being there for the customers to ask their questions, deal with the problems that provide that excellent customer service that they're really wanting. Because most customers, they're willing to pay a little bit more for you to deal with the problems for them. So they can focus on growing their company. And if they grow, we can grow. And if they grow, and then we can have a bike or a service, then they're gonna stay with us. And like we said, we lose money for the first three to six months maybe to depending on the customer and what Lane we're running. And if we can keep them for the next 19 years. And they're relying on us to help for all their logistical needs. That's the end goal. But it's cool, because it is a great point. I don't think the freight forwarding industry could have done that previously. But with the new technology and connections being made and bringing in that puzzle, now it can maybe switch gears to focus on that side.

Brian Glick 36:27

Awesome. Well, I think that's an awesome place for us to wrap as a really good time for the conversation. So thank you, again, so much for being here. And, you know, look forward to maybe getting you back in the future is I have a feeling you and I have a whole different conversation in six months about how everybody's done yet to catch up. So. So again, thanks for being here.

Eric Ritchey 36:45

Of course. Thank you for having me, Brian. And yeah, like I said, I'm excited to see where things are at 612 months from now. Awesome. All right.

Brian Glick 36:55

Thanks so much, Eric, for what was an awesome interview. As you can all tell, we could have gone for probably three or four hours there between the two of us. And I think we just scratched the surface.

Again, to summarize, I think the takeaway that I had there was that we as software providers, all of us have to make sure that we're really keeping an eye on what the customers really need. And not just the freight forwarders, but also their customers, the shippers. So again, thanks so much Eric for for bringing his view to that.

In general Chain.io news. Please make sure to check out the blog, especially if to other software companies out there that maybe have wanted to work with us in the past and haven't had the opportunity or new Open Connect platform that lets you build your own connections to our API's is really getting a lot of traction and we're really excited about that. And to everyone else. Tons of industry news out there and I will look forward to talking to you all next time on Supply Chain Connections.

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written on August 2, 2023
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