It’s a match made in heaven

Original article was published in Tankcontainer Magazine, Volume 4 | Issue 1 | March 2017. 
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A new B2B platform can link cargo to tank containers and transportation, reports James Graham.

The industry’s first B2B (business-to-business) ‘dating site’ – where cargo shippers in need of tanker capacity can meet tank container owners and lessors – has been launched, with considerable interest from the industry.

Founders Léon de Bruin and partner Jeroen Koppenaal’s established, based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, to match supply and demand for the containerised transport of liquids, gases, food and feed worldwide. The founders came up with the idea of starting up a marketplace for tank containers thanks to their contacts in the sector.

Cargo and tank containers are matched via a user-friendly online platform, which will “result in a higher level of efficiency, substantial cost savings and more sustainability”, says de Bruin. The site also produces potential leads for new tank container business for its users.
The spark for the creation of this form of marketplace for tank containers was the need to move an unlikely liquid cargo – chicken fat. De Bruin reveals that the founders came up with the idea after learning of the experience of a US shipper.

“We heard of a shipper in Houston that had telephoned a lessor in Rotterdam to have a specific type of tank container sent over to transport chicken fat. That lessor rang around its network and found the required tank container 700 metres from the shipper’s location in Houston. We then realized that a world of opportunity, using an intelligent logistics matchmaker, awaited us,” he says.

The ‘dating site’ does not act as a broker. Instead, as a platform for parties to meet, it is designed to be neutral and transparent. If it acted as a broker to work with lessors or owners, conflicts of interest could arise if the site took an active role in the transaction.
All relevant data is entered and a match is found via a simple menu on the website. The first deals have already been concluded during the beta phase and the number of parties participating from all over the world is growing rapidly. De Bruin, vice-president of growth and marketing, notes: “That has exceeded our expectations. There is great interest, not least among the major players.”

New users

The website gained nearly 200 new users in the weeks following its launch in the first week of February 2017. This resulted in more than 35 inquiries and 50 lead connections between the website’s active users.

According to de Bruin, maintained a fast growth rate in the first weeks after the launch, which pleased the founders.

He says: “We’ve partnered up with TRUE, a leading Dutch hosting company, to maintain a reliable technical infrastructure.” The servers were upscaled in February. After listening to client and user feedback, technicians implemented a range of key platform updates to provide a better service and create value for users and clients. These updates include a blog and added functionality to see what colleagues are doing on the site.

After the up-scaling, administrators of registered users can now define exactly which colleagues can see each other’s activities on the platform. An option has been added to set hazardous cargo as an option; another option is it to be able to select flexitanks. Users are now able to filter on destinations and specific destinations can be excluded. Better readability of automated emails is now possible. Selection of multiple tank-codes to combine searching for various T-numbers with just one filter is also possible.

Contact and compare

The website has been developed to allow registered users to search, make contact with suppliers and compare offers. Users can enter search parameters such as product description, UN number or T-code. They are invited to enter the required capacity and whether the search applies to equipment only or with transport. The location of departure and destination is then entered in a given period of pickup and delivery activity.

The search query is then viewed by a range of tank container and transport suppliers. Once a suitable company is found to meet the user’s needs, the user will receive a notification by email. At that point, the user can decide from which party they want to receive an offer for their request.

Once the search is completed, it is possible to compare the various offered prices and then get in direct contact with the chosen supplier. This saves time and money and helps shippers find the right tank container in the right place at the right time.

As the site does not act as a broker or sell on the margin, its income is created from monthly subscriptions that range from US$0 to $399, depending on the range of parameters, including number of searches, user numbers and frequency of filter results.

Once a company or individual has registered using the simple registration form, enquiries can be made using a straightforward enquiry form. To encourage clients, an ‘early bird’ offer gives registered users three months free of charge before fees commence.

The basic level of access for searchers, Searcher, is free and allows unlimited searches.

The basic level of access for suppliers, Supplier Bronze, has a wider range of benefits and a price tag of $199 a month. Users get unlimited leads, unlimited matches, unlimited searches for operators and forwarders, an automatic filtering of results, with a maximum of one users. The next level Supplier Silver ($299) can be used for max. 5 users and Supplier Gold ($399) can be used for max. 25 users. 

All subscriptions are available with yearly and early-bird discounts and customization is possible for companies who want to connect more than 25 users or automate their available tank containers via a custom API.

The founders are convinced they are acting as disrupters in the tank container industry with a neutral platform that facilitates contracts that might otherwise not be made.

De Bruin says: “Finding a tank container is no easy task. Despite the fact that, according to the International Tank Container Organisation, there are around 458,200 units in circulation, not every tank container is suitable for every cargo. There are also many different types, all designated with a individual T-number, suitable for specific cargoes of chemicals, gases, oils and other liquid and solid bulk products.

“On average, between 50,000 and 80,000 units lay idle. This is not only because of the many different types but also because there has to be one available in your vicinity.”

Highly fragmemted

De Bruin considers that once the platform lifts off, the website will have a noticeable impact on the sector.

“There is a lot of secrecy about who has what available. The market is highly fragmented worldwide; there are many suppliers of tank containers with more than 10,000 companies on the demand side.”

“Via participants get into contact with each other in a clever and discreet way. That is only a good thing for all parties concerned. The entire sector ultimately stands to benefit from that efficiency gain, not to mention the importance of the sustainable impact factor.”

Published on 2017-04-26 at 17:00 by

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