Just Twill it
Published on 07 June 2017
"Customers have become accustomed to software-driven simplicity in other parts of their business and personal lives and they want it for shipping too,” says Troels Støvring, CEO of Twill.
Troels Støvring and his team built the beta version of Twill in just 20 weeks. While the pace of its further development will be driven by customer feedback, the ambition is that Damco’s new digital freight forwarder will also scale up fast.
“We are in a race, no doubt about it. Customers have become accustomed to software-driven simplicity in other parts of their business and personal lives and they want it for shipping too,” says Støvring, CEO of Twill. “That is why we built Twill, to combine the power of software with our people and expertise in order to simplify the shipping experience for our customers.”
Eat or be eaten
Simple does not describe the typical freight forwarding customer’s experience today. Unfortunately, emails, phone calls and the associated waiting and worrying about where one’s products are in the supply chain constitute an all too familiar reality.
Twill’s online platform offers customers one place to view quotes and place bookings instantly, manage related documents, track shipments and proactively address exceptions. No more waiting, no more annoying back and forth communication, no more uncertainty. Twill customers can access a simple, self-service interface online wherever and whenever they choose.
Of course, Twill is not alone in providing a digital alternative to freight forwarding customers. The market has seen an influx of competitors over the last few years and Twill faces tough competition from a mix of venture capital-backed start-ups rapidly acquiring scale and other logistics incumbents like its parent, Damco.
“If it’s ‘eat or be eaten’ time in this industry, I think Twill’s advantage is that it isn’t just about the software,” says Støvring. “What we’re actually doing is combining the knowledge, expertise and scale of Damco as a major freight forwarder with the agile mindset of a start-up. We have to prove it, of course, but I think it puts us in a unique position to win in this market.”
Co-created with the customer
After a successful beta version of Twill was launched with a limited number of customers using it to do business between the UK and China, Twill is now open for business in the UK market.
CEO of Twill Troels Støvring and his team built the beta version of Twill in just 20 weeks.
Because of its customer-driven development, Twill was never meant to be seen as a finished product, but rather as one that grows in step with customer needs. As customers use it and provide feedback, more shipping routes, features and products will be added. The Twill team can update the online platform just as one would an app.
“With Twill, we are putting customers in control of what has traditionally been a stressful process with very little control or visibility on their side,” says Richard Few, a commercial team member at Twill. He says the reaction of one customer to the very simple beta version was encouraging: “He said ‘It is obviously a lot better than what we’ve got at the moment. I would be daft to not sign up for this.’”
Growth and efficiency
If Twill is successful, the benefit to Damco’s overall business would be significant. While supply chain management is Damco’s primary business, freight forwarding contributes nearly one-third of Damco’s revenue.
By improving the freight forwarding customers’ experience, and making their lives simpler, Twill hopes to win more business from existing customers as well as win new customers. It also expects to reap major savings from the lower cost required to serve customers on the digital platform.
“Twill is a story about growth and efficiency. We can grow and optimise our current freight forwarding business and then use the efficiency gains from our leaner processes to reinvest and grow even more. It won’t be easy, this is a market with some strong competitors. But if we keep our focus on what the customer needs, we will succeed,” says Støvring.