End-of-year interview with Martijn Berghout
29 December 2022
The new year lies before us like a blank page. This is the perfect moment for reflection. In this end-of-year interview, we ask Martijn Berghout, Ritra Cargo’s co-owner and director, to reflect upon the past year. In addition, we are of course curious about current developments within Ritra Cargo as well as what the expectations are for 2023.
Surprising market developments among colleagues, the influence of corona, the increasingly important digitalisation; in a single year, a lot happens in logistics. How do you look back on the year behind us?
“One word that first comes to mind is: acquisitions. Shipping companies and quite a few logistics service providers made a lot of money during the pandemic and you see the drive for rapid growth. Shipping companies are trying to get a better grip on the entire logistics chain. They are not shying away from acquisitions of freight forwarders. Even the acquisition of aircraft is not shunned. Everything is being pulled out of the closet to get a grip on other sectors. Consequently, even the airline industry is now facing this.”
“In addition, you see the big, so-called ‘global’ forwarders increasing their market share through acquisitions. I don’t know the exact intention of course, but I think the quality of service does not always improve as providers get bigger.”
Putting the overall situation behind us for a moment, how do you think Ritra Cargo has distinguished itself over the past year?
“I would venture to say personality. How difficult has it become to speak to someone in person these days? We all likely notice it on a personal level and in our daily lives. As the supplier gets bigger, you rely increasingly on a well-functioning, digital environment. If that digital environment then doesn’t work properly, or doesn’t offer you a solution at the time, you often get stuck.”
“I recently tried, as an individual, to get in touch by phone with a major airline, about compensation for my lost suitcase. It was simply impossible. There is no phone number anywhere. Even e-mails were not answered. I could only chat with a computer.”
“At Ritra Cargo, to this day, when many (new) providers are increasingly presenting themselves as digital freight forwarders, we believe in a personalised approach. Surely you can’t expect people to put their entire logistics process, challenges and concerns to you without ever having seen or spoken to you and established a certain level of partnership with you?”
Apart from the personal touch, how does Ritra Cargo deal with today’s digitalisation?
“I realise that digitalisation is key and I am glad we started developing today’s TRACOS over 11 years ago. With this online platform, we offer a smart solution to the logistics challenge of shippers. So it is not that special to have an online platform as some digital freight forwarders claim.”
“Ritra’s TRACOS was developed and designed at the time to reduce e-mail traffic regarding shipments, provide insight at PO level and actively communicate with each other about this via the portal. We have now spent 11 years developing it with our own IT team. Always focused on meeting customer-specific requirements and wishes.”
“All those years of investment, adaptation and improvement mean that today TRACOS is a mature portal, in which much more can be done and retrieved than in the initial phase. Thus, alongside personalisation, TRACOS has become one of the two main pillars of our service.”
As for the latest developments in digital, can we expect anything more from TRACOS in 2023?
“It is of course vital to keep developing TRACOS. Many customers already work with it to their full satisfaction, but there is always room for improvement. There are also still many customers who do not use TRACOS. Presumably because the current way of working with these clients is also satisfactory?”
“Nevertheless, we want to point out to customers in the coming year what TRACOS can do for them. We have even appointed a product owners team whose task is to come up with new, smart features and ease of use, while at the same time bringing TRACOS more to the attention of relations. Of course, TRACOS does not replace the personal touch, but it can make your life a lot easier.”
What else can we expect from Team Ritra in 2023?
“In addition to TRACOS, our personal service remains the other main pillar. You can be as digital as ever; accessibility and personal contact with your regular contact person are just as important.”
“We like to use the term ‘Team Ritra’ ourselves, but we are also often called that by customers. Our customers like to have a quick word, the team likes it when everything is clear and well discussed. No surprises afterwards, no catches. This is us, this is what we do and this is how it stays.”
“I am incredibly proud of our highly skilled team, with colleagues who have been with Ritra for an average of more than 15 years of service. The all-important knowledge and quality of these people and their commitment and drive to always provide the right information is sometimes easily overlooked… Incidentally, for many of Ritra Cargo’s customers, it goes without saying that this is the case, and that is certainly something to be proud of as well.”
“We recently refurbished our office at Schiphol and fitted it with the beautiful furniture we have had in Rotterdam for a while. This gives a great boost and with 2 new colleagues (one as of the summer and another from 2 January), we are complete and totally ready for 2023 at Schiphol too!
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