Thursday, August 29, 2013

New feature -- FCL THC clarification

A minor upgrade to announce: within the quote details on the OFS for FCL shipment type, the destination THC line now stipulates whether a 20' or 40' container is being assumed.

Towards the objective of simple and unconfusing design, we do not require agent tariffs or quotes to specify container size. Instead we apply a quote assumption based on an over/under threshold of 1100 cubic feet. The new THC clarification is simply to help avoid any incorrect assumptions.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Top 20 locations

About 2 years ago we started a count on how many times price quotes were calculated by PricePoint users for each city location. Here are the current top 20 out of nearly 300 total city locations:

London 10885
Singapore 9415
Houston 9273
Beijing 7430
Sydney 7185
Dubai 6524
Shanghai 5721
Perth 5208
Brisbane 4642
Hong Kong 4351
Paris 4268
Frankfurt 2662
Guangzhou 2299
Madrid 2232
New York City 2175
Amsterdam 2046
Abu Dhabi 1880
Tokyo 1734
Calgary 1662
Geneva 1530

The top 20 alone totals 93,122 quotes. 

Let's consider that further and conservatively estimate that the average traditional quote process via email request/reply requires 5 minutes of shared processing time between Booker and Agent (not to mention overnight wait time, potential for human error, etc.). 

Let's also assume the average PricePoint quote requires 1 minute (although 10-20 seconds is more likely). That means PricePoint has saved over 6200 combined man hours for the top 20 alone.

In addition, rather than getting one quote per traditional email, PricePoint provides 5-10 company options per location on average.

Monday, August 26, 2013

New Feature - Preferred Agent Highlights

Just in time for the upcoming IAM convention in Vancouver, we've added a great new feature for Bookers to better manage directing tonnage to their preferred agent network.

To explain, consider the typical convention environment in which you have meeting after meeting to explore or continue reciprocal trading agreements. Those management-level good faith discussions have the potential to not be followed-through back at the office, simply due to disconnect at the coordination/ops level who were not in attendance at the convention.

Therefore, PricePoint now allows Client Bookers to specify their preferred Agents within our database, which will in turn highlight those agents when the Booker's coordination/pricing staff are assigning moves via PricePoint. See image below, with example preferred Agents highlighted in dark blue (all displayed pricing on this image has been randomized to protect Agent privacy). This new feature enables you to always keep your staff on the same page of who your company's preferred agents are.

Client Booker Usage Instructions

Simply email a list of your preferred agents to, or download a current copy of PricePoint's active Agent list ( to mark your preferred Agents, again emailing to admin@griprocure.comYour request will be processed within 24 hours, with confirmation of completion.

Monday, August 19, 2013


"A marketplace is a good idea for privacy-enhancing technologies."

- Ari M. Schwartz - Internet Policy Advisor @
The National Institute of Standards and Technology

Contrary to the initial assumption that some people have, the online marketplace of PricePoint actually enhances confidentiality, compared to traditional pricing methods of published tariffs, spreadsheet, and email quotes. A number of my blog posts make reference to PricePoint's privacy structure (see Privacy label for other posts), which is appropriate as privacy is the most essential design consideration which makes PricePoint work so well.  This post will be an overview of our core privacy features.


Beyond the landing page ( PricePoint is entirely ID/password-secured application. Each user ID is governed by strict firewall protocols. i.e. No agent can access any other agent's data, pricing, etc.

Privacy/Discount Settings

When an Agent signs-in to PricePoint, the first thing they see is their Privacy/Discount settings page. This shows the Agent all of our Client/Bookers who potentially have access to the Agent's pricing. That access permission is directly controlled by the Agent. The Agent can apply "Restricted" status to any of the Clients, which applies an immediate and complete firewall so that Client will have no access to that Agent's pricing. Alternatively, the Agent can discreetly apply percentage price discounts/increases to any of the Client Bookers. These settings are of course entirely confidential to the Agent.

Tariff (in)visibility

As addressed in another post, traditional tariffs are often price-inflated because the Agent does not want their truly competitive pricing to fall into the hands of a competitor. To safeguard against this (and in turn encourage competitive pricing), PricePoint's firewalls do not allow ANY other companies to view an Agent's tariffs except for the Agent themselves. Not even our Client users can view the tariffs, who instead use our Price Calculator tool for specific shipment size quotes. This protection prevents a Booker's potential rogue employee from taking screenshots of any Agent's tariff and distributing to unauthorized parties. 

Confidential discount/increase application

Since Bookers cannot see your Tariffs, nor your Privacy/Discount settings, they will not know if your are applying a percentage increase or discount to them, unless you choose to tell them of a favorable discount. Any increase/discount will be automatically applied to any price quotes for that Booker via PricePoint.

10 day waiting period

Whenever a new Booker joins the PricePoint Client Group, an announcement email is sent out by PricePoint Admin ( to all Agents. The Agents then have at least 10 days to adjust their Privacy/Discount settings BEFORE that new Booker is granted any pricing access.

Geographic privacy protocols

During that 10 day period, PricePoint Admin will apply default Restricted status on behalf of any Agents who are based in the same country as the new Client Booker. This is based on the presumption that the Agent and Booker are competitors in that country. This serves as a precaution in case the Agent did not see or failed to act on the 10 day wait period announcement.


Finally, all our Client Bookers must sign our User Agreement before receiving access to authorized Agent pricing. A central highlighted provision in the Agreement is their acknowledgement that all Agent pricing is to be treated as highly confidential and cannot be shared with any other moving companies.

In sum, we expect any participating company would agree that this array of security measures provides far better privacy assurances than any traditional methods of tariffs, spreadsheets, emails, etc.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Agent Tips #2

I happened to be cc'd on an email correspondence between one of our Bookers and their Agent. The Booker had requested a price quote from an Agent via email, even though the Agent had rates available in PricePoint (more on that practice below). The email quote was higher than the PricePoint quote. When the Booker questioned this, the Agent explained: 

"In the future, if you’re using PricePoint, please don’t ask for separate rates or most likely you’ll get higher prices than PricePoint."

This comment highlights a departure from traditional pricing methodology which is central to the international moving industry. PricePoint is designed to help evolve the industry towards this mutually beneficial better practice, as demonstrated by the above agent's mentality.

First let's address the common practice in which traditional "published" tariffs are typically priced higher than a "spot quote" from the same agent via email. Why is this?  I can think of a few reasons:

1) Price Privacy

The industry is very sensitive about not disclosing pricing to competitors. Since traditional tariffs can easily find their way into the hands of a competitor, the rates are published at somewhat inflated levels.

2) Price Fluctuation / Tariff Distribution

The industry is of course highly cyclical in terms of peak vs off-peak seasons. Meanwhile traditional tariff creation and distribution is rather tedious, and therefore only done once per year, or even less often. Hence it is sensible to set tariff prices at the "high water mark", because an agent would not want to be held to lower published rates in the busy season.

3) Booker-Price Variations

It is common for agents to agree to different price levels for different bookers, so again the agent would not want to publicly distribute pricing which is lower than any of those agreements.

All that said, PricePoint resolves all of these concerns. A number of features (addressed in other blog posts - see Privacy label) provide much greater price privacy security than any traditional pricing methods (published tariffs, emails, etc.). These security measures includes the ease of discreetly offering different price levels to different Bookers. Regarding fluctuation/distribution, Agents are free to easily update their tariffs whenever they choose, which effectively provides truly instant "distribution" of the new rates to our Client Booker group, without having to deal with tedious email distributions.

In sum, having neutralized the traditional reasons for inflated tariff pricing, it is sensible to offer truly competitive pricing upfront via PricePoint. Why? First, PricePoint serves as a no-cost member of staff who flawlessly quotes OA/DA rates on your behalf. If you have to pay a staff member to manually respond to quotes via email, vs PricePoint quoting those rates for you automatically, clearly the latter scenario creates admin savings which can be shared with Bookers/customers.

Taking that thought process further, the traditional approach is to offer a high price via tariff, then discount upon request. That tactic is in some respects irrational because you are reducing your price for a more costly sales process. Hence the agent comment above is essentially saying "please don't waste my time with email quotes since I am giving you a better rate via PricePoint."

Lastly, there's also a strong correlation that time-sensitive quote opportunities are also more cost-sensitive. Considering global time zones, PricePoint enables the Booker to provide much faster same-day quotes to their sales leads, rather than waiting overnight (or longer) for the agent's time/cost-consuming email quote reply. Again a more efficient process and higher closing ratio helps to justify lower tariff rates for these cost-sensitive sales opportunities.