When Sean Crook and Christopher Makhoul launched their new age freight forwarding business, Neolink, their goal was simple – leverage the latest technologies to streamline and optimize supply chain processes.
“We wanted to focus on supply chains, our customers and on solving some of the biggest challenges in the global freight and logistics space, so it was important that we had the right partners, the right tools and the right technologies to enable that,” says Mr Crook.
Founded in 2017, Neolink is an Australian-based freight forwarder providing a range of freight forwarding and customs, brokerage, warehousing, domestic and international transport services to and from more than 800 cities and 200 countries.
After looking into the latest logistics technologies that were being pioneered and applied globally around workflow automation, triggers and exceptions, and artificial intelligence, they quickly landed on CargoWise.
“When we looked at all the capabilities that existed in the industry around automation potential versus the gap of what was being delivered, we saw a major opportunity with CargoWise.
“We felt that we could really deliver a unique business model and help provide a better solution to Australian importers and exporters,” Mr Makhoul explains.
A technology-first focus meant that CargoWise was implemented from Neolink’s inception, a decision which provided a significant advantage to the business.
“CargoWise was the only platform that we felt could offer a lot of the global integrations, shipping line integrations and solve a lot of the tech stack issues we have within the global supply chain. We also felt that we had a unique advantage to leverage the capability of the system by starting fresh.
“When we saw the platform’s capabilities, combined with our business model, we felt like we had a potential competitive advantage if we could get our automation up to speed as quickly as possible,” says Mr Crook.
Increased productivity with automation and real-time visibility
With CargoWise as the backbone of their operations, Neolink has been able to streamline the shipping process, increase productivity, and free staff up to provide tailored supply chain solutions to their customers.
“With CargoWise, we saw the benefits it would bring if we put the time, energy and effort into automating a range of different processes. It would free up our people to spend more time engaging with supply chains, finding the efficiencies, and providing that to our customers, and that's where we've seen the benefit,” says Mr Crook.
For Operations Coordinator, Eduarda Brognara, CargoWise’s real-time data and shipment visibility enables her to easily track the movement of goods and provide accurate information to customers, enabling them to better plan for their supply chain.
“I can come in, open CargoWise and see everything that is happening and see all the shipments in one place. If I have a client asking for something, I can track exactly where their shipment is, and I can provide that visibility and transparency that our customers want.”
On-demand customer service
While many of their competitors struggled with the transition to remote working during the COVID-19 lockdowns, Neolink’s technology-first approach meant that they were able to continue business as usual, and as a result, their growth accelerated.
“It was a very daunting time, and we didn't know what was going to happen, but we found that we received a lot of calls from prospective customers that hadn't shipped with us yet asking if we were still operating.
“We've all got laptops, mobile phones, and we use cloud-based software, so everyone was able to log on from home. We’re agile, we’re dynamic, and despite lockdowns, we were operating as usual. That’s a consequence of us starting fresh and really leveraging technology from our inception,” explains Mr Makhoul.
Mr Crook adds that with the right tools and technology at their fingertips, combined with their single point of contact model, they were able to deliver proactive, responsive and on-demand customer service, opening the door to new customer acquisitions.
“Because we were tech-enabled from the start, we weren't spending time trying to solve the problem of getting people laptops or phones. As a result, we had customers that we had been pitching to for four or five years reach out to us and we were able to onboard them quickly and seamlessly.”
Extending the power of technology investment
Continued investment in technology is a key priority for Neolink, and that includes keeping up with the latest CargoWise developments.
Since implementing PAVE, CargoWise’s Productivity Acceleration and Visualization Engine, they can clearly see workflows and identify areas that can be improved or automated, enabling their staff to be more efficient and productive.
“When we started the business, we were hungry for any way we could use technology to improve. So seeing the CargoWise updates about PAVE and how this was going to revolutionize the industry, we were really keen for it,” says Mr Makhoul.
“It helps us to identify the operational bottlenecks within our business more quickly and easily. There wasn't really a way of doing that without PAVE, so it’s been fantastic in helping us implement that process,” adds Mr Crook.
In terms of what’s next for Neolink, Mr Crook says their focus is on domestic growth, continuing to build a strong team, and expanding into additional markets.
“We are remaining very much focused on Australian supply chains and working with Australian importers and exporters to deliver the best global supply chains we possibly can at this moment in time.
“Without CargoWise, we wouldn't have been able to scale the business as quickly as we have, so there's also the potential for us to replicate what we’re doing here overseas as well in other markets in the long-term.”
“We were the 10th fastest growing company in the Smart 50 this year, and we were the only freight forwarder in the Australian Financial Review Fast Starters list. So our goal is to keep growing, to keep finding good people to join the business, and to keep bolstering our sales team to go out there and share the Neolink story,” concludes Mr Makhoul.