That’s how nPassage, the Seattle-based Internet logistics company, began an unusual press release that went on to admit times are tough for the new Internet-based logistics services.
According to Tom Dowd, marketing vice president for nPassage, the online logistics industry knows the customers are out there; they’re just not buying.
“I think everybody has known that for probably the last six months or so, but no one was saying it,” said Dowd.
Dowd explained that many shippers are skeptical of the Internet logistics onslaught. “These guys might slap their credit card down to buy little Johnny a stuffed toy for Christmas over the Internet. That’s different from trusting five truckloads worth half a million dollars in company revenue to an Internet application,” he said.
Shippers are looking at the Internet companies and turning thumbs down – at least for now.
"We’re losing deals,” Dowd admitted. “But we’re not losing to competitors; we’re losing to 'I’ll-build-myself' or 'let’s-wait-and-see.'"
So nPassage has changed course.
“The market is much more early-stage than we had thought. We are going to have to do a lot more tailoring if customers are going to be comfortable enough to go forward -- or compelled to go forward,” he said.
That means nPassage will work to customize its product for individual customers.
“If you are Mr. Internet-Trade-Exchange and you don't want our name in front of people, we will be the 'Intel-Inside,'" he said.
For example, nPassage will provide online logistics in the background for customers doing business on the Internet. But the company is prepared to go further, creating custom data fields their customers – or their customers’ customers – might need for business convenience.
“We are willing to tailor our application to do that and see if we can't leverage that for other customers,” said Dowd.
Of course, Dowd believes that nPassage is positioned to prosper once business gets comfortable with the Internet.
“Our offering has been around longer than anybody else. We've been working on the product since 1995. We run version 3. Most of our competitors have only released version one or still haven't released a product.”
Yet another example of the naked emperor, said Dowd.