New CMA CGM efforts to boost responsiveness to shippers

New CMA CGM efforts to boost responsiveness to shippers

Mathieu Friedberg, senior vice president, commercial and agency network, CMA CGM, addresses the media at the 18th Annual TPM Conference. Photo credit: Caught in the Moment Photography.

LONG BEACH, California — CMA CGM wants “to be more than a price tag” and to that end will roll out insurance, trade finance, and technology and digitization efforts to make the carrier more responsive to shipper needs.

CMA CGM will introduce electronic bills of lading, worldwide electronic payment, and data analysis platforms to help shippers optimize their supply chains with the goal of creating an all-encompassing digital ecosystem that will enable the entire shipping process from booking to dispute resolution to take place electronically. The company plans to introduce a trade finance initiative and recently launched its “Serenity” program, wherein a shipper pays a small fee and, should anything happen to their cargo, CMA CGM will compensate them for the value of the cargo.

“I would like my customers to walk into São Paulo and be recognized for what he is, and then walk into New York, or Kuala Lumpur, and get the exact same level of service because he’s recognized for what he is,” Mathieu Friedberg, senior vice president, commercial and agency network, CMA CGM, said Monday at the 18th annual TPM Conference in Long Beach, California. “So the hotel industry, in that regard, is really for us a good example of what we should be looking for in terms of customer service.”

The trade finance program and a personalized assistant to help shippers spot opportunity will help customers reach new markets, the company said.

Many of these efforts have already begun, and CMA CGM wants to make them company-wide over the next year. An ongoing but longer-term goal is to turn the carrier’s entire container fleet into a part of the Internet of Things, and make them “more than an empty shell” that is able to communicate information such as door openings, temperature, and humidity with the ability to alert shippers to changes they deem worth tracking. About 6,000 containers are already capable of providing that information.

A pilot program using the “smart” containers highlighted the potential gains for shippers from such programs and related analysis. The pilot enabled a large European retailer on the Asia-Europe trade to discover that, unbeknownst to the retailer, it was losing 12 hours of waiting time because containers were arriving too early at the port in China for export, Friedberg said.

The Marseille-based carrier made the announcement that it would be focusing on “customer centricity” to try to reverse the commoditization of the container shipping industry since the Great Recession, which has seen the market focus on rates to the exclusion of other factors.

Much of that effort will involve standardizing service and empowering people on the ground to make decisions, Friedberg said. “It’s useless having people on the ground if they cannot take action.”

Contact Dustin Braden at and follow him on Twitter: @dustin_joc.