CMA CGM has begun providing online bookings, guaranteed capacity, and secured capacity on the Freightos ocean freight marketplace, the latest example of container lines’ broader effort to give rates instantly to customers.
CMA CGM is the first carrier to participate on the marketplace hosted by Freightos, a technology startup that until now only provided aggregated rates from forwarders. The Marseille-based carrier joins Maersk Line and Hapag-Lloyd in offering the ability for shippers to secure rates and book cargo in an environment that’s analogous to what Expedia does for airline travel.
Large beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) have told JOC.com that are wary of the value of instant quoting tools outside of the potential to trim the time and cost around procuring on the spot market. They noted that most shippers don’t need to know a rate or get booking confirmation instantly — that a few hours, or even a day, is sufficient.
Freightos pushes for ‘Expedia-like’ system for cargo rates, bookings
But Freightos has been an advocate of pushing the industry to consider the utility of moving to an instant pricing environment that matches how consumers buy everything from airline tickets to large retail purchases. Freightos CEO Zvi Schreiber has said he sees a future where shippers think of their contract volume as their base load, with instant quoting serving as the vehicle to handle the variable component of their volume.
The development also provides an interesting spin on the evolving competitive landscape between ocean carriers and global freight forwarders. One example is Maersk’s move to incorporate freight and origin management services of its freight forwarding subsidiary Damco, including absorbing the Twill Logistics instant pricing digital forwarder model of Damco into the Maersk brand. Another is CMA CGM’s 25 percent stake in CEVA Logistics.
If carriers begin to offer rates within the same marketplace as forwarders, that places a premium on forwarders to provide value through services — either digital or physical — outside of rate and space procurement. Essentially, the question becomes how do forwarders differentiate when their service providers are also selling directly on the same platform.
While those two carriers provide instant rates and booking via modules on their websites, CMA CGM’s participation in Freightos’s marketplace is another avenue toward this concept. The instant quote model is largely designed to target two market segments: spot cargo from enterprise shippers and smaller shippers that have typically been off the radar for carriers and large forwarders.
The model emphasizes ease of booking for the shipper but also portends a lower cost of sales for carriers and forwarders, since, in theory, the sales transaction is largely automated.
As of September, only two of the top 12 liner carriers had the ability to instantly quote. A handful can accept quote requests electronically, while some have no electronic capability to accept requests outside of email. Those quotes can take anywhere from hours to days for carriers and forwarders to respond.
CMA CGM is currently offering rates through Freightos on two of its Asia-North America services: the FBX01 to the US West Coast and the FBX03 to the US East Coast. More services are expected to be added soon, Freightos told JOC.com.
CMA CGM: step raises bar for ourselves, industry
“This partnership raises the bar for ourselves, and the industry, with this important step into the digital era, selling directly to shippers on Freightos,” Mathieu Friedberg, senior vice president, commercial agencies network at CMA CGM Group, said in a statement.
Freightos has received $94.4 million in venture capital funding since its inception in 2012, including an infusion of $44.4 million from the Singapore Stock Exchange in September tied to Freightos’s ambitions to build a reliable freight rate index for the container shipping industry. The company also offers rate management software for freight forwarders in both the ocean freight and air freight markets.
“With CMA CGM selling on Freightos, smaller shippers now have direct access to a major carrier with competitive pricing,” Scheiber said in a statement. “Additionally, shippers of all sizes will have access to guaranteed prices and capacity. This aligns with our goal to help logistics providers drive more value for customers, enabling smoother global trade, and ensuring more reliable and affordable supply of goods to end consumers.”
Schreiber alluded to CMA CGM’s participation in a panel on the future of freight forwarders at the JOC Logistics Technology Conference in Las Vegas in late October. The agreement initially began as a small proof of concept between Freightos and CMA CGM but soon broadened to a much larger initiative, Freightos told JOC.com.