Now that CMA CGM is offering bookings and guaranteed pricing and availability on the Freightos website, will Freightos become an Expedia for shippers?
CMA CGM and Freightos have announced “an ambitious pilot agreement whereby CMA CGM has become the first ocean carrier listed on Freightos. Online bookings, guaranteed pricing, and secured capacity on CMA CGM China-US trade lanes are available on the platform, with further extension to additional lanes planned in the near future”.
CMA CGM said the move “reinforces its position as a digital leader within the industry and takes yet another step towards its customer-centric strategy, offering importers and exporters of all sizes direct access to instant pricing, routing, and concrete sailing information in seconds, as well as guaranteed capacity”.
Working with Freightos is a big step for CMA CGM, as the carrier has for some time been developing something similar to the Freightos Platform that makes a shipping quote available directly to anyone with goods to move. Any shipper can use Freightos website to get a price to move cargo door to door - not just port to port. Transit times are presented in ranges.
At TPM in Long Beach in 2017, CMA CGM CEO Rodolphe Saadé said CMA CGM was developing an e-commerce platform called Freddie that will allow shippers to book, trace and pay for container freight end-to-end directly online. CMA CGM has registered a Trade Mark for “Freddie”, but the platform has not been launched at this point.
One reason could be that CMA CGM has been busy embarking on a very broad digital strategy. Over the last two years it has invested in a wide range of companies and technology, including most recently a CHF 379M investment in CEVA Logistics. By contrast Freightos has a much narrower focus, and investors have poured US$94.4M into developing the company’s online platform so far.
For whatever reasons CMA CGM has decided to test the online model with Freightos before launching Freddie. The carrier notes that deal with Freightos is a big step: “This development represents a real change for the industry because for the first time, global shipping on key trade lanes functions like passenger travel or e-commerce, where customers can obtain guaranteed prices within seconds”.
This does not mean, however, that container shipping is now suddenly digitised. As the review from a Freightos user in the video below highlights, comparisons with booking air tickets online are misleading as there is still a lot of documentation to manage with international shipping. Furthermore, as the review from JayForTech notes, Freightos has the ability to change the price “if you book to far in advance.”
There is a long way to go until container shipping can be compared to bookng a flight online, but nevertheless the Freightos and CMA CGM announcement is an important step in that digital journey. It will be interesting to see whether other carriers will follow and also offer freight rates on Freightos, and whether the platform becomes something like Expedia, where buyers can shop and compare - but also open a carrier website in another window and book direct if they can find a better deal.