In this article, you’ll learn:
- What makes 2023 a hybrid era, and the critical role API integrations play
- Why TMS API integrations are igniting the forwarding world
- How API integrations let forwarders stay competitive with superior air cargo pricing booking
2023’s Hybrid Era and Bridging the Gap with APIs
It’s 2023, and over the last few years, airlines have raced to provide digital air cargo offerings via the remarkably rapid adoption of digital solutions. Carriers representing over 50% of air cargo capacity are now digitized – a staggering 16x surge since 2018. Digital offerings provide both carriers and forwarders with increased revenue, lower operational costs, better business intelligence for more agile pricing, and a superior customer experience.
With the adoption of digital tools, carriers can provide proper visibility into available capacity, dynamic rates, and instant pricing for that capacity, which freight forwarders then capture to build quotes for the importers and exporters.
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True – what represents over 50% of global airline capacity can now be booked online, with some airlines even reporting over 60% of their spot bookings now taking place on their own websites. However, it is widely estimated that the majority of air cargo bookings still occur offline and likely rely on fixed rates. Consequently, the years between 2023 and 2025…or even 2030, serve as a transitional phase, where static rate sheets and real-time API pricing coexist.
Now that digitalization has occurred at the source – the carriers – forwarders are looking for API integrations that enable them to quickly access and manage the pricing, capacity, routing and timing of their cargo, all of which can then be made available to shippers.
Third-party platforms like WebCargo, are therefore creating those critical lines of integration between the different parties, to bridge the gap between exclusively managing rates, and obtaining quote-building information solely through APIs during this transition period.
TMS API Integrations: Fueling a Forwarding Revolution
Why are ‘TMS API integrations’ 2023’s buzzwords?
It’s simple. Forwarders simultaneously interact with numerous different parties in the logistics chain – such as customers, shippers, managers, transporters, etc. When the processes aren’t organized well, operational efficiency often takes the hit.
The ability to deliver a direct flow of information between all parties therefore ultimately drives a forwarder’s operational efficiency and provides a better customer experience. This means that end-to-end air cargo pricing and booking from airlines through forwarders to shippers forms a crucial puzzle piece for maximizing operational efficiency and customer satisfaction across the entire logistics chain.
In a nutshell: API connections are key to staying ahead in the freight forwarding game. As Charles Marrale, CEO of ExFreight puts it,
“We can show customers accurate information with regard to pricing, available flights, space…with just one API connection…Digitization has greatly improved the efficiency of the operations team. They can now do more with less.”
This level of transparency provided by API connections results in a 20x improvement in booking time for forwarders, and has meant a record 150+K eBookings placed with WebCargo’s booking platform in Q3 of 2022 alone!
BUT, beyond APIs that enable direct access to carrier rates, the real game-changer lies in APIs that provide the ability to connect to another system – eg. a TMS – or another customer portal.
These APIs allow forwarders to connect their rate management systems to their TMSs or their rate management systems to their sales portals, all still with API access to rates from the over 50% of global air cargo capacity available online.
TMS API integrations therefore allow forwarders to price, book and manage shipments end-to-end, without picking up the phone, sending an email…or ever even needing to leave their platform of choice, saving up to one hour per team member per day.
One Platform to Rule Them All
Staying competitive in today’s volatile air cargo market is difficult, and maintaining an operational edge can often come down to a matter of clicks.
This is why WebCargo has developed APIs that integrate into both off-the-shelf and in-house TMSs, allowing forwarders and forwarding networks to get ahead of the curve without ever leaving their platform of choice.
WebCargo’s cutting-edge combination of contract and dynamic APIs streamline workflows directly from a TMS, with powerful features including:
- Real-time pricing and capacity
Forwarders need direct access to data. When team members determine pricing and available capacity by relying on multiple rate sheets and over a dozen surcharges, it significantly raises the risk of costly inaccuracies that can increase booking times by 20x, not to mention the invoice reconciliation headaches this generates.
With APIs that provide competitive and accurate static or dynamic rates across 40+ leading carriers, forwarders can immediately surface all the information needed to make smarter booking decisions directly from their TMS.
“By using WebCargo, the user can request current prices from the airlines directly from CargoSoft TMS, make bookings and integrate that data into the order,” explains Friedrich Schierenberg, CEO of CargoSoft.
- Direct eBookings, complete with automatic eAWBs.
The manual transfer of data from a booking platform into a TMS simply invites human error. Eliminating double entries and providing instant booking with live confirmation pushed to a forwarder’s TMS, therefore enhances efficiency and reduces errors in the quoting and booking process.
This ultimately translates into lower sales costs and the ability to direct resources away from repetitive tasks and towards adding value and improving the customer experience.
- End-to-end management
A fully digitized cargo pricing, booking and management process via API, allows forwarders to effortlessly stay on top of shipments with automatic document exchange after booking, and full track-and-trace.
By streamlining even post-booking workflows from a single platform – especially in combination with rate API and eBooking APIs – can increase team efficiency by as much as 86%.
In Plain English
TMS API integrations allow for a data flow that provides better transparency, with a lower risk of error, and of course, being able to make more intelligent, accurate pricing and booking decisions faster than ever before…all without ever needing to leave the TMS.