We interviewed Manel Galindo, CEO of WebCargo, for an inside look into the state of cargo booking digitization in 2023, and specifically why eBookings are taking the freight world by storm.
Read on to discover:
- What Digital Air Cargo is
- Why airlines are embracing digitization
- What eBooking is and why it matters
- How eBookings are shaping the future of freight
Cyberspace Shipping: The stickiness of Digital Air Cargo soars (and why you should care)
The stickiness of eBooking for digital air cargo has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt in the past year, as airlines have embraced the power of digital bookings through third-party platforms. With the start of 2023, the record numbers of eBookings being placed show just how much carriers and forwarders have come to appreciate the convenience and efficiency of this new way of doing business.
The statistics speak for themselves – digitized capacity on third-party platforms skyrocketed by nearly 300% from 2020’s start to Q2 2022. There’s no doubt which way the wind is blowing – the use of eBookings is being consolidated and widely appreciated by both carriers and forwarders:
“The more airlines our marketplace can have on our system, the easier it is for freight forwarders to use for booking online. They need to compare, to see different options,” explains Manel Galindo, CEO of WebCargo.
For forwarders, every second counts. The ability to digitally compare capacity, prices and routing options across air carriers, and then instantly book capacity on a specific flight, at a specific price is a crucial, time-saving measure. Some digital solutions let forwarders book as much as 80% faster, adding up to one hour per team member per day, and for a small forwarders office, this is like having an extra person around! If forwarders typically only win around 20% of their RFPs, the time it takes them to quote is a serious cost. Forwarders using digital air cargo platforms for pricing, quoting and booking have seen up to a 5% increase in their win rates thanks to the instant rate lookup and comparison they enable.
The reduction in unnecessary communication, alongside the ability to seamlessly find ideal pricing and routing, also means a vastly improved customer experience for the shipper – and satisfied customers are repeat customers. To learn more about eBooking, skip ahead to this section.
Farewell Emails: Airlines embrace digitization, but why now?
What started as a vision for Digital Air Cargo (DAC) a few years ago has become a reality. Pandemic volatility and the need for remote work instigated a rapid shift among airlines to digital platforms, with digitized cargo capacity on third party platforms having increased by nearly 300% from the start of 2020 through Q2 2022 alone.
The pandemic saw a scarcity of bellyhold capacity, with corona restrictions impacting schedules and many teams working remotely, producing major supply chain disruption. As a result, airlines turned to digital tools that could enable carriers to adapt and promptly respond to ever-changing circumstances.
Take a look at how digitizing with WebCargo opened new avenues for Turkish Airlines to understand their market and more.
“The most important [thing] is what was happening in the market. First of all, the capacity on the market was dropping because of Covid. So for the freight forwarder, it was really difficult to know who was flying to which destination or who had capacity available,” notes Galindo.
To mitigate supply chain disruption, airlines quickly (incredibly quickly, given how slow B2B digital transformation typically takes) enabled instant air cargo rate search and eBooking on third party platforms like WebCargo, making over 50% of global air cargo capacity available online by 2023 – a more than 16x increase since the end of 2018.
eBooking 101: What it is, and why it’s making waves
eBooking is a digital solution that provides forwarders with a fast, easy (and free!) way to find, compare and book real-time rates and capacity.
“A marketplace like WebCargo, helps them [forwarders] to know in real time, available prices and capacity. I think this pushed the freight forwarders to move to electronic bookings [during the pandemic]. And of course, once things came back to normality, freight forwarders were used to the benefits of booking online.
This was one of the biggest drivers of the increase in the number of eBookings in the market over the last two years. Furthermore, over the last few years, we moved from integrating one carrier on our platform, to almost 40. So forwarders can now compare different options across top carriers, not only for one lane, but for any lane in the world,” Galindo explains.
Given the hypergrowth of airlines joining third party platforms like WebCargo, forwarders of any size can discover and access real-time carrier schedules, prices, and capacity, providing immediate visibility to lanes and services they may otherwise not have been aware of, and enable them to make quicker, more informed pricing and booking decisions.
This level of transparency provided by digital air cargo, 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!
See how it works in just 100 seconds:
The eBooking Future is Now: How it’s changing freight for the better
The future of freight is online.
“Right now with the capacity that we have on WebCargo, I think that the information we are giving to the freight forwarders is really competitive, and that’s why we see more and more forwarders choosing to book for free through our platform,” Galindo remarks.
Not only does eBooking enable instant access to accurate airline pricing and routing information, but when booking specifically through WebCargo’s eBooking solution, forwarders gain access to a number of other mission-critical, yet free, value-driving features, including:
- Simple but powerful searching that makes comparing prices, transit times, and multiple-leg shipments across airlines a breeze
- Industry-leading coverage with carriers like Emirates SkyCargo, American Airlines, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, and China Southern Airlines
- Innovative features like dynamic quoting and eAWB generation across top carriers
- Faster repeat searches with in-line search history
- CO2 visibility and offsetting
- Integration to WebCargo’s rate management and quoting platform
This instant access to dynamic capacity and rates, combined with time-saving features in an integrated booking platform, means not only better utilization for carriers but also better pricing, increased reliability, speed, and volume of quotes for forwarders. Freightos research on the benefits of digital tools for freight sales teams estimates that the time saved by a sales team with instant rate search eBooking can result in a 3-8% reduction in underlying freight costs, and an increase of up to 5% in win-rates.
Elevating eBooking: Unleashing the power of online booking for specialized shipping services
“Right now, almost all eBookings are related to general cargo. We [WebCargo] want to include the ability to book shipments for products such as perishables and hazardous goods, so that freight forwarders can book all their shipments in a single platform,” Galindo comments.
The future of eBooking has gotten a whole lot more exciting with Galindo’s vision, as forwarders will no longer be confined to simply shipping general cargo. They will be able to use real-time rate and capacity lookup and online booking for specialized shipping services such as perishables and hazardous goods too.
This new capability is a game-changer in the industry, making the transportation of a wider range of cargo not only more convenient but also safer and more efficient. This is a major step forward in the world of digital logistics, as it allows forwarders to streamline their operations when shipping all product types and offer their customers a more comprehensive range of shipping options.
In Plain English
With the ability to ship all product types on a single platform, forwarders can reduce the time and effort they spend on managing multiple systems and focus on providing the highest level of customer service, ultimately helping to close more sales and increase revenue. This is truly a game-changer for the air cargo industry and one that will have a lasting impact for years to come.