Disclaimer: Some logistics tech experts recently shared their frustration with logisticsh tech marketing hype. They’re right. So here’s my plain English,
nolow-hype overview of WebCargo Sky’s launch and why I think it’s a big deal for airlines, forwarders, and importers.
First, a little background about the Freightos vision.
Freightos tries to make global freight easier by pursuing two parallel goals, both complicated. The first is automating pricing, booking, and shipment management for importers and exporters, which we do with freightos.com, our online freight marketplace.
Unlike the Staples button, it’s not easy.
The challenge to automating freight sales is that the forwarders or carriers that would sell on our marketplace were rarely automated themselves. Do you know what they call a marketplace without live pricing? Broken.
So since 2013, we’ve had a second goal – digitizing freight sales for forwarders and carriers. Acquiring WebCargo in 2016 was an adrenalin shot for this.
To make it easy for forwarders to provide customers instant prices and shipment booking, our two platforms, WebCargo Air and WebCargo AcceleRate, managed rates for forwarders, provided live access to carrier rates, and helped 1,400+ forwarders work faster. Many of the biggest names in the industry, like CEVA Logistics, Hellmann, Nippon Express, and others use our software. Some of the larger clients use our software internally and offer services on our marketplace (others don’t – you can’t win them all).
But let’s talk about booking air cargo.
If Amazon showed you prices but couldn’t tell you available inventory, it would be fairly useless. After buying your daughter a life-size costume, an Amazon employee would need to check if they had the costume in the warehouse. If they didn’t, they’d then email you to tell you that you could choose another costume. In more sophisticated markets (Superbowl tickets), availability impacts price. This is known as dynamic pricing and it’s why Justin Bieber tickets aren’t as expensive as they used to be.
Air cargo isn’t fully digitized. Yet.
So every time an air rate is requested by a forwarder or shipper, that capacity warehouse run happens. If capacity wasn’t available, it would mean another 3-4 calls, as well as time wasted on a shipment that was likely urgent, given that it was meant to move by air.
WebCargo made life easier for over a thousand forwarders by aggregating airline rates from 350+ airlines, helping forwarders instantly quote and compare rates. But since airlines weren’t themselves automated, forwarders would still need to call the airline to see if there was available space.
So we decided to change that.
Introducing WebCargo Sky
We’re taking our network of 350+ airlines, our user base of tens of thousands of users across 1,400 forwarders (I may have already mentioned that number), our industry-leading number of direct airline integrations, and launching a product called WebCargo Sky.
In plain English, WebCargo Sky provides forwarders with live access to air cargo rates across a huge number of airlines. With select airlines, like Air France, KLM, British Airways, Lufthansa, Iberia, Aer Lingus, and others, Sky also offers live insights into available capacity and live booking.
And we’re making it free.
That’s not (only) because we’re good-hearted (we are).
It’s because aggressively expanding our (already large) user base of forwarders ensures that we’re the go-to place for airlines to offer services. It’s a positive flywheel that will help the industry, pushing more airlines online, which will, in turn, push more forwarders online.
Why is WebCargo Sky better?
Great question. For a bunch of reasons:
- We’ve have the largest network of airline rates. Full stop. Which is important, given the fact that the vast majority of airlines don’t have automated prices. So WebCargo Sky offers instant prices from hundreds of airlines that aren’t even automated yet.
- It’s not just about the live airline rates. Our existing offering, WebCargo Air, also helps forwarders thousands of forwarders manage contracted rates, distribute quotes to customers, integrate with their existing systems and more. Yes, this does cost a little bit more (but trust me, it’s pennies compared to the amount of time we save them).
- We’re active partners in helping some of the world’s largest airlines sell online. There’s a reason we were the first platform IAG – and others – tapped to sell online.
- Our customer service. I hate meetings with WebCargo’s CEO because he constantly gets interrupted by calls from customers. It’s not because we don’t have amazing support teams; it’s because everyone at WebCargo loves providing outstanding service, from Manel and down. And, as any forwarder knows, service counts.
Much lies ahead, both in terms of the technology we’re developing and the partners we’re going to be working with.
But, for now, I want to celebrate for a moment. Free forwarder platforms means that it will be easier for the industry to move online, eliminating costs and making it a no-brainer to book online. Less software spend, less time wasted, better access to rates.
Remember when Gmail launched one gigabyte storage?
This is a similar turning point for the industry. Technology that enables connectivity is going to be more available than ever. Carriers, forwarders, and, ultimately, customers, are going to win.
How’s that for plain English?