It’s rare that you get a three-in-one press release. It’s even rarer to hear actual customers genuinely validate its contents with the words “miracle”, “gamechanger”, and “must-have” in an accompanying video. The air cargo world has every reason to be excited by cargo.one’s latest news, and CargoForwarder Global wanted to hear first-hand from Edward Handscombe, VP Forwarders at cargo.one, about what was being hailed as “the air cargo industry's biggest step forward to date.”
In fact, the digital booking platform has taken three large steps, just that one of them is so revolutionary, it overshadows the other two. The announcement sent out on 12APR23, titled
“cargo.one launches cargo.one pro - the next generation platform for instant quoting and agent-to-agent bookings with global non-payment protection”, informed the freight forwarding
a) cargo.one is now available as a pro version where export agents can upload dynamic rates and offer digital booking of imports to partners and new agents across the world,
b) all pro bookings between agents are now covered by a global non-payment protection plan called cargo.one protect, and
c) the ultimate difference to everything that has ever gone before: import agents, no matter where they are in the world, can now instantly compare and book live import rates from export agents.
An incredible development as underlined by Mike Mierwinski, CFO & CIO of Mid-America Overseas Inc: “When we found out that cargo.one offers real-time import quotes, we were blown away!”, and Hauke Langert, Skyline Express International GmbH, who summarized the true significance for the freight forwarding industry: “Things which normally took 24 hours, 48 hours, are now reachable in seconds. This is unbelievable!”
One step back for a huge step forward
“cargo.one, from the start, set out to simplify, in fact revolutionize, the world for freight forwarders,” Edward Handscombe tells me, explaining how all those working at cargo.one began by doing internships with freight forwarders to identify on site where the biggest pain points are in daily business.
“cargo.one digitized the process for booking into airline capacity. We did a good job of pioneering this and industry has followed.” Certainly, it is hard nowadays to imagine an air cargo world without real-time access to capacities, rates, and schedules, yet that first revolution only began 5 years ago.
Meanwhile cargo.one hosts some 40 airlines. “Once API access was set up, it opened up a host of new innovation possibilities that were previously unthinkable. Our approach was not to simply add incremental changes on top of live airline bookings, but to really step back and look at big step changes we could do to improve the lives of freight forwarders.”
Pioneering a second time
And so, upon visiting forwarders’ offices and seeing the 50-100 emails every morning that they were having to deal with from partners around the world requiring quotes, and the painfully slow copy/pasting of air freight and trucking prices into return emails, only to successfully gain business on perhaps 10% of all quotes, cargo.one established a small team to solve the problem of import quote requests and agent-to-agent bookings.
The resulting solution follows a two-year incubation period, working together with fifty forward-thinking forwarders to build a solution that is truly fit for purpose in the real world. “As with all things that appear simple, huge amounts of effort and thinking have gone into this from both cargo.one and the community of freight forwarders that use it,” Edward Handscombe underlines.
“Also, our focus is on a strong strategy, not short-term development. We are pioneering a new way of doing things for a second time, now, with our real-time import quote solution.”
An explosion of interest
The news has taken the industry by storm. Around 15,000 freight forwarders use cargo.one globally, on a daily basis. Since pro went live on 12APR23 and for which users signing in now have a test access to for a while (until they are asked if they would like to upgrade to and keep pro by paying a monthly fee from EUR 99 per branch, or other favorable rates if the forwarder is a member of a forwarding network participating in cargo.one's Forwarder Network Partner Program), forwarders have shown high interest and quote volumes have exploded.
Asked what percentage of users cargo.one expects to convert to pro, Handscombe replies: “We have products that everyone should benefit from. Time will tell. However, there are very strong signals that this is intriguing, and there is no reason why all 15,000 shouldn’t want to experiment with pro and upgrade, given the value it creates. It’s not just a product for SMEs, but can benefit all sizes of freight forwarder since everyone is trying to solve the same problem.”
Winning business while you sleep
Not only has the cumbersome, time-consuming, and expensive problem of import quote emails been replaced by twenty-four-seven access to rates from anywhere in cargo.one’s 121 countries around the world, but the benefits the new cargo.one pro solutions bring are plenty. Mike Mierwinski stated: “It helps us win business while we sleep.”
Other forwarders reported that they were also securing bookings out of hours through cargo.one, and that they were being approached by agents with whom they had not previously worked, thus reaching new markets, and seeing a substantial increase in their market share. Actually being able to immediately quote rates to local customers whilst still on the phone, as opposed to having to wait for an email response and call back, was an absolute USP and a catalyst to securing more business. With cargo.one protect, too, agents felt reassured and certain to get paid, and stated that they were more likely to work and build relationships with trusted partners in what was turning into a very collaborative, close community. “It’s the safest way to do business,” Handscombe emphasizes.
One huge step for forwarder-kind
“Visit cargo.one and take a look,” is Handscombe’s final message. “We are very proud of the product and sincerely thank those freight forwarders who have come on this journey and made this a reality.” A case of a great deal of small steps over the past two years leading to one huge cargo.one step for the benefit of the entire air freight forwarding industry.
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