- French carrier CMA CGM has launched instant quotes on spot rates and real-time access to contract rates for shippers, as part of a suite of digital applications called eSolutions.
- The new solutions also include electronic booking, digital bills of lading, geotracking of cargo and online payments. "Customers will have the possibility to experience a 100% digital journey when they choose CMA CGM to transport their goods," the shipping line said in a press release.
- In addition, CMA CGM will offer "priority boarding" and secured cargo space for customers through the digital platform. The service will begin on India-Europe routes and gradually expand to other countries and routes.
➡️ePricing— CMA CGM Group (@cmacgm) April 25, 2019
➡️eBill of Lading
And it’s only the beginning…
Discover the new functionalities offered by CMA CGM eSolutions, the 100% digitized road to market > https://t.co/zw52dcX1So#shipping #digitalization #CustomerExperience pic.twitter.com/C9VmRp169y
Online booking, electronic payments and real-time shipment tracking may not seem like novel concepts, especially in the B2C world. Consumers have the ability to track their e-commerce package deliveries, and online booking and priority boarding have long been a keystone of passenger air travel.
For the ocean freight industry, however, digitization is still considered "a lever for growth, differentiation and performance," CMA CGM said in a press release. The industry, often reliant on long-standing relationships and negotiations, is notoriously slow to jump on the digital bandwagon and has even been compared to dinosaurs due to its conservative approach to technological change.
But the tides are shifting and more carriers are moving toward a digitally focused strategy. In fact, CMA CGM CEO Rodolphe Saadé named digitization as a key strategic priority for the company. CMA CGM launched instant quotes and online booking through Freightos last December.
Last summer, Hapag-Lloyd launched Quick Quotes, an online tool giving shippers a container shipment quote "within seconds." The carrier hears from customers its online tool and automated processes make it easier to do business, CEO Rolf Habben Jansen told reporters at TPM in Long Beach, California, last month.
Maersk introduced an online instant booking platform last fall, and the CEO promised shippers instant booking on the majority of shipments by mid-2019.
These three carriers remain the only major container lines to offer instant quotes online. Still, it's a major improvement from August 2018, when Hapag-Lloyd was the only one of the six largest carriers able to provide instant quotes online.
CMA CGM's introduction of priority boarding and guaranteed space also seeks to solve historically tense shipper-carrier dynamics. Shippers complain cargo is rolled over too often and carrier schedules lack reliability. The carrier side of the story is shippers don't accurately forecast cargo, leaving carriers no choice but to adjust shipments accordingly.
"With a secured space on board for their container, customers will be able to plan more efficiently their supply chain thus enhancing their business and efficiency towards their own customers," CMA CGM said.