Forwarders soon to offer real-time pricing to shippers through WebCargo

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WebCargo is in the process of launching a new service that will enable freight forwarders to offer shippers live rate quotations and real-time capacity, and allow shippers to finalise bookings themselves.

The new service allows forwarders to send through PDF quotes for the services that the shipper has requested that includes access to real-time pricing and capacity.

This means shippers can select the exact rate and service that suits their needs and make the booking themselves rather than going back and forth with the forwarder and the airline.

WebCargo user engagement specialist Joe Marris said the service is currently being tested by some of WebCargo’s freight forwarder customers.

The service will gradually rolled out to other users over time.

“The feedback has been positive so far with forwarders commenting on the time saving prospect of the dynamic quoting tool,” said Marris.

He added that the quotes can also include static prices to give shippers the choice of making the booking however they feel most comfortable.

“One of the comments we have had is that it will create confidence that the price that is being shown on screen is the price they will pay – it creates trust between both parties as well as saving time” Marris added.

With static prices there is a gap between the rate being issued to the shipper and when the booking is made – sometimes days – and during this time the price from the airline could increase or decrease affecting the quotation.

With the new service, live rates and capacity are pulled from the carriers’ websites through API connections, where available, to give real-time prices.

“The negotiations when a static rate is chosen still need to happen behind the scenes with the airline and the freight forwarder,” said Marris.

“Whereas with the dynamic rate they are guaranteed the price and the booking is locked in as soon as they click the button.”

Chief marketing officer Eytan Buchman said being able to offer both static and dynamic quotations gave the best of both worlds.

“We are at this middle ground where the industry isn’t fully digitised but it isn’t fully static anymore,” said Buchman.

“This is going to be a period that will last a couple of years, where some airlines and freight forwarders will rely on static rates and there will be others that rely on digital rates with the capacity behind them and I think that this is a middle ground solution.”

When asked whether having the shipper pick the rate and service and make the booking themselves would undermine the relationship with the forwarder, Buchman said this wouldn’t be the case.

He said that forwarders offer far more than just sending pricing and that transparency was becoming ever more important.

“I see this much more as helping freight forwarders adapt to the times,” Buchman said. “The real value freight forwarders bring is in relationships and actually moving the cargo and taking responsibility for the cargo.

“I don’t think that is anything a platform can replace or will replace.”

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Damian Brett

Damian Brett
I have been writing about the freight and logistics industry since 2007 when I joined International Freighting Weekly to cover the shipping sector.After a stint in PR, I have gone on to work for Containerisation International and Lloyds List - where I was editor of container shipping - before joining Air Cargo News in 2015.Contact me on [email protected]