Cargo.one aims to create differentiation in online booking
08 / 12 / 2022
By Damian Brett
The air cargo booking portals that have emerged over the last few years initially competed on the number of airlines they were able to offer.
But as airlines continue to roll out their capacity across the various platforms, that differentiation continues to narrow.
Moritz Claussen founder and co-chief executive of the cargo.one platform says that the company has been investing in various services and products that he hopes will improve the experience for both airlines and forwarders and create differentiation.
Speeding up the integration of airlines is one key area of investment, Claussen says.
“Our bread and butter is for us to have every airline in the world on the platform and that is a continuous push,” he says.
“Then, integration – we have brought down the time of an integration from six weeks to two months and now, the fastest one is ITA which took us about a week.”
He explains that the time savings have been achieved through the standardisation of the integration process as the company has gained experience working with various cargo management systems.
Data is another area of investment for cargo.one.
“We have invested a lot in data and we still think that is the biggest advantage that we as a platform can provide,” says Claussen.
“We have structured data on how users behave and how users act on the platform. This is data that even an airline with their proprietary platform couldn’t collate because we have users that haven’t made a decision for any one airline when they come to the platform.”
He explains that e-commerce platforms codify user behaviour and can then tailor the offer to better suit users’ requirements.
“We are collecting this information and then we are giving it to freight forwarders to help with their decision making, but we also give it to our airline partners to start thinking about what a good offer looks like.”
He adds: “We can help airlines by thinking about how we create the right offer, at the right time for the right person.
“You might have a customer that is price sensitive so that should be taken into consideration, or you might have a customer that is quality sensitive because they do pharma, so that should be considered.”
On the forwarder side, cargo.one has differentiated by taking an approach where it acts as the first point of contact for customer service.
Claussen says that if there is a problem, forwarder users can contact cargo.one on chat, email for phone for support.
He adds that user experience is also key: “Fundamentally, the game is won, in my opinion, when freight forwarders have a great experience.
“The user has choice, they can go to cargo.one, CargoAi or WebCargo or they can pick up the phone. So, we think having a great user experience is key to adoption.”
A digital journey
Moving onto air cargo’s digitalisation development, Claussen says that the take up of digital booking has continued to accelerate even after the Covid-related boost of the last two years.
He explains that the schedule volatility experienced at the outbreak of Covid and the home working that followed helped push digital demand.
However, he says there are other factors driving the adoption of digital technology.
“People are using online a lot more in their personal lives and so the acceptance of digital in their business life has increased,” he says.
“Now, we are entering a phase where employers are trying to make sure that they can attract/retain staff and digital helps in making a better employee experience because it is an easier way of doing business.
“Also, younger people are coming into the industry and they are more prone to digital.”
He adds that digitalisation can also help with worker shortages by creating efficiencies and therefore companies may require fewer people.
“Then, there is just the marketplace; as we bring on more airlines we have a bigger share of the total booking volume of all of our customers,” he says.
One area of potential disruption to the ongoing march of digitalisation is charging for API calls.
There is debate about whether systems providers should charge for data that is shared over APIs, in a similar way to how cell phone networks used to charge for SMS messages.
Claussen is of the opinion that API calls should not cost money as everyone in the digital supply chain benefits when a company completes a task digitally.
Charging for a process such as conducting a search on a platform could slow the whole development down.
“I have a very strong opinion on this that not everybody will like,” he says. “Fundamentally API calls on cloud-based systems shouldn’t cost anything.
“We are living in a scalable world where API calls are a marginal cost and I’m very much of the opinion that it is wrong for the systems providers to charge airlines and freight forwarders for API calls.”
He adds: “We must be careful. Everyone needs to make money, but it should be for value-adding services and not just for the transaction of a call.”