CMA CGM offers carrier-direct container shipping quotes through Freightos

This space for rent as CMA CGM offers capacity online ( Photo: CMA CGM )

New service aims to provide smaller shippers more certainty when booking ocean freight.

France’s CMA CGM says it is offering rates for container shipping through Freightos, a move to offer shippers more certainty in moving freight overseas.

The fourth largest liner operator will allow shippers to search prices and book space directly through the Israel-based company’s online platform. The ocean carrier will initially offer China-U.S. voyages, with other trade lanes possibly being added.

CMA CGM is not guaranteeing a set amount of capacity will be available on Freightos. Rather, it will depend on container space for particular voyages, which will be updated on a real-time basis.

The online quotes mean “you are talking to CMA CGM in real time,” said Zvi Schreiber, chief executive of Freightos. “The amount of capacity is entirely dynamic.”

Schreiber says CMA CGM has quiet selling container capacity through Freightos for a while now to test the service, with upwards of 20 containers having been booked at one time on the Freightos platform.

 (Source: CMA CGM)
(Source: CMA CGM)

Of course, larger shippers will continue to book space directly with CMA CGM. But Schreiber says larger shippers may also tap the service at periods of surge demand or getting product to new market.

The key for the new offering is opening CMA CGM’s network to smaller shippers. Schreiber, who has experience as a smaller shipper, says that customer base faces too much uncertainty in working with ocean carriers.

Freight forwarders may not be able to guarantee customer boxes would be on a particular voyage, and shippers may face last-minute price increases once their box was at the port.

Those risks can wreak havoc on smaller companies looking to source or move products to overseas markets.

“You are booking specific slots and sailings and they are not subject to change,” Schreiber said. “That is too much uncertainty for businesses to operate. ”

A carrier-direct offering may take some business from freight forwarders, who are also major users of the Freightos platform. While the new offering may compress the margin from booking space, Schreiber says forwarders will still be able to stand out through value-added services, such as customs and clearing.

“There are forwarder quotes on our platform that are below the CMA CGM quotes,” Schreiber said.

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Michael Angell, Bulk and Intermodal Editor

Michael Angell covers maritime, intermodal and related topics for FreightWaves. His interest in transportation stretches back several generations. One great-grandfather was a dray horseman along the New York waterfront and another was a railway engineer in Texas. More recently, Michael has written about the shipping industry for TradeWinds, energy markets for Oil Price Information Service, and general business topics for FactSet Mergerstat and Investor's Business Daily. When he is not stuck in the office, he enjoys tours of ports, terminals, and railyards.