A freight shipping revolution?
Tech startup hits the big leagues
Freight of your life
Describing his business, founded in 2016, as Expedia for the shipping industry, Zvi Schreiber told the BBC that his background in software and managing an electronics company has set Freightos up for a revolution in the way containers are booked and tracked.
Working "on a daily basis in the shipping of electronics", Schreiber was "shocked by how manual the booking of containers was". With no experience in the logistics of freight shipping, he described his shock when he had to "wait three or four days for a quote - and that was in a major lane". Believing that the booking and transporting process was "like booking a flight", since founding Freightos two years ago, Schreiber has made that a reality.
By air or by sea, by hook or by crook
Now offering a service akin to sites like Expedia, Freightos has updated an "industry that was very twentieth century" and changed an arduous manual process requiring contact with various shipping companies to get a quote into a single, simple comparison.
"There was no track and trace", Schreiber told the BBC this morning, "and we're talking about a very large industry here - hundreds of billions of dollars!
"Half the industry is tied up in annual contracts", he admitted, "the other half - which is still hundreds of billions - is not. The big guys can't predict everything. Walmart or Tesco can maybe predict 80 to 90 per cent, but that's still 10 per cent.
"We do ocean and air, and of course a lot goes by ocean because it's cheaper, but the spend for air is still $80 billion."
Trialling the freight shipping tool
After learning about Mr Schrieber's burgeoning business, which has received over $44 million in its latest funding round, the team at Oil & Gas IQ decided to test Freightos, and see if it delivers on its twenty-first-century promises.
We sign up for a free account with no hassle, go through the rigmarole of verifying our identity, and are then presented with a clear dashboard, defaulted to USD. There is a 24-hour chat function to the bottom right of the screen, US and UK support numbers to the left, and a clear set of questions about our cargo - boxes or pallets? how many? weight and dimensions?
Within five minutes we have requested a pick-up date, delivery addresses, assigned customs brokerage, and described the nature of our shipment. We have over 50 quotes - by air and by sea - almost instantly.
Implications for oil and gas
Whilst Frieghtos cannot be utilised for the shipping of fuels, or for shipments on a scale appropriate for the oil and gas industry, the concept of a marketplace for shipping using a consumer-based, non-industry model has widespread ramifications.
The ability to see hundreds, if not thousands, of logistics providers and operators side-by-side would revolutionise the navigation of the current landscape. To use a single tool for all shipping inquiries would be to truly harmonise the currently disparate parts of a rapidly-changing industry, and put choice firmly back in the user's hands.
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