Online freight marketplace Freightos.com said Monday it has expanded its online business-to-business platform, enabling buyers and sellers to complete an e-commerce transaction without being required to visit the logistics provider’s website to do so.
The platform, which Hong Kong-based Freightos calls “freight-as-a-service,” allows companies in the business-to-business (B2B) ecosystem to place an order, view shipping options and prices, and manage the delivery’s progress as if they were consumers ordering on sites like Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN). A key difference in the enhanced model, said Eytan Buchman, Freightos’ chief marketing officer, is that the platform will be embedded in the sellers’ sites so buyers can consummate the transaction without leaving the site.
Until now, a business would place an order on the seller’s site and then switch to, say, FedEx Corp.’s (NYSE:FDX) website to arrange for the shipping and logistics, Buchman said. Now, FedEx’s shipping capabilities are available to the buyer at the time of checkout, he said.
Using automated programming interface (API) technology, customers can receive immediate information on global air and ocean services across the air, ocean and trucking modes, Freightos said. The idea is to integrate the networks of multiple logistics providers and Freightos’ technology into a series of APIs that provides the same level of convenience, accuracy and transparency for pallet and container shipments that consumers have come to expect at checkout for their package deliveries, Buchman said.
At checkout, a B2B buyer enters a shipment’s destination. The website sends an API message to Freightos and receives shipping and logistics options across a network of providers, Buchman said. The shipping transaction can be booked directly at checkout with documentation provided in real time from the B2B website operator or the customer, Buchman said. This would be followed by shipment management and tracking via the seller’s website or on a co-branded Freightos portal, he said.
Freightos’ move is the latest attempt to extend the tools long available in the business-to-consumer (B2C) fulfillment world to global B2B, which is about six times the size of the B2C market but has long lagged in digitization. A continued reliance on manual transactions leads to delays in price discovery, bookings, tracking and customs clearance and stunts the potentially explosive growth of B2B e-commerce, Freightos has argued.
Online marketplace Shopify (NASDAQ:SHOPIFY) operates an alliance with UPS Inc. (NYSE:UPS) in which UPS’ logistics tools are embedded into the websites of Shopify’s merchant customers to provide buyers with convenience and instant access to delivery information. In September, e-commerce platform eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY) began allowing its sellers to print UPS shipping labels directly from the eBay platform rather than switching to UPS’ site to perform the task. In exchange, sellers receive discounts on UPS’ second-day air and ground service, including the possibility of having package surcharges — costs added on to the basic pickup and delivery charge — waived or discounted, eBay said at the time.
The Chinese B2B giant Alibaba Group (NASDAQ:BABA) uses Freightos as its digital freight partner so that buyers and sellers can consummate logistics transactions once orders have been placed. Alibaba, which matches buyers and sellers but works with Freightos and a network of physical distribution providers, is focusing its efforts on small to midsize businesses that have never had access to digital freight tools. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many of these businesses to pivot almost overnight to the digital world after their physical businesses were shut down due to the virus.
Freightos is focusing the enhanced platform on the SMB marketplace, but the platform can be utilized by virtually all sizes of businesses, Buchman said.