Agorafreight.com — the first Russian digital international freight forwarder

The service for the online price calculation (including door-to-door rates) and ordering the shipping of cargoes (comprising containerized and assorted) by all modes of transport.

The story of the www.agorafreight.com project is told by the eCommerce Solutions Manager at Reksoft Vadim Kairov.

Now, Agorafreight is a promising logistic startup. There are no multimillion financing rounds, publicity and journalists surrounding it yet but we really hope that everything is still ahead.

Prior to our meeting with the customer — CEO of the “Aistlogistika” freight forwarding company Vitaly Grekov — we at the Reksoft company had no clear understanding of transport logistics but had strong competencies in developing marketplaces and high load websites (such projects as OZON.RU, S7, okeydostavka.ru etc.). The main players of the transport logistics market are freight forwarding companies which organize transportation of goods (including multimodal) by different modes of transport. For example, when a cargo needs first to be carried to a port for subsequent shipping by sea, then customs cleared in the port of destination and delivered to the final consignee by road. Freight transportation options may vary.

This is how a freight forwarder uses to work: after receiving a request from a client for shipping a cargo from point A (the consignor’s address) to point B (the consignee’s address), he contacts by email all the carriers he knows in the respective destinations, picks the best price, puts together the entire logistics chain and sends a commercial proposal to the client. Sometimes, the spread of rates quoted by different shipping companies reaches 30% and, on top of it, air and sea freight rates may change daily. Not surprising that logistics departments of freight forwarding companies spend up to 70% of their working time on preparing commercial proposals for their clients using the e-mail as their main working tool which is absolutely archaic.

Therefore, when the customer has set us the task which can be briefly described as planning the route for shipping a cargo from and to the specified locations by a few means of transport, calculating the cost of such a multimodal freight transportation and identifying the minimum time or price option, we immediately knew that the project itself was going to be very interesting and ambitious. Interesting first of all because such a solution doesn’t yet exist in Russia. Besides, the task is also challenging from a technological perspective due to the necessity of standardizing heterogeneous data, plotting the graph of the transit itinerary, finding the shortest route in the graph etc.

The task might appear to be simple but this is only at first glance. The problem is that in the market, there are no standard forms for submitting price quotations. Every carrier does it in his own way using an Excel worksheet. On the one hand, all the files are very similar but, on the other hand, they have different sets of columns and tabs as well as dozens of conditions and limitations in the fine print at the bottom of a page. Even those having an API (they are very few) use totally different formats. So, you can imagine what a variety we had to deal with. Geographic names and especially conditionally defined regions that not always correspond to geographic objects represented another difficulty. For example, the Moscow region often includes Moscow though it is a separate geographic area. Therefore, at the initial stage, we had to reduce all that variety of rates and geographic names to a uniform format for further description and usage.

Today, Agorafreight is the “single window” for working with thousands of the best shipping companies and freight brokers all over the world. Under a single contract irrespective of the geography and the modes of transport. Agorafreight assumes full responsibility for the cargo. Logisticians and freight forwarders do not have to spend any more time on sending price quotation requests to a number of companies in order to find the best option. They only need to input the freight parameters and the system will automatically identify potential routes and estimate the time and cost for various freight shipping options. The online quoting is already in place for transportation between China, South Korea, Vietnam, EU countries and the Russian Federation; assorted cargoes and line-haul trucking within the Russian Federation are also supported. Other countries will be added soon. Everything is simple!

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