Wiebe Helder Apr 6, 2020 4:00:00 PM 6 min read

Introducing Cargobase Mercado


The World’s First Curated Multi-Freight Mode Marketplace

Isn’t she lovely?
Meet our new baby, Cargobase Mercado.


The Industry Needed A Platform

Logistics tend to cost more for small and medium enterprises than large enterprises. Firstly, SMEs cargo are usually smaller and of more irregular frequency. Secondly, SMEs often lack international freight shipment experiences. Logistics costs can account for over 15 percent of their overall revenue.

Even though choice is a beautiful thing, with over 40,000 forwarding and logistics companies worldwide, the struggle to identify the most ideal logistics partner is real. SMEs often defer to a logistics partner they know, i.e. a Top 50 Freight Forwarder or “their local” a local logistics company within the same zip code. And both options lead to increased freight cost when the shipment is international, due to margin-on-margin structures.

Imagine this. You’re a SME based in Frankfurt, Germany and you’d like to ship 100,000 rubber duckies over from Suzhou, China, by regular airfreight. You either reach out to the local office of the freight forwarder, or your local logistics partner who lives down the lane, both who will in turn take on the middleman role, and reach out to their overseas office or agent to request for pricing. They slap on a reasonable commission, and pass on the cost to you. And that’s just one layer of margin on your rubber duckie shipment. Add-on additional margins, and you can see how shippers can sometimes rack up on mark-ups… easily up to a whopping 60%.


“In the early days of Cargobase, even our team was shocked by the disparate difference in pricing offered by various logistics providers for exactly the same service. They offered the same pick up date, freight mode (even same flight or ship) and delivery date, but total quotations varied from $10K to $50K…”


The SME may not have the network or means to locate a local agent, and besides, many major freight forwarders may not even accept business from an overseas-based company, often directing them back to freight forwarders’ local offices.


So We Built One

With Cargobase Mercado, we help SMEs zero-in on that ideal overseas logistics partner. Our proprietary platform is able to measure Freight Forwarders’ KPIs and true capabilities, such as freight modes offered, preferred lanes and industry experience, and suggest matches based on provider’s capabilities meeting shipper’s deliverables. The result is a World’s-First Curated Multi-Freight Mode Marketplace.


SMEs also tend to hold back on exploring overseas believing they might not possess the knowledge to manage such shipments. To address this concern, we have put a process in place to ensure information submitted is correct and complete before it is sent across to logistics providers to invite them to quote. This can save providers a lot of precious time; which we know in the world of logistics is considered a currency.

The logistics providers get opportunities served on a silver platter; they get all the info they need to put a quote together. If they are unable to participate, they can decline the request, and someone else will get automatically get invited to quote. Cargobase Mercado is set up to return at least 3 quotations per request – an industry standard that our Fortune 500 customers expect – and we are extending this same standard to SME users.


“If you want to make a marketplace work, you need to have full grasp of both sides of the “supply and demand” coin. Having worked for a logistics provider myself, I can totally empathise with the ‘disdain’ providers might harbour for the “rise of” freight marketplaces; The threat of shrinking margins, the demand for transparency, the immediacy of response, and the need to “get with the times” and go digital. But at the same time, I have seen how effectively logistics providers who embrace this disruption are gaining new business. Truly understanding logistics providers’ organizational setup, as well as their concerns, forms the heart of our success today.”


5 Years And 50,000 Shipments Later…

We spent the past five years working alongside Fortune 500 shippers and their logistics providers, mostly Top 50 Freight Forwarders, to fully automate the complex process of quoting, tracking and invoicing freight.

This gave us a front-row seat and first-hand experience at navigating the challenges faced by both shippers and providers. These insights formed a foundation for us to develop a win-win solution that will benefit both parties.

We have just crossed the 50,000 shipments mark, and are proud to coincide this milestone with the launch of Cargobase Mercado, our online curated freight marketplace.


“It has been a thrilling and fascinating journey getting up to this point. I always knew that attempting to change the logistics industry would take time and effort, but working with a great team of professionals that share the passion to make a positive change to a $3.2 trillion industry, makes the ride a little less bumpy. There’s much to journey ahead, but for the first time in five years, I’m taking in a little bit of the scenery. I’d like to thank our team, investors and partners for joining this “freight delivery” journey. Here’s to the next 50,000 shipments.”

— Wiebe Helder, CEO, Cargobase


Wiebe Helder

Wiebe is the CEO at Cargobase with over 13 years of experience in the logistics and supply chain industry. Connect with him on Linkedin.