Maersk's customers can ow book shipping containers online. Source: Shutterstock

Maersk’s customers can ow book shipping containers online. Source: Shutterstock

Maersk digitizes and simplifies its container booking process

GLOBALIZATION might have blurred the borders and created more opportunities for businesses looking to trade overseas but shipping goods have been a challenge for most exporters and freight forwarders.

Typically, an exporter works with a freight forwarder to make inquiries about the rates to move goods via shipping companies on different routes and destinations. Not only is this tedious and cumbersome but also makes the container booking experience quite frustrating.

Maersk, one of the largest container shipping companies in the world, has just announced that it has taken its entire container booking process online — catapulting them far ahead of competitors as a result.

The company calls the online application Spot and claims it provides customers with a cargo loading guarantee at a fixed upfront price.

For the uninitiated, a cargo loading guarantee is a big deal in the freight forwarding space because it has severe implications for everyone in terms of schedules and holding costs.

When a booking is confirmed by the customer, Maersk commits to load and grants certainty in operational execution. This is a mutual commitment between the customer and Maersk which ensures that the vicious cycle of overbookings is addressed.

In case of booking cancellations, fees apply at the customer’s charge. If cargo is rolled, Maersk compensates the customer.

Through the container shipping giant’s new digital offering, customers can fetch quotes online — an all-in price that is calculated and fixed when the booking is confirmed.

This dynamic online pricing fixed at booking creates one transaction for the customer from quotation to booking confirmation, profoundly simplifying the buying process.

“Today’s offline process can be up to 13 individual steps, often involving a lot of communication and paperwork from rate sheets to terms and conditions and surcharges, etc. With Maersk Spot, this cumbersome process is reduced to five simple and integrated steps – all online,” explained Maersk Global Head of Ocean Products Silva Ding.

According to Ding, the new digital offering Spot also significantly improves the customer’s buying experience.

“It is not uncommon to see overbookings to the tune of 30 percent, and often this leads to rolling of the customers’ cargoes since there is overbooking to compensate for the high downfall. This creates a lot of uncertainty for our customers.”

Since Maersk’s new product enables them to provide full visibility of the price and terms that will ensure cargoes get on board, customers are able to move their cargo in a much simpler and more reliable way.

On the surface, the application seems like an easy way to fix a customer challenge than lingered on for a long time.

However, the reality is that the development of Maersk’s Spot was only made possible by the company’s significant efforts to digitize and integrate its core infrastructure over the past few years.

In the future, more interesting innovations are expected from the Danish maritime and logistics conglomerate as it climbs the digital maturity curve and innovates across businesses.