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Port Report: Maersk debuts new online booking for ocean freight

New service goes beyond offering quotes to a guaranteed space on a voyage.

( Photo: Maersk )

Maersk rolled out a fully online service for customers to book space on a container ship.  

The new offering, Maersk Spot, provides customers a port-to-port cargo loading guaranteed at a fixed price upfront. It is

The world’s biggest shipping line said the new product addresses fundamental inefficiencies that exist across the industry such as the lack of guaranteed space on a container ship and the potential for cargo to be rolled to another, later voyage.

“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,” said Silvia Ding, Global Head of Ocean Products at Maersk. “With Maersk Spot, we provide full visibility of the price and terms that will ensure cargoes get on board. Ultimately allowing customers to move their cargo in a much simpler and more reliable way.”

Maersk has made digital efficiency in booking ocean freight a priority over the last year after Chief Executive Soren Skou noted the “at times, quite painful” process of booking ocean freight. 

Its Damco freight forwarding subsidiary offers online booking of door-to-door moves through its Twill offering. Maersk is also offering online customs clearance for shipments to Europe.

The Maersk Spot offering has online access to the liner operator’s ocean freight rates. The all-in price is calculated and fixed when the booking is confirmed, which happens instantly. This online pricing fixed at booking creates one transaction for the customer from quotation to booking confirmation.

“Maersk Spot radically simplifies the buying experience for our customers. Today’s offline process can be up to 13 individual steps, often involving a lot of communication and paper work 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,” said Ding.

When a booking is confirmed by the customer, Maersk commits to load and grants certainty in operational execution. In case of booking cancellations, fees apply at the customer’s charge. If cargo is rolled, Maersk compensates the customer. 

Maersk said more than 3,000 unique customers have used the new service weekly, with already over 50,000 containers booked in the second quarter.

“This is a mutual commitment between the customer and Maersk which ensures that the vicious cycle of overbookings is addressed,” Maersk said in a statement. 

Maersk Spot is now available on all trades, except in and out of U.S. But Maersk said it has filed a petition with the Federal Maritime Commission to offer the service in the U.S., potentially by the end of the year. Currently available as beta site, the product will be implemented on at the beginning of August.

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