Maersk Debuts Online Booking with No-Rolling Guarantee

File image courtesy Maersk

By The Maritime Executive 06-25-2019 07:26:37

Maersk is rolling out a new online booking service that will give customers a slot on board a sailing at a fixed price, with a guarantee against rolling - a major difference from the typical experience for shippers today. 

“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, in a statement Tuesday. “With Maersk Spot, we provide full visibility of the price and terms that will ensure cargoes get on board."

According to Ding, the offline process of booking a shipment can involve as many as 13 steps and a large volume of paperwork. Maersk Spot will involve only five steps, all completed online, she says. In addition, Maersk guarantees that the cargo will get on board a specific sailing. If the customer cancels - as often occurs under the current business model - they will have to pay a fee. If the cargo gets rolled and isn't shipped within three days, Maersk will compensate the customer (except for instances of force majeure, customer paperwork errors, late gate-in of the cargo and similar circumstances). This compensation fee for rolling is about $75-100 per FEU, depending upon shipping region; the no-show fee charged to the customer if their container fails to arrive at the terminal for loading is about $150-200, according to a terms sheet published by Maersk.

Maersk Spot is available in beta form for all of Maersk's trades, except for shipments in and out of the United States. One early user, The Ramco Cements Ltd. of Chennai, India, says that the service is already solving reliability problems it experienced with traditional booking arrangements. “We are quite proactive about our bookings but there were still cases where our shipments were not loaded due to capacity issues, which resulted in the loss of trust with some of our customers,” said Ramakrishnan Vivekanandan, the company's general marketing manager. “With Maersk Spot, we no longer have the uncertainty of not knowing if we can actually provide our customers with their shipments.”