Danish carrier introduces an industry-first booking portal, allowing shippers to book vessel slots at the touch of a button. Dry cargo shipments can be booked immediately via the platform, which is also available via the Maersk App.
Maersk says the new system will make booking a container as easy as booking a flight.
MAERSK Line has become the first carrier to offer customers instant booking confirmation, in a move it says will make booking a container ‘as easy as booking a flight’.
The new booking platform will be rolled out from today, November 1, for dry cargo shipments, while refrigerated and dangerous cargoes as well as inland container yards will be added to the portal from early 2019, according to the carrier.
Maersk Line’s head of customer experience and service Sonny Dahl told Lloyd’s List that the platform was a vital step towards becoming a container logistics company, but also the “biggest breaking point in its digitisation journey”.
“Customers no longer have to sit back and wait to see if their booking is confirmed or not,” he said.
Using the existing manual system, customers have been known to wait for several hours and in some instances several days before they receive booking confirmation. And in Maersk’s case, as many as one in 10 shippers would see bookings either rejected or confirmed for an alternative sailing. Follow-up enquiries accounted for 15% of all Maersk customer service calls and chats, as well as close to 200,000 emails each month.
“Now, they [customers] can decide upfront — based of course on the contract in place or quote given — what are the available booking options and choose on this basis,” said Mr Dahl.
This will also help to eradicate unwanted cargo rollovers, an all-too common bugbear among shippers.
“If there are no available voyages, then they can simply opt not to book,” added Mr Dahl.
According to Maersk, the new solution gives customers “visibility of sailing options with available vessel space, a list of depots with empty containers to choose from and a choice of relevant value adding services”.
More importantly, however, is that customers “get certainty that a booking will not be cancelled at a later stage”.
The statement continued: “Eliminating this delay, as the first in the industry, is a top priority for Maersk because the delay triggers uncertainty and extra workloads in managing supply chains for the customers.”
Mr Dahl revealed that it has been testing the platform on a number of customers for several months, starting with about 10-15 before building this up incrementally over time.
Existing customers will be able to continue using the existing manual process, but the hope is that this will be gradually phased out over time.
“This is what customers have asked for and this is the future of cargo booking. I am convinced of that,” added Mr Dahl.
The new instant booking system will also be made available via the Maersk App, which until recently only had ‘track-and-trace’ capabilities.
“Maersk operates in several markets where mobile phones make up the primary working tool for the workforce,” said Mr Dahl.
“Here, instant booking confirmation straight from the mobile phone will be a huge improvement for our customers’ supply chain managers — it will further enable trade in these markets.”
Instant booking confirmation is available in beta for all customers through the online booking modules of the Maersk Line, SeaLand and Safmarine brands.
The platform will come at no extra cost as part of the existing Maersk customer package.