- A.P. Moller - Maersk announced Monday the launch of a digital customs clearance platform, claiming it is the first container shipping company to offer such a service.
- Pricing for import and export customs declarations is displayed online, eliminating the need for Maersk to provide shippers with a quote and "saving three to five minutes per quote," said Vincent Clerc, Chief Commercial Officer of Maersk, in a press release.
- The platform has initially launched in Germany, France, Denmark, The Netherlands, Poland, the U.K. and Spain, after a nearly two-year pilot in Germany. The carrier plans to expand its offering globally by the end of this year.
Maersk's addition of online customs clearance is the latest move in its quest to become a one-stop-shop for shippers.
"It saves our customers time, money and headaches reducing the number of intermediaries they deal with from three or four to just one," Clerc said.
The world's largest container line has been refining its business over the past several years to become more customer-centric, with a focus on logistics and supply chain.
Maersk spun off its oil and gas drilling business earlier this month and sold its oil production and exploration business to Total two years ago. The Danish carrier acquired Vandegrift, a customs broker, earlier this year.
Perhaps the clearest indication of Maersk's renewed focus on logistics was its merger with Damco at the beginning of 2019. Maersk called the merger the "next step" in becoming a "global, integrated container transport and logistics company."
Damco will manage the customs clearance process, according to a Maersk tutorial video on how to add import or export clearance to online bookings.
Maersk's reduction of intermediaries for shipper customers has raised concerns about the future of freight forwarders and their role in the ocean freight booking and customs clearance processes.
At last month's TPM conference in Long Beach, California, Maersk CEO Søren Skou said forwarders still book about half of the container line's business, an indication forwarders may act as partners to Maersk more so than competitors. The container line is booking directly with more small- and medium-sized shippers, however, whereas previously they were directed to work with forwarders.
Adding customs clearance online also furthers Maersk's position as one of the digital leaders in the ocean freight industry. The carrier allows instant online booking on many shipments, is exploring the use of blockchain with its solution TradeLens, and recently formed the Digital Container Shipping Association, along with Hapag-Lloyd, MSC and ONE.
"We welcome the possibility to have all customs house brokerage documents uploaded on the internet platform (quick plus easy handling)," Robert Weber, with manufacturer Neenah Gessner, stated in Maersk's announcement.