- Maersk Line will offer instant booking and confirmation on nearly all cargo shipments by mid-2019, CEO Søren Skou told attendees at TPM 2019 in Long Beach, California. The carrier introduced an online instant booking platform in November 2018.
- Maersk cut down the time needed to confirm documentation for digitally booked freight shipments from eight hours to about two hours, Skou said. The CEO hopes for one-hour documentation confirmation next year.
- "We take 99% of bookings in digital form," Skou told attendees.
Analysts have lauded Maersk for its forward-thinking digital strategies among ocean carriers. The industry as a whole is slow to digitalize, a fact openly acknowledged by shippers, carriers and freight forwarders alike at the TPM 2019 conference. Anne-Sophie Zerlang Karlsen, Global Head of Reefer Management for Maersk Line, even likened ocean carriers to dinosaurs.
Slowly but surely, as the pace of ocean freight goes, carriers are beginning to recognize the benefits of digital processes.
On the sidelines of the conference, Freightos CEO Zvi Schreiber told Supply Chain Dive that digital freight booking, whether on platforms like his or directly through Maersk, creates better customer service.
The customer-centric model is one Maersk has tapped into recently. It is looking at solutions that aim to resolve shipper pain points and reduce complexity in the supply chain, Skou said.
One strategy is to become a one-stop-shop for shippers as a provider of end-to-end supply chain solutions. Maersk has aimed to do so by divesting parts of its business tangential to logistics and shipping, such as oil drilling, while beefing up related segments, such as its merger with Damco.
CMA CGM seems to be pursuing a similar position of end-to-end service provider as it bought shares in CEVA logistics and launched an offer for control of the remaining shares.
Maersk is in the process of transforming to becoming the global integrator of container #logistics, providing customers with end-to-end #supplychain solutions. Søren Skou is speaking with @PeterTirschwell at #TPM2019. #readyforanything pic.twitter.com/v7oPot0ZDj— Maersk (@Maersk) March 5, 2019
Maersk also wants to resolve the pain point of low visibility — a longstanding source of tension between cargo owners and carriers. Shippers at the conference voiced complaints of cargo rolled over without reason or notice and a lack of schedule reliability.
"Customers will get better insight into their supply chains, and Maersk will save costs," Skou said of increased visibility. Maersk's ability to offer digital and instant bookings for the vast majority of customers also indicates a level of internal visibility at the carrier. Though instant booking does raise some concerns about the role of freight forwarders and whether the carrier's push toward end-to-end solutions could phase out the middlemen.
Typically in the past, Maersk directed small- and medium-sized shippers to forwarders, Skou said, because the shipping line didn't have the resources or manpower needed to manage them. But that's changing, with shippers of all sizes able to book directly with Maersk, he said.
Still, forwarders book just under half of Maersk's business, according to Skou, indicating the forwarders may be more like partners than competitors.