- MSC is launching instant quotes through its myMSC platform to allow customers to get quotes in less than a minute on container bookings 24/7, the carrier announced in a press release.
- The instant quote option will only be available on trade lanes from North America to Europe and from Asia to Europe. The carrier plans to expand the offering throughout the year. The service can be used to book standard-sized (20- and 40-foot) and high cube (40- and 45-foot) dry containers, according to the release.
- "The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the trend towards digitalisation within the industry and the importance of engaging customers through multiple platforms, including through e-business," MSC Chief Digital and Information Officer Andre Simha said in a statement.
The process of booking ocean freight has become increasingly digitized over the last couple of years. MSC is joining the ranks of CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd and Maersk with online instant quoting and booking.
And shippers appear to be using the digital services once they're introduced. Maersk said 59% of its bookings came through its website and 24% of spot booking came from Maersk Spot at the end of 2019, according to its 2019 annual report.
In 2018, Hapag-Lloyd said it planned to "increase the share of the online business via the web channel to 15 percent of Hapag-Lloyd’s overall volume by 2023." Hapag-Lloyd CEO Rolf Habben Jansen has said customers have commented that online processes makes booking easier.
"Instant online experience is gaining traction," Philippe Salles, the head of e-Business, transport and supply chain at Drewry, told Supply Chain Dive in an email. "The target of 15% of volume may be well be achieved earlier than 2023. It reveals that there is no drastic technology disruption but incremental changes."
The majority of MSC's bookings are still handled offline, and the carrier said in the release that "it can take some time to complete a booking" with the current process. MSC said automating the process would help reduce room for error and improve booking efficiency.
"It requires more process engineering capabilities, transparency and acceptation of more compliance at the quote and booking stage," Salles said, adding that it would lead to an evolution of rate filing regulations and make cargo declarations more dynamic and accurate. "It is an important industry change."
A carrier's ability to implement instant quotes relies on its technological maturity when it comes to rate management, customer segmentation and capacity management, Salles said. "It reflects both process engineering and technology evolution performed at MSC," he said of MSC's announcement of instant quotes.
The instant quote feature joins other features on myMSC including document submission and retrieval, submission of shipping instructions and shipment tracking, MSC said