Maersk launches instant online container booking

Maersk has launched an instant booking system for its container shipping services, aiming to allow customers to book a container online with the shipping company in the same way as one might purchase a flight ticket.

The service will feature instant booking confirmation, a significant improvement on the waiting times of up to two hours experienced with previous booking methods, the company said, removing uncertainty and extra workloads in managing supply chains.

“Instant booking confirmation makes it faster, easier and simpler for our customers to interact with Maersk. It is a milestone for the entire industry and a concrete example of how we are bringing our strategy to life when we improve the customer experience through seamless digital offerings,” said Vincent Clerc, Chief Commercial Officer, A.P. Moller – Maersk.

Customers accessing the portal will be able to see a range of sailing options with available vessel space, a list of depots with empty containers to choose from, and a choice of relevant value added services. Online bookings can also be made via the Maersk App, directly from mobile phones.

“Maersk operates in several markets where mobile phones make up the primary working tool for the workforce. 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,” said Sonny Dahl, Global Head Of Customer Experience & Service, A.P. Moller – Maersk.

Maersk says that the new system should also provide greater certainty that a booking will not be cancelled at a later stage. Issues such as lack of vessel space or equipment availability have previously led to about 10% of bookings placed in Maersk’s systems being either rejected or confirmed for an alternative sailing, which the company notes has traditionally generated a large volume of customer follow up questions and requests for changes.

These follow-up inquiries have accounted for 15% of all Maersk customer service calls and chats, and close to 200,000 e-mails every month, figures which the new system is designed to significantly reduce.

Instant booking confirmation is now available in beta for all customers using the online booking modules for the Maersk Line, SeaLand and Safmarine brands. The functionality is currently limited to dry cargo shipments, with refrigerated cargo, dangerous cargo (IMDG) and inland container yards expected to be added during 2019, the company says.

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Rob O'Dwyer

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