E-commerce back on the agenda

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche
ShipInsight

06 November 2018


It may not yet be at the levels of the early years of this century when every day brought news of a new e-commerce start up or development but this year has seen some significant movement.

In October, Singapore-based Moscord an e-procurement service founded in March this year announced it had recruited Lars Rosenkrands, former CEO of SevenSeas Group and CEO and founder of Wave Shipping, as Commercial Director as it looks to accelerate its drive to become ‘the Amazon.com of shipping’.

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Moscord was founded by former ShipServ VP Freddy Ingemann and has attracted support from a number of shipping companies and suppliers and has consolidated delivery service deals in place with GAC, Steder Group and SG Shipping. Buyers do not pay to use Moscord, which can be integrated into any shipboard purchasing system. All prices on the marketplace include last mile logistics services including delivery to the ships or buyers own hub.

Moscord aims to disrupt established, inefficient and expensive procurement practices by creating a direct connection between manufacturers/suppliers and their customer base. This is achieved through an online maritime market place where users browse, assess and order the exact type and quality of product they need (ranging from consumables, to engine parts, safety equipment, tools and uniforms) without the need to go through traditional ship supply firms.

Last week, Netherlands-based shipbuilder and repairer Royal IHC launched ShipSupport, its new e-commerce platform. The company has joined forces with its network of trusted global suppliers following feedback from its customers about their need for a transparent digital platform.

“Ordering spare parts should be a simple and efficient process, available at all times and accessible anywhere in the world,” said Maaike de Rover, founder and the driving force behind the corporate startup. “Our customers are used to a new kind of digital world. They know how to order products on their smartphone from Amazon or Bol.com. This is what ShipSupport.com is all about. There is no need to be logged in to see our prices or waste time waiting for a quote.

Taking the e-commerce into shipping operations, last week Maersk announced a new instant booking system for its liner services. With the introduction of the service, Maersk customers can now complete their bookings within seconds compared to previous waiting times of up to two hours.

“We are now making it as easy for our customers to book a container as booking a flight ticket. 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.

With the new solution, customers get 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 – they get certainty that a booking will not be cancelled at a later stage. Due to factors such as lack of vessel space or equipment availability, around 10% of bookings placed in Maersk’s systems were previously either rejected or confirmed for an alternative sailing, often spurring customers to follow up with questions and requests for changes. Such follow-up inquiries have accounted for 15% of all Maersk customer service calls and chats – and close to 200,000 emails every month.

With the release of instant booking confirmation, Maersk is also introducing online booking via the Maersk App. Enabling instant bookings directly from the mobile phone is another functionality that has long been high on Maersk customers’ wish-lists, especially in emerging 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 functionality currently covers dry cargo shipments. Refrigerated cargo, dangerous cargo (IMDG) and inland container yards are expected to be added during 2019.