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Amongst the container lines, the two frontrunners on online digital container freight sales are Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd through their offerings Maersk Spot and Quick Quotes.

Please note, that over the past week, my LinkedIn updates have begun to focus on the impact of the pandemic – the 1.7Million TEU impact was related to the impact in China before it became clear that it became a pandemic in the rest of the world. With the drastic shut-down in the past few days this is now also changed toa worst case where it might be as much as 17 million TEU – the same 10% impact as we saw during the financial crisis.

Maersk has just released their annual accounts and given new data on the progress of their online spot sales. Hapag-Lloyd did not publish such data in their preliminary annual accounts, but I have this week approached them and asked, and they have agreed to also share data on the uptake of online freight sales.

Maersk is at a point where 24% of their spot bookings are now made through Maersk Spot. As Maersk approximately has 50% of their business on the spot and 50% on contract, this indicates uptake of 12% of their total business has moved online. This is up from 12% of spot bookings a quarter ago – i.e. a doubling of the run-rate. It should be noted that a very small minority of these bookings are made through EDI and not on the online platform – it is a temporary feature allowing some customers to use existing tools/processes.

Hapag Lloyd’s Quick Quotes is as per February 2020 at 11% of Hapag-Lloyd’s total weekly volume. For full-year 2019 Hapag-Lloyd informs that 987.000 TEU – equal to 8.2% of their total volume – was booked through Quick Quotes. This is up from 278.00 TEU in 2018.

Hence, we are at a point where the weekly run-rate on actual online bookings out of the total business is essentially the same for Maersk and Hapag Lloyd. Hapag is at 11% and Maersk is at 12% whereof a small fraction which comes over EDI.

This development once again highlights the pressure on all carriers and forwarders alike to ramp up own capabilities in this arena. It is becoming very simple: Either you ramp up your own offerings, or you risk losing access to a significant amount of the cargo.

Lars Jensen is a leading expert in the container shipping industry. He is the CEO of SeaIntelligence Consulting, that provides specialized consultancy services for all stakeholders in the container shipping industry, with expertise in strategy, process management, market intelligence, digitization and training.

Photo: Pixabay

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