The world’s largest container shipping line, Maersk have combined with Alibaba for a new and innovative online system that will allow shippers to book space on vessels.
Reuters reported that the Danish company have teamed up with the Chinese e-commerce giant in a move to bypass traditional ‘middleman’ freight forwarders.
The online booking service officially began on December 22 (2016) and it utilises Alibaba’s OneTouch booking website to offer quick and efficient booking. The service is currently only available to Chinese shippers looking to book goods for passage. OneTouch works to target small and medium-sized Chinese exporters with online services such as customs clearance and logistics, with additional options available for air and parcel delivery.
For Maersk, this appears to be part of the shipping line's strategy to focus on providing digitised and advanced services for customers. There are already plans to launch more pilot programs on third party portals. Maersk also recently announced the launch of a mobile app that allows users to track cargo on the move.
A statement from Maersk that describes the nature of the service said “the initial launch allows existing Alibaba OneTouch users to lock in the price of required cargo spaces on selected routes by pre-paying a deposit amount”. Customarily, shippers would have to go through a freight forwarding process, but this service allows for all of the booking to be done entirely online.
The service is initially only available on eight selected Chinese ports and routes, including Shanghai and Ningbo, but this is intended to be increased in the future.