Maersk has introduced a series of digital tools over the last couple of years, including digital customs clearance and instant booking. And last year, the carrier stood up Maersk Spot, which allows shippers to compare rates and book freight online.
Many customers have quickly adopted the digital offerings, with Maersk Spot accounting for 24% of spot volume by the end of 2019 and 59% of the carrier’s bookings coming through Maersk.com, according to the carrier’s most recent annual report. For exports out of North America, 98% of bookings are made electronically, a company spokesperson told Supply Chain Dive in an email.
“We wanted a level that would adequately incentivize customers to use our electronic tools,” the spokesperson said. “The different charges reflect the level of activity required to manage manual requests during the shipment lifecycle.”
Sending amendments through electronic data interchange or Inttra are listed as suitable electronic filing methods along with the company’s website.
The manual fees will not apply when a change is needed due to a mistake by Maersk or if the electronic channels can’t handle the needed amendment. The documentation amendment fee will not apply to change of destination requests nor the submission of payer and payterm amendments, according to Maersk.
The introduction of the fee for manual processing is not unprecedented in the world of ocean shipping. Hapag-Lloyd and ONE Line implemented manual booking fees in 2018 and 2020, respectively.
Maersk says the increased digitization of the shipping process will make it more efficient for customers, but cybersecurity will be considered a risk factor for the company as its business moves online. The carrier says it has taken multiple steps to improve cybersecurity since a formal assessment in 2017 and plans to complete a full cybersecurity plan implementation by the end of 2020, according to its annual report.
The company spokesperson said Maersk will reinvest the fees collected from shippers into digital tools to continue to improve the process.