Maersk have made no secret of the fact that as a shipping line they are looking to attract big shippers. Systematically updating the way they do business they are positioning themselves closer to a Seafreight integrator than a traditional shipping line. If it is true that an announcement is to come tomorrow (01st november ) that bookings from shippers will take precedence over those marked from forwarders this could see a big change in how business is conducted.
This could be seen as a two pronged approach to becoming an integrator. At the same time as stories begun to emerge that Maersk were re-positioning themselves as a seafreight integrator. More emphasis on Twill.net appeared in advertisements and the press. Twill for those that do not know is Maersk’s inhouse forwarding platform. Back in 2020 Maersk announced that it would absorb Damco into their Maersk logistics and service product. Indeed this service product includes Airfreight/LCL/Trucking/Customs Brokerage/Warehousing and port terminals. As they continue to eye freight forwarders ( Senator International is the latest rumour ) they continue to strengthen their integrator offering. With a heavy investment on their digital platform this now seems to make sense. Removing a well known and respected name from the industry to replace it with a digital forwarding platform.
Seafreight Integrator : Can it work?
As an integrator Maersk could become one of the biggest players within the industry. They are also not the only shipping line heading down this path. French shipping line CMA-CGM own Ceva Logistics. With full vessels and high freight rates you would expect they are watching the Maersk announcements with interest. An integrator that can offer a full freight-forwarding service across all modes of transport in theory could do a lot of damage to the freight forwarding sector. Maersk’s development of an end-to-end logistics strategy has been a long term goal for many years. Acquiring customs brokers and investing in digital platforms like Twill they could become the ultimate seafreight integrator. Large seafreight shippers book direct with Maersk on Maersk flow whereas smaller shippers book through Twill.net. In theory both types of shipper getting the same services using Maersk’s backend customs brokerage and freight forwarding teams.
How will this work in the UK
Maersk have already shown their frustration with the state of shipping in the UK and this announcement could be an issue. Twice this year the UK has been dropped from rotation with UK containers arriving in European ports. Feeder vessels were then utilised to move containers into the UK. Felixstowe has struggled all year with capacity issues and the UK haulage crisis doesn’t help. With shipping lines looking to fill their vessels with cargo from the largest shippers on trade routes which are reliable could the UK become a feeder vessel market.
Maersk presently continue to serve Felixstowe. At the time of writing they show as the ships agent for 3 vessels over the coming week with another 4 covered by Seago Lines their short sea division. As an integrator will the focus be on named vessels or on actual transit times. Integrators as courier companies do not provide flight details, simply routing and approximate transit times. Many shippers are happy to accept this as ultimately their real interest is can they track their cargo and if so will it arrive on time. If an integrator can provide regular transit times that operate promptly and have access to services which fix delays then maybe shippers will buy into it in the long term.