New software connecting online pricing to better yields for carriers

New software connecting online pricing to better yields for carriers

Half of the top 12 container lines have online quoting capability, but few focus on dynamic pricing and most cannot yet calculate equipment repositioning costs in their rates. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com.

Shipping lines wanting to more effectively price ocean capacity will have access to a yield management system jointly developed by two Australian software providers designed to help carriers with that crucial step toward dynamic pricing. 

The product, called Plimsoll, was developed by Mizzen and Maxamation as part of a dynamic pricing challenge issued this year by container carriers Ocean Network Express and Hapag-Lloyd.

Mizzen is a spot quote technology provider connecting shippers to schedules and rates from 27 shipping lines. Maxamation has provided revenue management software to the airline industry for more than two decades. Both companies are based in Sydney, Australia.

The Plimsoll product aligns Mizzen’s rate and schedule provision capability with Maxamation’s platform, which helps the ship operator forecast and optimize for selling capacity at the best rate.

“Liner trade management is a complex task being made more so by the rapid uptake of the digital channel,” Mizzen managing director Jon Charles said in a statement. “The window of opportunity to respond to changes in market conditions becomes smaller. It is virtually impossible for a trade manager to monitor and react to these opportunities manually. Integration with Maxamation software provides this actionable insight, it empowers trade managers’ decision making with technology.” 

Those that can quote online and those that cannot

The top container lines have forked into two groups: those that can provide instant quotes online to customers, such as Hapag-Lloyd, Maersk Line, CMA CGM, Zim Integrated Shipping, Evergreen Line, and Mediterranean Shipping Co., and the rest of the industry. 

“There is a clear digital divide between the few ‘enabled’ shipping lines and the rest of the market,” Charles said in the statement. “The majority of solutions in the market are focused on bringing efficiencies to the current business practice — essentially doing the same thing but in a digital format. Carriers are not unlocking the full potential of a digital transaction to create new business models that can improve their profitability as well as improve their customers' experience.”

A further delineation in quoting capability splits the market among those offering instant quotes and those that price dynamically. Among those that have instant quote capability, Maersk’s rates via its Maersk Spot product expire in 20 minutes, while the validity of other instant quotes tends to be longer.

Charles told JOC.com Tuesday that a yield management solution based on dynamic pricing requires three components.

“You need trade lane forecasting and optimizing software to guide trade managers on what rate level and how much allocation to sell dynamically on a specific vessel voyage,” he said. “You need trade management execution software to manage and give effect to these optimizing decisions, and you need a customer digital interface to make rate requests, deliver dynamic quotes, and book.”

As Charles wrote in a March commentary for JOC.com, being able to quote dynamically requires container lines to think about their equipment repositioning costs, not just available capacity on a specific sailing. 

Development of the joint product with Maxamation is a further step in commercializing the ability for container lines to weigh factors such as repositioning costs into rate forecasts. Other software providers, such as Kontainers and BlueX Trade, have had success building quoting capability for carriers, but dynamic pricing is not necessarily intrinsic in such tools. Indeed, some lines have said they would not yet price dynamically via their instant quote solutions because it creates unneeded market volatility.

Contact Eric Johnson at eric.johnson@ihsmarkit.com and follow him on Twitter: @LogTechEric.