What ‘going digital’ means for charterers

5 August 2020

Why Charterers do not need to fear the loss of complexity when it comes to digitalisation.

Smart decision making is everything to charterers. How and when they ship their cargo is intrinsically linked to profitability and, make no mistake, errors can cost millions. In this context, the services provided by brokers – particularly analysing and prioritising copious amounts of information – are invaluable.

As digital transformation continues to shake up every corner of business, it’s opening up new possibilities in the charterer-broker dynamic. A charterer could now, if they wanted to, access the same insight as a broker and own the deep dive into data. But it’s not likely to become the norm.

Why not? Well, the mortgage industry offers some good parallels. A few years ago, the emergence of price comparison sites and mortgages available from supermarkets undoubtedly gave consumers more choice, but did little to halt the domination of brokers. People value intermediaries who have the time and expertise to examine data and make informed recommendations. Whilst a rudimentary comparison, it’s no different in shipping.

The real value charterers get from digital transformation is through more effective working practices. As an industry we should celebrate the ease, simplicity and efficiency that digital technology brings with it rather than fearing the loss of complexity.

Take charter parties, which have always been something of a headache to finalise. Ts&Cs for a fixture are deliberated back and forth over email and other channels, meaning compliance teams often need to copy and paste wording from different places into legal documents. That’s not only time consuming but it leaves the whole process open to human error. Our Sea/contracts module provides a new way to get charter parties arranged with an audit trail of changes hosted in one central place.

It’s the same story with voyage performance analysis. In days gone by, charterers, brokers and ship owners would spend hours compiling lengthy spreadsheets, and would see little evidence of how the information was used by their companies, and any conclusions that were drawn were based on out of date information. Our Sea/gateway module removes the need for manual data entry and gives fast, accurate, customisable reporting on voyage performance – in real time – to learn from the past and plan for the future.

Meanwhile, Sea/futures is a game-changer for traders who now have a single view of all their futures rates in place, automatically populated, allowing them to review, compare and make the best decision against their trading strategy. Previously, this would have been flicking between different screens, emails, or – you guessed it – more manual copy and paste into spreadsheets.

Digital transformation is all around us. At its most powerful, it streamlines processes, saves time and solves problems. But only people who embrace it realise these benefits. Is today the day for your business? Trust us, it might be the smartest decision you ever make.