Developments in the technology over the last 10 years have allowed shipping lines to offer fast quotations but Softship’s latest development of its Pricing Calculator will offer a new dimension in cargo booking and routing as well as develop dynamic pricing models.
Softship, a subsidiary of the Australia-based WiseTech Global, has launched the latest version of its Pricing Calculator which is browser based and will offer carrier customers the option of giving instant quotes over the phone or allowing their customers the option of calculating their own shipping options via a carrier website.
In effect the new system, which is already in use in the US, will allow operators to enter routing options with cargo details and then select the option and price for either port-to-port or door-to-door options for their cargo. If the shipper has a contract, the Pricing Calculator will use the contract details or find a better option for the particular cargo.
In addition, Thomas Wolff, one of two Softship managing directors, told Container News, “The system is likely to change the booking behaviour of shippers, who will have more flexibility and will be able to look for other carrier options.”
He added, “You can book your cargo six months in advance and get a competitive price, without the option to cancel, or book a flexible rate that will allow rebooking, similar to the airline system that has been in place for more than 10 years.”
According to Wolff, most shipping lines still use Excel spreadsheets for their rate cards, so the pricing calculator allows those rates to be loaded into the Pricing Calculator system which is then integrated into the carrier’s booking system. Any change to rates can be done on Excel and reloaded, or it can be added directly to the system via the Pricing Calculator.
Such systems are not entirely new, admitted Wolff, with the Maersk pricing system, called Penny, also in operation, but Softship can offer an off the shelf solution to any carrier or freight forwarder.
“We are part of the WiseTech Global Group and any carrier using the Pricing Calculator can make their rates available to the 14,000 freight forwarder customers that use CargoWise One,” said Wolff.
The advantage of the system is that after entering general customer information, preferred timings as well as load and discharge points, cargo information the system will generate all the possible routing options. As the system offers a selection of routing options the operator can select the preferred option with an analysis of revenues and costs, for the carrier.
Shippers are able to generate the same options online if the carrier wants to make the Pricing Calculator available on its website.
According to Wolff, the system works very fast and once the initial input data is completed the generation of the various routing options can all happen while the carrier’s customer is on the phone.
Carriers on both the West and East Coast of the US are already using Softship’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system with great success, says Wolff. “We have 200 installations already,” he added, the the Pricing Calculator can be readily added to that ERP.