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The top 3 challenges for charterers

Sedna is making a major move into chartering with the launch of Pulse, a new product to streamline data into a single, consolidated view in the email inbox for charterers to cut through the noise and fix with confidence.

A joint event between Sedna and ZeroNorth - highlighting Pulse - is taking place in Copenhagen this week, adjacent to the Smart Maritime Network SMAGIC23 conference which Sedna will also attend.

We spoke with Alex Crooks, Group Product Manager at Sedna to learn more about the challenges charterers currently face in a world of high data volume and low-margin business needs.

The email inbox is a major source of intelligence for charterers. Most day-to-day communication is done through email and chat and this includes valuable data about potential opportunities. 

A charterer’s aim to find and act on the best fixtures is underpinned by thousands of emails every day and it is hard to find the insights they need to act confidently. 

There are common challenges which make finding cargo or ships - and negotiating an advantageous price - one of the most complex undertakings in the maritime supply chain.

1 - Lack of information

There are so many factors that determine whether an opportunity is suitable or not, and the data changes often. This information is often buried in the email inbox or spread out between systems that charterers use. This makes it harder to get a full view of opportunities while they work against the clock. 

“Let’s say a shipowner has 500 vessels in different locations all around the world. Some are on contracts and some are not. The shipowner’s goal is to get those vessels booked for as many days of the year as possible, at the best rates possible. But it is not as simple as finding cargo that’s ready to be loaded onto those vessels at a certain port. Many criteria are involved and the price needs to be right for the charterer to act.”

Alex Crooks, Group Product Manager, Sedna

They must consider the type of cargo, vessel volume, safety ratings, fuel levels and costs, whether the vessel can travel to a certain country, if it can even fit in the port, when everything is available to move and at the bottom line how much it will cost. 

There is an added layer of relationships. Shipping is a highly relationship-based industry, so charterers are also considering who they like to work with, who has a good reputation and who they have previous agreements with. 

This only scratches the surface of what charterers are juggling while under pressure to make advantageous deals before their competitors do. 

With traditional email as the throughline for this process, information is buried and siloed, creating a barrier to swift action. 

Charterers desire a more diverse view of market conditions because it would give them a competitive advantage. It’s about maintaining relationships and closing with speed and this is  driven by real time data and communication. 

2 - System fatigue

There is another major barrier to getting deals closed quickly, in addition to the sheer volume of information charterers consider during the fixture process: it doesn’t live in one place.

A lot of data is shared back and forth through poorly formatted email blasts from various stakeholders who have current lists of ship positions or cargoes. But a lot of the vital context is drawn from other tools. 

Throughout the day, charterers are consulting dozens of systems to find out if a fixture will work for their business. They’re leaving the email inbox to check port databases and vessel management systems, and checking systems with vessel ratings and fuel prices.

Each switch between systems takes time, even if a couple minutes, taking away time which could be spent negotiating and closing.

Having so many systems to check can get confusing. It leaves room for duplicated data and manual human error which slows down the fixture process and impacts the bottom line.

3 - Missed opportunities 

In fast-moving industries like maritime, charterers are no stranger to high volumes of information. With hundreds or thousands of emails coming in per day, it is impossible to triage this scale of information through traditional email. Buffering search, system crashes, poor on-the-go portability and lack of transparency impacts entire teams and businesses. 

When charterers have to spend time digging through incoming emails and checking other systems for information, they're more likely to miss out on commercially advantageous deals. 

“30 seconds can mean losing a million dollar deal in the chartering world," says Alex.

Enter: Pulse for charterers

Sedna understands the challenges that charterers face day-to-day, preventing them from getting work done efficiently and successfully.

We are taking a big step into the chartering space with the launch of Pulse. This new product is a data layer sitting on top of the email inbox, triaging messages and connecting to a wider ecosystem of tools. It then presents the information in a simpler and more organised way so that charterers can fix vessels with confidence. 

“Having a broad sense of what’s going on in the market with key info at your fingertips means you’ll be able to close before anyone else even places a bid,” Alex puts simply. 

Currently being used by some existing Sedna customers before a wider launch, we are helping companies respond quicker to potential opportunities, stay ahead of the competition and give precious time back so that charterers can instead concentrate on closing opportunities.

Learn more about Pulse and join the waitlist.

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