30 May
Ocean cargo carriers have yet to satisfy most shipper’s needs
By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor · May 28, 2019
As if things were not tough enough for global ocean carriers these days, meeting shippers’ service and contractual expectations continues to decline, according to the third annual shipper satisfaction survey conducted by the London-based consultancy, Drewry and the European Shippers’ Council (ESC).

The 300 shippers and forwarders who took part in the survey rated the service of container shipping lines with a score of 3.1 on average on a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied). This year’s score came in 0.1 lower than last year’s result.

“The survey results reinforce the opinion that more transparency is needed from maritime carriers,” says Jordi Espin, ESC’s maritime transport policy manager. “Service levels, performance targets, market improvements, and price structuring should be set with a focus on clarity and an open observation analysis.”

Shipper satisfaction was reported “least favorable” for clarity on prices and surcharges, transit times, and reliability of booking/cargo shipped, scoring between 2.8 and 3. The carrier service attributes that shippers were the most satisfied with were carrier financial stability, documentation accuracy, and availability of equipment (containers), which received average scores between 3.2 and 3.4.

All the service features were awarded mid-range scores; only 4% of shippers were “very dissatisfied” with carrier services and only 6% were “very satisfied.”

Shippers also said that carrier performance had deteriorated between 2017 and 2018 in four areas: the range of different available carriers; the range of different available services; the price of service; and the overall carrier service quality. However, carrier performance related to sustainability/green and carrier financial stability has improved since 2017, according to the survey respondents.

“It’s very clear that clarity of prices and surcharges has become a key topic for shippers and forwarders, particularly medium-sized shippers,” says Philip Damas, head of the logistics practice at Drewry. “Starting from the 2018 emergency fuel surcharges and continuing with the current uncertainty over post-IMO 2020 fuel surcharges, we expect the conversation between carriers and shippers to remain ongoing in 2019.” 

He adds that in the short term, carriers ought to be more transparent in their new metrics, and comes to this conclusion:
“In the long term, carriers need to address their shipper’s growing needs for predictability and visibility of carrier performance."