Tips and tools for ship chartering beginners and professionals alike
The traditional chartering procedures require time and efforts. You need to circulate your position via emails, talk with other professionals continuously, filter hundreds of emails you receive every day, ask for others’ ideas and try to find out whether your ship/cargo is matching with the other cargo/ship. It sounds quite familiar, but when we are talking about modern world with tons of data which are usually stored in our heads – this could be a very exhausted routine. After all, you don’t always find the proper business within time or you don’t have time left for other operations.
OpenSea, a ship chartering marketplace, comes to help you overcome these problems and find the matching business for your ship or cargo within a few minutes. To give you a clearer picture of how it works, we describe the whole process from creating the account up to the conclusion of the first fixture, through the eyes of a new user. Here we go!
Step 1. Create account - Time required: About 1 minute
It is rather easy and quick to create an account in OpenSea. You can register with your LinkedIn account in just 2 clicks or alternatively type your Full name, Business email, Password and your Role (Shipowner, Charterer or Broker). As soon as you complete your details, a validation email is sent in your registered email address. To validate your account, you need to just open this email and press the green button to confirm the email address. This action is required in order to have full access to the OpenSea services (i.e. the positions to become active and shown in the map as well as the ship or cargo to participate in the search engine).
Step 2: Fill in your Profile – Time required: About 2 minutes
After you sign up and validate your email, a welcome popup appears which summarizes the main steps required in order to conclude your first fixture. By pressing the “Let’s begin” button you will move to the “Edit Profile” page where you will need to share some main information about your profile in order to better communicate with other members of our platform.
Your name, role, the email address and the time zone are already completed while you just need to insert a phone number, your company name and address and other optional information such as a skype ID or a company website. The more information you include in your profile, the more credible you will be for potential partners. Also, it is worth to note that a user can’t send an offer without the name of his company and this happens in order to discourage individuals, without substantial background, to become members of our platform and send out offers.
Step 3. Add Position – Time required: About 3 minutes
After you press the “Save” button in your profile page, you will be required to add your ship’s position or cargo inquiry in order to be able to find a perfect match. For adding ship’s position, you will need to complete the ship’s main description (including the dwcc, draft, flag, holds capacity, gears, main dimensions, e.t.c.) as well as the opening location and date. The opened positions will be available in the OpenSea map, and will also appear in automatic search. This also lets shipowners to place their ships with names, because when they express firm interest about a cargo, their counter-party will be informed of the real name without additional requests.
On the other hand, in order to register your cargo, you just need to add a short description of your initial offer and choose all appropriate options. The most interesting here is the fact that you can mention your freight ideas in your inquiry. This will help you attract firm interest from shipowners with close ideas to yours and discourage those whose ideas are far apart. Since all positions are initially provided on a non-name basis, Charterers can safely advise their freight ideas without a risk of being exposed.
Note that, even if there is not a matching business at the time of registering your ship or cargo, a suitable position can be found at any time and in this case both users will be immediately notified. This way the user simply can't miss any good deal or interesting opportunity like it may happen in case he misses one of the hundred emails that he receives in his mailbox.
Step 4. Send an offer – Time required: About 2 minutes
Besides the automatic search, the user can surf through all open positions shown in the map and filter the results. There are four available filtering options. A filter which shows all the positions around the world, a filter which shows the result that “match to my positions”, a filter which shows the results that “match to parameters” and an “open enquiry search”. When the user chooses a matching position, there is the option to “Send offer” by just clicking a relevant button. The main points of the offer are already completed while there is an additional field with free space for supporting text. Furthermore, the user can specify a time limit for the other party’s counter-offer. The user can’t send an offer more often than once per half an hour to the same counter-party. At the time of sending an offer, the user gets available information only about his counterparty’s reputation as well as any feedback from other members. All other information is hidden.
Step 5. Negotiation process – Time required depends on the circumstances and counterparty’s availability. It may vary from few minutes to hours or days
After the offer is sent to the other party, the recipient can see all information about the profile of the sender (the whole card with reputation, feedback as well as the ship’s name) while the sender is waiting for the recipient’s feedback and/or counter-offer. Offer without answer is reflected as “Respond”. If negotiations have already begun, new messages are reflected with the “Discuss” button. New messages and offers are shown both in “My positions” & “Messages” tabs. A few minutes after we sent the offer to the other party, we received an email notifying that a new message has been received. With this, you are confident that you will get all messages or offers without delay even if you are off-line. For your convenience, there is an option to reply via email so you can still fix your ship even on the way. In the chat window is also shown the profile of each party, a card with the offered position and a card with your own position. The attached picture below is self-explanatory.
Step 6. Fix the position – Time required: About 5 minutes
Since there are a lot of variable parameters in shipping industry, it is not unusual a position to change within a few minutes. In case a position which is under firm negotiations changes, the system will notify both parties accordingly for their further actions. A relevant card of a position summarizes the history of all changes and therefore you don’t miss important details anymore.
As soon as you get the STEM and you are ready to conclude the contract, then instead to SEND a new message (in chat), the user presses the FIX button either in the messages or in “My positions” page where he is redirected to the Fixing form. All the work history (including contacts, cards of positions, contract discussions, and documents) are structured and saved in such way that it is available wherever the user is and they can also be exported, if needed. The fixing form which includes all the information of the fixture is shown in the below picture.
Step 7. Feedback
After fixing a business and the voyage is concluded, OpenSea gives users the opportunity to share their reviews in regards with their counterparty’s performance. So the marketplace becomes more transparent, everyone’s performance is known to each other and this way we give people the opportunity to enhance their brands and manage their risk.
This is the quickest way to fix your ship or cargo in our modern world. Let’s summarize what additional value OpenSea provides you: smart search of suitable offers or notification when a matching offer becomes available, cargoes with freight rates in order not to waste your valuable time on unworkable business, supply/demand visualisation of the market, cloud storage with the history of communication & documents as well as freight market transparency. This is the reason that hundreds of companies already use our services. And this is only beginning. More features are coming soon to make ship chartering business technologically advanced and convenient.