Although various carriers are intensifying their efforts to digitise some of the transactional parts of their business, it is still unclear if technology will finally transform the container shipping industry, according to Alphaliner.
About half of all bookings for container shipments continue to be made manually, while up to a third of shipping invoices are reported to contain errors despite the introduction of e-commerce capabilities by shipping lines more than 15 years ago.
Since the first generation of shipping portals was launched in 2000, the container shipping market has not seen any transformative change in the way business is conducted, Alphaliner informed. The three main multi-carrier shipping platforms – INTRA, GT Nexus and CargoSmart – provide only basic software service solutions to handle cargo booking, shipping instructions, track & trace and exception management and reporting.
“Various attempts to introduce new e-commerce platforms and create a digital marketplace for container shipping have flopped, with notable failures including Maersk’s youship.com and UBM/JOC Group’s JOC Exchange,” Alphaliner said.
Even Alibaba’s recent partnerships with several carriers, including Maersk, CMA CGM, Zim and Evergreen, to offer online freight booking since the end of 2016 “have generated very little volumes, despite the initial fanfare.”