The Benefit of Digitilization in the Shipping Industry

The Global Impact of the Shipping Industry Today

According to the International Chamber of Shipping around 90% of all world trade is delivered to us by ships. Some of the vessels used in shipping can cost over $200 million to manufacture & the operation of merchant ships generates a yearly income of over half a trillion dollars/ $500 billion in freight rates.[1]

Keeping all of this in mind it would stand to reason that the industry that provides most of our products should consider digitization. Despite this, the industry has not experienced that much change in years.

The Most Insufficient Points in the Industry

The container industry has been criticized a lot because of the time lost in, for example, administrative duties. Employees use too much time going over paperwork while searching for a correct document for a specific customer. Losing certain documents and having to recover them makes this process even more tiresome and time costly to the company. By average it takes 12 minutes for an employee to find a specific paper document. By going digital, no time needs to be wasted searching for documents – the time can be reduced to just a couple seconds.

The use of cloud-based platforms and marketplaces can help companies become more efficient while saving time and money. Moreover, by minimizing the amount of paperwork companies can become more environmentally friendly.

The other benefits of switching your documents from paper to digital form would be:

–    Increased productivity –    Easy access – anytime, always –    Enhanced security and information preservation –    Saving space –    Staying competitive

By going digital major companies, for example Cisco System Inc., can save several hundred thousand dollars with printing, shipping & labor costs every year.[2]

Another point against the container industry would be the lack of transparency in availability and market prices. Assume that you are a trader in the United States and a customer approaches you. They need fifty 40ft High Cube containers in France, Spain, and Germany. Do you know the market prices and availability of the containers you need?

The Shipping Industry Tomorrow

For huge companies, it is easier to experiment with digitalization than it is for smaller businesses. Big corporations have the money and resources available when smaller ones do not always have the same luxuries. Therefore, it is important to know which digitalization sources and trends to invest in, and what you should skip out on.

However, one shouldn’t discount small organizations when discussing digitalization. More and more startups are emerging that are at the forefront of digitalization for the industry. Small businesses, for example, startups, can invest fully in going digital and have less risk involved, whereas big corporations cannot always restructure their whole business plan to incorporate digitalization as smaller ones can.

There is a tremendous trend of big corporations cooperating with startups, which can be a very powerful combination. Startups bring flexibility and new approaches to the partnership while corporations provide the data and knowledge. Startups can appeal to more employees, but they do not always have the resources to execute their ideas. That is where big corporations come in. They can bring with them the experience and capital – both physical and human – that startups need.

Utilizing Digitalization

The industry has been mostly focusing on different trends of digitalization – such as Blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things.

Sometimes it pays to invest in trends early, nevertheless one should not jump in blindly.

Digitalization should be a means to improve your business with the technological advances available to you that can guide and help you.

Businesses need to ask themselves these questions: How would digitalization benefit you and your business? What is your business model – how can you incorporate technology into it in a way that makes sense and is worth it?


[1] http://www.ics-shipping.org/shipping-facts/key-facts

[2] https://www.aptaracorp.com/blog/10-advantages-digitization-and-data-capture-you-must-know

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