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September 17 2018

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10 The Journal of Commerce | September 17 2018 www.joc.com Cover Story By Eric Johnson ONLY TWO OF the world's top dozen container lines — Maersk Line and Hapag-Lloyd — offer shippers the capability to get instant quotes via an online booking engine, analy- sis of those lines' websites by The Journal of Commerce shows. That's in spite of the increasing number of competitive threats carriers face from new and established freight rate providers. Those lines account for a collec- tive 85 percent of global container ship capacity, according to maritime research company Alphaliner, high- lighting the fact that the liner ship- ping industry has a long way to go to reach shippers through the types of e-commerce tools more regularly found in other industries. While carriers in that group have talked often about the need to digitize their businesses, from an operational perspective and a customer-facing one, most carriers have not yet made the leap to offer e-commerce tools to engage new categories of customers, particu- larly in the small to medium-sized segments. The mandate to invest in such tools is pronounced as shippers now have more options than ever to engage in price discovery and instant transactions. Whereas carriers pre- viously had only to consider freight forwarders, non-vessel-operating common carriers (NVOs), and other lines as competitive threats, now they must contend with the reality that shippers can access a range of rate tools to inform their procure- ment decisions. Among those tools are freight rate marketplaces (both neutral and curated); digital freight forwarders, whose business models often center around an easy-to-use quoting interface; and established freight forwarders that have launched their own instant quoting and booking platforms aligned to their NVO business. A shi to transparency If carriers are to succeed in mi- grating shippers to an online quoting environment in this increasingly crowded environment, they will Hardly instant Providing instant quotes challenges container shipping amid competitive threats

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