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February 3 2020

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4 The Journal of Commerce | Februar y 3 2020 Eric Johnson THE NOTION THAT logistics practi- tioners want a pure self-service model for procuring and managing their freight is running into a wall — a human wall that wants automation in some areas and not in others. That's not to say the logistics industry isn't seeking progress on the automation front. Rather, the industry is moving toward a more nuanced approach, balancing the cur - rent needs of shippers and forwarders with efforts to provide automated single-click software options. At The Journal of Commerce's Emerging Tech Summit in New York on Jan. 15, a range of speakers across international and domestic freight disciplines highlighted the spaces where automation can fit into exist- ing company structures without disrupting previous investments in people and systems. As Jenna Brown, co-founder and CEO of London-based technology pro- vider Shipamax, noted, automation works best when it is the least dis- ruptive to systems on which logistics professionals currently rely. Her com- pany has focused on extracting and normalizing shipment data contained in emails. Rather than try to get users to adapt to a new environment, Brown realized there would be more traction in meeting its users on their terms — that is, in their email applications. In the arena of digital quoting and booking of ocean freight, uptake of self-service platforms is in a sense already in the works. A handful of the world's largest container lines and most of the top 20 forwarders have the ability to quote a rate directly through a browser-based system akin to travels sites like Expedia. The question is whether buyers of ocean freight will use those platforms simply as price discovery tools or if they will migrate their spot capacity procurement to such environments. Or, more pertinent to the question of self-service, will they shift the ratio of contract capacity to spot if the self-service platforms are easy to use, effective, and don't expose shippers to wild swings in rates? At this point, it's difficult to envi - sion large-volume shippers making that shift any time soon, not least because they don't see a need to. They have to reconcile not just an entrenched culture around annual contract negotiations, but also a sense that self-service platforms fail to cap- ture the weight of their leverage in rate negotiations. Shippers have told The Journal of Commerce that the time potentially saved in procurement cycles from using instant rate options isn't worth sacrificing that leverage. The traction may then come from forwarders either using carrier self-service pricing tools or buying their own off-the-shelf instant pricing solutions, such as Evergreen's use of software provider BlueX Trade to enable its GreenX instant pricing tool. The Taiwan-based container line said in mid-January that more than 1,000 shippers and forwarders have signed up since the system went live in November. Maersk, meanwhile, said in mid-December that a quarter of its spot bookings are now conducted via its instant pricing tool, Maersk Spot. Most of the uptake from that product is from forwarders, the carrier said. Meanwhile, another top-10 container line told The Journal of Com- merce it will be cautious when rolling out an instant pricing product exter- nally, "given that the Maersk Spot tool — and to a certain extent the Hapag tool — has been disruptive to the market in allowing forwarders to use it for pricing, which gives them a tool to try to force down carrier rates." A solutions provider to the for- warding industry also told The Journal of Commerce that some of its customers are struggling to manage the workflow related to providing instant rates to shippers via carrier tools while also jug- gling their normal provision of rates. Forwarders are not incentivized to provide a completely self-service product, nor is such an approach prac- tical, according to multiple 3PLs who spoke with The Journal of Commerce. Instead, their focus is on integrations, Angela Czajkowski, director of supply chain at Baltimore-based forwarder and customs broker Shapiro, said at the JOC summit. Those integrations connect outside data sources and ser- vices — like standalone cargo visibility providers — and Shapiro's customers. Rather than self-service, Shapiro is trying to use technology to connect its customers with its own systems and those of its partners. Visibility, in particular, is an area where both shippers and forwarders seem eager to adopt solutions that alleviate the need to manually check on where cargo is, across modes. As Alan Ocana, CEO of ConsulHub and an attendee at the JOC sum - mit, wrote in a LinkedIn post, "Full self-service for shippers (automating the whole logistics process) seems not to be in great demand by shipper or forwarders. Some parts of it, like pricing, booking, and tracking, yes." But forwarders, shippers, online platforms and brokers all agreed that "automatizing the whole logistics process is not possible at this stage because this business has too many exceptions." And that may be where the future of logistics automation and self-service models lies: in filling the laborious process gaps and in helping existing players conduct their busi- ness faster. JOC email: twitter: @LogTechEric The automation-autonomy ratio The Journal of Commerce (USPS 279 – 060), ISSN 1530-7557, February 3, 2019, Volume 20, Issue No. 3. The Journal of Commerce is published bi-weekly except the last week in December (printed 25 times per year) by JOC Group Inc., 450 West 33rd St., 5th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10001. Subscription price: $595 a year. Periodicals postage paid at New York, N.Y., and additional mailing offices. © All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be copied or reprinted without written permission from the publisher. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to The Journal of Commerce, Subscription Services Department, 450 West 33rd St., 5th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10001. Letter from the Editor "Full self-service for shippers seems not to be in great demand by shipper or forwarders."

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