Digital Edition

Sept.18, 2017

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 3 of 119

4 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE Editor's Letter Hugh R. Morley AT W H AT P O I N T does it become imperative that a beneficial cargo owner or transportation provider get deeply embedded in the new wave of container shipping technology? And is it too late to start? Those questions underlie the package of stories in this issue that take an in-depth look at how technol- ogy is penetrating the cargo industry, what it offers, and where prime mov- ers are taking the cutting edge. Shippers don't have to look far to see the consequences of arriving late to the technology party, with the retail sector a prime example of the punish- ing impact of technological change. As e-commerce races ahead, brick- and-mortar retailers are struggling. Same-store sales at four of the nation's biggest — Kohl's, JCPenney, Macy's, and Sears — have declined this year versus 2016 as they fight the tide of consumer e-commerce preference. Amazon, meanwhile, is one of the largest retailers in the nation and the talk of nearly every type of shipper, including toy importers who debated the pros and cons of the retail disrup- tor at a recent breakfast meeting of the Toy Industry Association. Although all agreed that Amazon required relent- less logistical and financial demands for skimpy rewards, the table was split over whether it was worth the trouble or that the dramatic sales volume gen- erated through selling through the giant couldn't be turned away. It's an evaluation many consumer goods importers are doubtless mak- ing. But what's clear is that meeting those demands will soon be — and perhaps already is — nearly impossible without a heavy dose of technology in a company's system, and those of its logistics partners. The speed, effi- ciency, precision, and transparency required to play in Amazon's sandbox only can be provided by technology. And, although resistance is possible, other retailers in the longer term soon will be making the same demands. Amazon launched in the mid- 1990s, not long before the container shipping industry experienced its first wave of online-based digital startups — mostly auction style marketplaces that soon ground to a halt. Why, as Amazon exploded, the shipping industry didn't rapidly adopt technology, and why the sector is doing so now, is the subject of one of the stories in this issue. In it, dif- ferent players voice diverging views on whether the industry will experience a slow or rapid revolution. But there is a growing sense that, as INTTRA said recently, the industry is at a "tipping point" in which "digitization is now a competitive necessity." Regardless of this inevitability, the shape and pace of technology's pen- etration into the industry is far from certain. Consider that artificial intel- ligence has been discussed as playing a key role in shipping for three decades, and only now are the first practical uses emerging. Likewise, blockchain technology has been much discussed, yet the concrete uses are still few, and are considered by some analysts to be long shots for success. Meanwhile, Flexport, the self-styled "digital freight forwarder," is taking what at first glance might appear a backward step, moving into bricks and mortar with plans for a slew of warehouses — an unorthodox step for a company known as one of the foremost of the technol- ogy startups targeting the industry. Yet no one in the industry can afford to take this zigging and zagging by the prime technological movers as a sign the rest of the industry can hold off from embracing technology until the shakeout is clear. The supply chain is getting more precise; the "time" element in "just-in-time" shipping is getting shorter. Without technology, it will be tough to meet demands. And the predictions that the digital divide will separate the winners from losers are getting louder. JOC Technology's Transportation Creep The Journal of Commerce (USPS 279 – 060), ISSN 1530-7557, September 18, 2017, Volume 18, Issue No. 19. 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. SEPTEMBER 18.2017 EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE AND JOC EVENTS Chris Brooks 609 649 2181 EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE AND JOC.COM Mark Szakonyi 202 872 1234 MANAGING EDITOR Barbara Wyker 908 777 3217 SENIOR EDITORS Joseph Bonney, Breakbulk/Project Cargo, Gulf Coast 973 508 2417 William B. Cassidy, Trucking and Domestic Transportation 202 872 1228 Bill Mongelluzzo, West Coast 562 428 5999 Hugh Morley, Northeast, Mexico 646 679 3475 Greg Knowler, Asia Editor, Maritime & Trade, IHS Markit, +852 3975 2647 Turloch Mooney, Global Ports, Maritime & Trade, IHS Markit, +852 9011 9109 ASSOCIATE EDITOR Reynolds Hutchins, Intermodal, Government/Regulation, Southeast Ports 202 572 1487 ASSISTANT WEB EDITOR Dustin Braden 646 679 3450 SENIOR ECONOMIST, MARITIME & TRADE, IHS MARKIT, Mario O. Moreno 973 204 7796 SENIOR CONTENT EDITOR Alessandra Gregory Barrett 860 248 5238 SENIOR DESIGNER Sue Abt, 415 312 2691 DESIGNER Bryan Boyd, 908 910 7849 PUBLISHER Tony Stein 770 295 8809, SALES Cindy Cronin, Strategic Account Manager Southeast, Gulf, Canada sales, 954 551 8305 Zachary Gorman, Senior Sales Executive Northeast sales, Classifieds/Reprints/Copyrights 646 679 3466 Jean Gibbons, Senior Sales Executive West Coast, Midwest sales 404 971 4777 Ria Van den Bogaert, Sales Representative Europe, Middle East sales, +32 2 569 8905 For Magazine Subscription Customer Service: 450 West 33rd St., 5th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10001 800 952 3839 MANAGING DIRECTOR, MEDIA AND EVENTS, MARITIME & TRADE, IHS MARKIT, Rhiannon James SENIOR DIRECTOR, CONTENT, MARITIME & TRADE, IHS MARKIT, Peter Tirschwell DIRECTOR, MEDIA & EVENTS, MARITIME & TRADE, IHS MARKIT, Amy Middlebrook MANAGER, PRODUCTION, Carmen Verenna MARKETING PROGRAMS MANAGER, JOC, Jesse Case ©2017 The Journal of Commerce — All Rights Reserved For more information, visit our website,

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Digital Edition - Sept.18, 2017