Ocean freight industry lagging in digitization, report finds

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by Emily Atkins

A new study has found that 40 percent of ocean freight carriers are not using digital solutions to expedite operations.

The report, based on a large-scale survey conducted by ODeX, provides in-depth insights into the operational challenges, adoption of digital documentation, and the evolving landscape of maritime logistics.

The survey, which garnered responses from a diverse group of industry professionals, revealed the following findings:

Three quarters of respondents experience operational bottlenecks frequently or occasionally, with 50 percent citing documentation issues as a major challenge. The most common issues included delays, errors, and difficulties in obtaining originals. Approximately 30 percent cited logistical challenges such as blank sailings and roll overs as significant bottlenecks. Around 20 percent of participants pointed out delays and complexities related to customs and regulatory compliance.

These bottlenecks, as reported, directly affect operational efficiency, with delays and errors leading to increased costs and extended turnaround times. The impact on customer satisfaction was noted, with delays and inefficiencies adversely affecting client relationships, as highlighted by a majority of the respondents.

Sixty percent of industry professionals are already using digital documentation or payment platforms, indicating a significant shift towards digital adoption.

However, 40 percent have not yet adopted these digital solutions, primarily due to concerns about data security, user adaptability, and implementation costs. Approximately 25 percent cited concerns about data security as a major barrier, while 15 percent pointed to a lack of user adaptability or familiarity with digital tools. Another 10 percent mentioned the cost of implementation as a hindrance.

A noteworthy 20 percent of respondents not using digital platforms indicated a lack of awareness or understanding of the available digital solutions.

A substantial 70 percent emphasize the extreme importance of understanding the shipping landscape and stakeholders for successful digital integration.

The report provides detailed recommendations for addressing these challenges, emphasizing the need for enhanced digital documentation, user-friendly platforms, and collaborative industry efforts.

Liji Nowal, CEO of ODeX, commented on the survey’s significance, “The findings of this survey are a call to action for the ocean freight shipping industry. As we navigate through digital transformation, it’s clear that a deeper understanding of the sector’s unique challenges and a collaborative approach are crucial.

The report offers guidance for stakeholders in ocean freight shipping, underlining the importance of digital solutions in overcoming operational challenges and enhancing industry efficiency.