A reasonable assessment of the outlook for ocean shippers. It’s all about supply chains and how you fit into them.
Ports, terminals, and ocean carriers currently comprise a family in severe dysfunction and denial, but can the intervention of shippers restore some badly needed order?
With that in mind, how can shippers better work with their carriers?
Carlton: They can help at the margins by establishing and maintaining solid long-term relationships with quality carriers. That’s a good solution for both, but it’s not enough to overcome the carriers’ own downward pressure on rates and returns from continued overcapacity.
How important are non-vessel operators (NVOs) in today’s marketplace? Will we see more reliance on these middlemen or less?
Damas: NVOs are increasingly important in an ocean market characterized by ocean carriers generally offering only a basic commoditized service. On some routes, NVOs are incredibly powerful. For small shippers who don’t have in-house freight procurement experts, this is especially true. NVOs are the natural one-stop-shop for a range of services, including consolidation and personalized customer service. For larger shippers, NVOs often serve as forwarders or 3PLs. In my view, the roles of intermediaries will increase – and ocean carriers cannot replace them.