The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an acceleration in digital innovation in the container shipping industry, according to Hapag-Lloyd CEO Rolf Habben Jansen.
Speaking during a press briefing in which he analysed the current state of the market, including port traffic, freight rates and technology, Jansen said the carrier’s digital platform had seen a substantial spike in traffic during the pandemic.
Furthermore, he expects the digitisation trend to continue as online platforms allow for better data efficiency and use, something that will become more important in the coming years as carriers, operators, ports and other stakeholders look to cope with growing demand for goods.
This, Jansen suggested, will mean all parties in the maritime industry and wider supply chain will have to do more to integrate digitsation into their operations.
“COVID-19 has accelerated digitisation,” Jansen said. “Our online channel has grown like crazy, but there are many other things we can do. The digitisation drive will continue in the coming years.”
Jansen also spoke at length about the surge in demand for containerised goods, which he described as the biggest shift in consumer behaviour since the 1970s as sales for home equipment and IT-related goods have increased.
This has caused significant congestion at some of the most world’s important gateways, such as those on the US West Coast.
The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on digital technologies has been the subject of much speculation, particularly in the maritime industry which is looking to clear the surge in demand for containerised goods.
In November during the Smart Ports: Piers of the Future event hosted by the Port of Barcelona it was predicted that the pandemic would lead to a new ‘golden age’ of technological research and innovation for the container port industry, as the crisis will force stakeholders to not only invest in new methods but also work together more closely.
A PTI webinar on the supply chain in 2020 heard predictions that the pandemic will specifically lead to the launching of a globally accepted electronic Bill of Lading (E/BL) to help the supply chain flow even when customs officials are working remotely.