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The latest move in container line vertical integration came from China today, as it was announced that OOCL Logistics’ e-commerce platform, EShipping, will become a joint-venture with JD.com
OOCL majority owner Cosco Shipping has struck up a deal with JD Logistics that will result in a $38m investment in EShipping and the delivery division of JD.com holding a 56% stake.
JD will take also hold a majority on the board, electing three of its five members. Cosco and OOCL subsidiary Gold Talent will elect the other two.
OOCL said: “Establishment of the JV and the acquisition allows us to leverage JD Logistics’ advanced technology to gain wider exposure in the e-commerce segment…[as well as gain] actual experience in handling both B2B and B2C international e-commerce logistics, and to drive for future growth in these markets.”
Formed in 2014, China-based EShipping provides an online platform allowing SMEs access to all-in-one logistics services.
However, one source told The Loadstar carriers would have to be “careful” if they were eyeing integrator status, as it could be “unwise to step on too many of the big forwarders’ toes”.
Martin Dixon, head of research products at Drewry, added: “Carriers trying to become integrators was tried a number of years ago and it didn’t work out. However, developments in technology could give them a better shot nowadays, with the technology providing for greater visibility.
“That said, it will be still be quite challenging. And making predictions on success of such ventures is difficult to tell.
“There is a danger it could upset forwarders if they perceive themselves to be in competition with carriers but there has always been an aspect of that and forwarders have shown a willingness to compromise on these concerns if they get the rates they want.”
Last year, Maersk brought Damco-branded digital forwarding platform Twill, before announcing its strategy was to “become a global integrator of container logistics, offering end-to-end solutions” within three to five years.
However, it insisted Twill would offer independent advice as a multi-carrier platform and would “freely choose” between carriers to provide customers the best solution.
Chief commercial officer of Maersk Vincent Clerc added: “With Twill we are offering SMEs a simple, easy way of shipping goods, providing them better control of their supply chains.”
The Danish shipping giant has not been alone in this, with CMA CGM now owning a near-100% stake in Ceva Logistics.
“Carriers want to do this to help them move up the value chain, gain greater control of the cargo, and have additional services to offer customers,” Mr Dixon added.