Carriers’ sales digitalisation moves ‘not a threat’ says top forwarder


Kuehne + Nagel CEO Detlef Trefzger said his company welcomes increasing digitialisation on the part of its transport suppliers and does not see it as a threat to its business.

With ocean shipping giant Maersk Line arguing that digitalisation was now the key to container shipping’s future and profitability – and recently launching online container shipment booking systems on the e-commerce platforms of customers such as Alibaba – Trefzger was asked yesterday by analysts what measures, if any, Kuehne + Nagel was taking to defend elements of its sea freight gross profit in light of the digitalisation efforts of its suppliers.

Speaking following the presentation of the global forwarding and logistics group 2016 results, Trefzger replied: “We are happy that digitalisation is also happening with our suppliers, because that helps us to interface with suppliers and also customers more seamlessly.

“And this trend has started not this year or last year. It’s an on-going trend that we have seen in the past four or five years. And we can only encourage all suppliers to go on (online) platforms and to interface with us and other players, seamlessly, via a platform.”

He played down the risks of potentially losing business to shipping lines or the latter ‘reclaiming’ some of the supply chain. “We don’t assess this risk to be high,” he responded. “We sell solutions – we don’t just sell port-to-port or airport-to-airport transport; we are integrated in the value chain in the business of our customers. And it’s a very complex integration.”

He continued: “Whatever touch-points we can automate further will help to drive productivity and efficiency in the supply chain. But we don’t think that is a risk of losing part of the supply chain. We take over the responsibility of providing goods on time in full, undamaged, from one location into production or into merchandise of our customers.”