If road, rail, ocean, and air are the global arteries of trade, then shipping carriers are the red blood cells that keep the life-force flowing. It is many years since the idea of doing business with international partners ceased to be the preserve of the exotic few. In today’s landscape, we’re all using shipping partners.
So many of us, in fact, that the old shipping partner stalwarts of yesteryear have undergone considerable identity changes of late. The shipping partners of 2019 might have the same names as they did a decade ago, but their business models and operational structures are very different. Today, we take a closer look at the shipping partner phenomenon.
What Is A Shipping Partner?
Shipping partners have been part of the carrier landscape since time immemorial. They include traditional fixtures, such as Cunard, as well as companies that the era of ecommerce has transformed into household names: DHL, UPS, and TNT. Whilst these organisations have become known for getting one-click products from Chinese factories to a doorstep in Essex, much of their bread and butter comes from transporting freight.
Why Are They Useful?
With value for money and efficiency being at the top of most transport agendas, using shipping partners makes sense. Many providers use algorithms to determine the swiftest way to get cargo from the launch pad to destination, and this often means using a combination of shipping partners. For instance, if an organisation books a service via UPS, it may not be UPS that fulfils every stage of the journey. Various other partners might be involved to cover different segments.
Does That Matter?
Whether or not the shipping partner network will have an influence on your shipment depends upon multiple variables. If your goods are specialist, it is not always wise to entrust them to the great unknown. As such, it is advisable to work with a specialist carrier with an established infrastructure. For instance, NTEX supports its fleet with agents throughout Europe and Scandinavia, and only work with trusted partners during air and sea journey phases.
Can An Old Relationship Cloud Your Judgement?
The e-Commerce boom has had a dramatic impact on the entire shipping partner industry. Supply chains have become increasingly entangled, and the variety of goods being transported increasingly vast. The knock-on effect is that the identities of many shipping partners have shifted to fit with the times. In order to remain competitive, many have become increasingly generic.
Generic shipping partners can offer an excellent service if the materials that a company needs to transport are also generic.
For organisations whose precision engineering project has been manufactured to the fraction of a millimetre in order to respond to a single need in a distant land, generic is not so helpful. This is not only because some items require specialist handling, but also because local knowledge can avoid legislative delays at borders and other legal problems when traveling to unique markets such as Scandinavia. Construction, automotive manufacturing, and precision engineering – three areas in which NTEX has developed a particular reputation as logistics specialists – can all pose challenges for generic carriers.
What Does This All Mean?
Many shipping partners have been around for 100 years or more. However, this doesn’t mean that their identities have remained constant. Our increasingly globalised landscape continues to present opportunities and challenges in the transportation of freight, and the result of increasing homogenisation is often generalisation. Many of us have benefitted from that.
However, there are many reasons why a one-size-fits-all solution may not be ideal for every organisation. Whether it’s a need for reliability, transparency, GPS tracking, flexibility, or specialist and local knowledge, sometimes a shipping partner such as NTEX can be about more than simply getting the products from the start-line to the finish. Sometimes it’s about passionate, creative, caring, and consistently personalised service.