Yesterday was the opening of another very important chapter in the 173-year history of Inchcape Shipping Services with the launch of its World of Ports offering, a digital service giving owners and operators access to a wealth of unique information to ensure safe, compatible and efficient port calls. The constantly updated, single source solution gives customers information relating to over 4,600 ports, 15,000 terminals and 36,000 individual berths.
“There is nothing else like it on the market. It’s going to be a game changer,” says Frank Olsen, the CEO of ISS, one of the world’s big three ship agents.
World of Ports is built on proprietary data gathered by ISS staff over the course of the last decade and utilises a Google Maps interface. Through this it gives users the ability to examine terminals right down to any individual berth, geofenced to avoid ambiguity, ensuring accurate details regarding parameters and restrictions, while integrated AIS feeds show exactly what is going on and where in terms of vessel movements. This allows for optimal arrivals and departure. Enriched port data – including environmental information, details of facilities and operational notes – is also included, with a client dashboard providing easy access, tailored information and vessel alerts.
“It gives our customers eyes, ears and intelligence on the ground, ensuring smooth operations and maximum business efficiency,” Olsen says. That last point is worth stressing, as it effectively replaces the need to make and manage countless phone calls and emails, with a variety of smaller agents, with a simple interaction with one reliable, up to date and in-depth source of global information. This forms part of a wider strategy Olsen and his team have, namely to double ISS’s market share in the next five years, largely at the expense of smaller agents.
ISS, which can trace its roots back to 1847, now has 240 offices, in 68 countries, covering around 2,500 ports with an approximate 5% market share of the global ship agency business.
“Our analysts are forecasting a decline in seaborne trade in the region of 5-7%, as the world recovers from Covid-19 and consumer spending suffers accordingly. However, there’s definite potential for growth,” Olsen tells Maritime CEO.
“The market is still dominated by smaller agents catering for local ports. Together they account for around 80% of port calls. That demonstrates the enormous market share we can compete for and, as arguably the only pure play leading ships agency in the business, we’re very confident we can significantly boost market share,” he insists.
The new digital chapter – World of Ports – ought to spur this growth.