21 May 2012
BERGEN is commonly referred to as the City among seven Mountains, but for ShipServ it could easily be known as the City of e-commerce as its shipowning fraternity has embraced the technology more than anywhere else in the world.
Owners from the city were among the first to use the TradeNet platform over a decade ago and ShipServ now has nine clients from the shipping capital of Norway including such illustrious names such as Utkilen, Grieg, Seatrans, Wilson, Westfal Larsen, DOF and Mowinckel.
“We are a close knit purchasing community and spend a lot of time talking to each other about the advantages that e-commerce can bring, so it’s no surprise ShipServ has a hub of owners in Bergen,” said Knut Ove Thuland Hansen, purchasing manager of Utkilen. Utkilen was amongst the first wave of those early adopters to consider e-commerce and began looking at potential partners back in 2000 when the maritime market was awash with companies claiming to offer such services.
“We saw e-commerce as vital over ten years ago and the main problem we wanted to overcome was to avoid retyping and save our purchasing managers vital time so they could concentrate on sourcing, logistics and supplier negotiation,” said Knut Ove Thuland Hansen.
“But the big challenge for us at the time was the number of different players in the market – at one time we counted 72 different players – and we needed to be sure that the company we chose as our e-commerce provider was here for the long term.” After considering the options Utklien signed up to ShipServ in 2001. “ShipServ had the right people behind it, with extensive experience not only in the shipping industry but most importantly within the purchasing department of shipping companies. They knew the business and this was important for us.”
Utkilen operates vessels on coastal trades where quick turnarounds are necessary with a large number of port calls, so supplier information provided by e-commerce has become a vital asset. “In our line of business, supplier response rates are critical so it was also important to get better data reporting so that we could enter talks with suppliers armed with hard facts,” said Mr Thuland Hansen.
Fellow Bergen operator Grieg Shipping is seen by many as one of shipping’s most innovative companies with its adoption of technology and push for green initiative, but when it came to e-commerce it took a slightly cautious approach before signing up in 2008. “There were a lot of companies saying what they could do but actually they couldn’t so we waited for a while to assess market – we are normally one of the first to react – but watched and listened to others.”
For Grieg one of the most important features of e-commerce is the benchmark and KPI data, which can be used for both internal and external discussions. “We had internal KPIs implemented through the company, but it was hard for us to establish purchasing KPIs, so this gives us an automatic KPI dashboard that we can now show at corporate level,” said Roar Misje.
“We also show our KPIs to our key suppliers and when we went with ShipServ, we had to change our quote response time from 7-10 days to around 4 days, which is a big change,” said Mr Misje. One of the most recent companies to sign up is Wilson Ship Management, which now has around 80 ships trading on the ShipServ platform.
“We had previously used a solution that did not provide us with everything we needed, but ShipServ gives us the complete chain of purchasing with our supplier base and that the supplier community is already very active,” said Nikolai Berget, purchasing manager with Wilson Ship Management.
As to be expected from a community that has been at the forefront of e-commerce, Bergen-based owners are now leading the way in the adoption of new features such as e-invoicing. “E-invoicing is an important asset for us and we are happy that ShipServ has this ability now covered with its new module,” concluded Mr Thuland Hansen. Connect talks to some of the leading shipowners in Bergen about how they have adopted e-procurement