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Maersk acutely aware of risk of ‘clients becoming rivals’

Shares of FedEx Corp and UPS Inc dropped last week after a report that Amazon plans to handle more deliveries to its customers’ doorsteps. Now the maritime industry is asking itself to what extent the online retailer will also try to take greater control of transportation of shipments bound for Amazon warehouses.

At the moment, those tend to be handled by Maersk and companies like it. Taking greater control of shipments would give Amazon more flexibility; a strategy of combining the Maersk conglomerate’s container activities -including a shipping line, a port operator and a freight-forwarding service provider- will offer Amazon and others like it the integrated supply chain they need.

According to, it’s not just a question of a smooth delivery. Giants like Amazon also want better information about shipments to manage supply chains as effectively as possible. Maersk is rolling out a new digitization strategy to modernise an industry in which bookings often still take place by phone. Last month, it formed a joint venture with IBM to develop the use of blockchain technology to manage and track cross-border trade.

“Amazon is a threat if we don’t do a good job for them,” said Soren Skou, chief executive officer of AP Moller Maersk A/. “If we don’t do our job well, then there’s no doubt that big, strong companies like Amazon will look into whether they can do better themselves.”

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