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February 17, 2017

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Shippers offer space booking on Alibaba

TWO container shipping lines, France’s CMA CGM and Israel’s Zim, have signed up with Alibaba to allow customers to book space on their vessels through the Chinese e-commerce giant, in a bid to boost sales as the sector battles a severe downturn.

Container lines, facing their worst-ever downturn due to a glut of ships and weaker demand, are pursuing several measures such as vessel-sharing arrangements or mergers and acquisitions to ride out the current slump. A growing number of logistics firms are going online to buoy their business.

In December, Maersk — the world’s largest container shipping line and a unit of Denmark’s AP Moller-Maersk — started offering online booking services to Chinese shippers on Alibaba’s OneTouch website.

Shippers traditionally go through freight forwarders to book space for goods on container vessels, but more liners are allowing cargo owners to book directly via the Internet. As for e-commerce companies, they are venturing into logistics to try to gain better control over their supply chain networks.

“ is open to collaborating with logistics firms who want to join our platform which aims to streamline the logistics process for small and medium-sized enterprises and empower them to seize cross-border trade opportunities,” an Alibaba spokeswoman said in an e-mail yesterday.

Zim has begun allowing customers to book space through the platform on routes such as Shanghai to India and Pakistan, or from Xiamen to South America, according to advertisements posted on the OneTouch platform.

CMA CGM has signed a memorandum of understanding with Alibaba to cooperate on the OneTouch platform, it said.



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