The significant opportunities that can be realised by utilising developments in connectivity to drive e-procurement within the maritime sector was the key theme at the annual Smart Procurement Conference organised by ShipServ, the maritime e-procurement platform.
With continued global economic challenges, and a rapidly changing market, there was widespread consensus that the digitalisation of procurement can tangibly enable ship owners and operators to drive further efficiencies, maximise productivity, and reduce operational expenditure (OPEX), while helping suppliers within the industry to manage their global business, build their brands, receive more requests, improve quoting efficiency, and increase win rate.
With an audience spanning the shipping supply chain, speakers included representatives from Oldendorff Carriers, Weco Shipping, IMPA, Moore Stephens, Caterpillar, SES, Hanseaticsoft, Schneider Electric, and RS Components. Addressing some of the key challenges and trends within the shipping industry, there was widespread agreement that more sophisticated and faster connectivity is facilitating the rapid evolution of procurement, in conjunction with the requirement for shipowners and operators to seize every opportunity to increase operational efficiencies and reduce OPEX.
Delegates were also advised of the need to build more partnership-based relationships between buyers and suppliers, moving from a tactical, transactional, and reaction-based approach to procurement, to a strategic model of genuine collaboration where purchasing trends, data, and intelligence can be optimised. This serves to reduce complexities within procurement, as well as streamlining processes across fleets to reduce expenditure and create more efficient and strategic operations.
“The significant advances that have been made in connectivity, and the development of sophisticated, sustainable, and insight-rich e-commerce platforms creates a unique opportunity for both buyers and suppliers within maritime,” said Kim Skaarup, Chief Operating Officer, ShipServ.
“Collaborative communities can be built where purchasers and suppliers effectively use the vast amounts of data and information available, and share knowledge to create procurement strategies that genuinely work for both sides. Owners and operators can optimise their supplier base to ensure quality at a product and service level, reduce risk and costs on transactions, control spending, and generate operational efficiencies; the net benefit being reduced OPEX and increased profitability. For suppliers, the opportunity to work more closely and consultatively with their customers and add value that positively impacts procurement strategy not only generates trust, but also facilitates long-term and better relationships, drives business retention, and ultimately increases sales.”
As the shipping industry seeks to shift its approach to smart procurement by leveraging digital and technological advances, the onus lies with owners and operators to reject the status quo of cutting costs and consolidation during tough economic times, and embrace the total cost of ownership, identifying where value can be added beyond just the price of products.