With the transition towards digitalization and automation gaining momentum in the maritime industry, ocean carriers are utilizing an increasing number of digital technologies and solutions to increase their competitiveness and enhance operational efficiency.
More than that, in the wake of the COP26 summit held in Glasgow from 31st October – 13th November 2021, which brought world governments together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the spotlight is on international shipping lines to implement changes that will spur the industry along the decarbonization path to realizing zero emissions by 2050.
As a leading worldwide ocean carrier, Ocean Network Express (ONE) is at the forefront of this shift to a digital logistics experience. To secure sustainable and efficient operations, as well as strengthen its short-and-long-term competitiveness, the company has modernized a wide range of its processes allowing it to provide its customers with enhanced monitoring, control, quality assurance, and verification.
Speaking to LM about the company’s approach to making its operations more digital and, specifically, how these transformations positively affect its Thai customers’ experiences with ONE, Mr. Kiyoshi Tokonami, Managing Director of ONE Thailand, explained the tactics and key milestones behind ONE’s digitalization roadmap.
Necessity Propels Innovation
Everyone has heard the saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and while the origin of the proverb is uncertain, its truth is not in doubt. One may consider the terms ‘invention’ and ‘innovation’ as interchangeable, or at least very closely related. Necessity forces us to think differently, spurring humans to innovate throughout the ages. In the modern era, things certainly are no different, and ONE began initiating changes to its strategies due to the rise of evolving customer demands, heightened competition, and chiefly, in response to the impact of COVID-19.
“While the path towards the digitalization of international shipping has been ongoing for the past couple of decades, progress has been relatively slow when compared with other industries. This is due to the vast amounts of regulations and paperwork we need to deal with when moving cargo from one country to another,” said Mr. Tokonami. “COVID-19 has become the catalyst for the rapid acceleration of digitalization. As the virus spread and physical interactions were limited, contactless ways of working became essential,” he stated.
Due to the nature of the shipping industry, many people and agencies are involved at every stage of delivery. Be it governments, banks, importers, exporters, port forwarders, truckers, etc., each with their own set of rules and regulations, streamlining the processes concerned with each party is the ultimate goal of digitalization. By offering more customer-oriented digital services, ONE aims to make doing business with the company faster and safer, as well as more accurate, convenient, and standardized.
“Of course, I’d like to stress that we are not forcing people to use our digital systems, and we will continue to offer our paper-based options to customers who wish to use these more traditional methods. However, in time, we hope that more and more of ONE’s customers will see the benefits in transitioning to our newer options and join us in adopting these new technologies into their lives,” noted Mr. Tokonami.
Improving User Satisfaction
By enlightening its users in the Thai market about the digital features of ONE, the company hopes to enhance satisfaction and build upon its reputation for providing reliable and cost-effective shipping services. “When we use the term ‘users,’ not only do we refer to our customers but also our partners since our digitalization adapts to every aspect of the logistics process, including operations and assets,” said Mr. Tokonami.
“When we use the term ‘users,’ not only do we refer to our customers but also our partners since our digitalization adapts to every aspect of the logistics process…”
He continued, “In order to improve user satisfaction, internal communication within ONE is also important; thus, the digital tools we use are not standalone. Instead, they connect with each other where necessary to provide a seamless information flow.”
One of the key benefits of digital technology over its predecessors is its ability to integrate processes and reduce the time needed to verify information. In addition, by centralizing data in a safe and protected manner, ONE can offer customers and business associates a more advanced way of working.
ONE’s Digitalization Milestones
Over the past year, ONE has rolled out several projects to ramp up its digitalization efforts. Mr. Tokonami explained that the company assigned various groups to work on the new e-services to launch each tool following a predetermined timeline.
“ONE will not stop our digitalization in FY2022, and the enhancement of our existing digital features…”
“Many digital platforms were released in FY2021 such as ONE Quote, ONE Quote, ONE Mobile App, ONE eCommerce, LiveChat, e-Payment, e-B/L, and e-Tax Invoice/e-Receipt. However, ONE will not stop our digitalization in FY2022, and the enhancement of our existing digital features, as well as new tools, are expected to be released continuously to drive user satisfaction further,” said Mr. Tokonami.
Perhaps one of the company’s most notable features released to date is ONE Quote which is available across all continents. The service offers customers an instant quote to book platform, giving them easy access to quotations and allowing them to make a booking promptly all on one platform.
Coinciding with ONE Quote’s release was the launch of ONE Mobile App, which grants customers access to a Global Directory, Service Map, Vessel Schedule Inquiry, and provides proactive alerts. Moreover, the app is fully integrated with the ONE Quote platform and allows customers direct and instant contact with ONE via LiveChat. The app is available for download on both Google Play for Android and the App Store for iOS users.
Another major release for the company was the introduction of ONE eCommerce, a desktop-based platform designed to give customers a quick, simple, and convenient way to help save time and money. ONE eCommerce provides users with all the same benefits as ONE Quote, but it also features more in-depth content such as e-Payment, e-B/L, and e-Tax/e-Receipt.
e-Payment lets customers make a payment online using HSBC e-banking solutions. “From 7th December 2021, our customers in Thailand can make an e-Payment through any of our Thai banking partners, including KBank, Krungsri, SCB, Bangkok Bank, and Krungthai Bank,” said Mr. Tokonami. “e-BL focuses on creating a paperless solution by simplifying document handling. The service is available through our partner WAVE, who have helped us create a swift and secure documentation flow. Finally, there is e-Tax/e-Receipt which offers a more convenient way for our customers to self-print e-Tax and e-Receipt documents,” he added.
Committed to the Thai Market
To date, the feedback from ONE’s customers relating to the new digital platforms has been overwhelmingly positive, and the company expects that moving forward into FY2022, more people will swap over to its online and mobile technology.
Mr. Tokonami noted, “We are continuously listening to the response from our Thai customers and looking for ways that we can improve our digital offerings. ONE makes 15 direct calls and offers over 50 transhipment services here in Thailand, so it is safe to say that the Thai market is of huge importance to us.
Therefore, we are keen to build upon this success and become the nation’s leading shipping by providing the most satisfactory and convenient digital services in the market.”
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