SHANGHAI Jan 4 The world's largest container
shipping line Maersk has teamed up with Alibaba to
allow shippers of goods to reserve space on its vessels through
the Chinese e-commerce giant, in a move that bypasses
traditional middleman freight forwarders.
Maersk, a unit of Denmark's A.P. Moller-Maersk,
began offering the service to Chinese shippers on Alibaba's
OneTouch booking website on Dec. 22, a spokeswoman for the
shipping line said on Wednesday.
Shippers traditionally go through freight forwarders to book
space on container ships, but shipping lines like Maersk are
allowing cargo owners to directly book shipments via the
And e-commerce companies are increasingly venturing into
logistics activities in a bid to gain better control over their
supply chain networks. Amazon.com has registered a
Chinese unit as a freight forwarder and has leased aircraft to
handle more of its own deliveries in the United States.
Alibaba, owner of China's largest e-commerce platforms, has
been making inroads into logistic services in recent years by
taking stakes in couriers and buying warehouses. The company was
not immediately available to comment.
Maersk said this was part of the shipping line's strategy to
provide digitised services for customers and that it plans to
launch more pilot programs on third party portals.
Acquired by Alibaba in 2010, OneTouch targets small and
medium-sized Chinese exporters with online services such as
customs clearance and logistics. It also allows them to book air
freight and parcel delivery services and supports its parent's
Alibaba.com business-to-business marketplace.
"The initial launch ...allows existing Alibaba OneTouch
(registered) users to lock in the price of required cargo spaces
on selected routes by pre-paying a deposit amount," the Maersk
"This service will be offered on selected routes and ports
It is currently offered on routes from eight Chinese ports,
including Shanghai and Ningbo, to ports in Europe and Asia,
according to the OneTouch website.
(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)