For Shipping Industry, Social Media Is Here To Stay [REPORT]

Marine and offshore e-marketplace, ShipServ, this week released the results of its annual Internet Use in Shipping Survey at the SmartShipping conference in Singapore. This year’s report revealed that the vast majority of respondents believe that e-business brings positive benefits while education and trust are probably the greatest hurdles facing the industry.

The annual survey looks at the use of the internet and e-commerce in the shipping industry with the goal of building an understanding of how trends in business-to-business e-commerce are impacting the maritime sector.

The results of this year’s survey show fast growing and observable trends in the way shipping industry exec’s use the internet, with many respondents embracing new tools and working methods to adapt to todays technologies and industry conditions.

The survey’s key findings show that many more marine buyers and suppliers are using internet as a source and to transact, with significant (15%) increase in usage between 2010 and 2011.  The survey also found that users consider peer reviews on suppliers and the selection of trusted websites as the two most important factors influencing a purchasing decision from an internet provider.  Additionally, respondents showed that faster transaction speed was greatest benefit of doing business over the internet.

Meanwhile, the use of social media applications in the shipping industry are here to stay, according to the report.  Showing the biggest shift since 2010’s results, the survey found that 75% of respondents said they would increase their use of social media in a business context and over 50% of respondents said they use mobile web or application every day.

“This survey is unique in the shipping industry and it highlights not just the increasing usage of the internet but also the tangible benefits it brings to end-users,” said Mark Warner, Shipserv’s Director of Business Development.  “While we expected to see the uptake of e-commerce grow, there were some welcome new developments. For example, there has been a fundamental shift in attitudes over the last 12 months as shipping industry users adopt the tools and methods of social media – such as mobile apps, reviews and ratings – into their daily business practices online.”

In other key findings, the survey noted that internet search plays an increasing role in buying decisions. Around 50 percent of purchasers begin the buying processes on the internet using sources as Google.

One of the biggest obstacles in the adoption of e-commerce in the shipping industry remains a lack of trust in conducting business over the internet, but the report noted that there has been a noticeable decrease in lack of understanding online sources and tools.

“We have seen a very noticeable shift in attitude in the understanding of the benefits associated with e-commerce.” added Mr Warner. “People are no longer asking why they should use it but asking how they can use it to gain the biggest advantage. This is a seismic change. ”

The full results of the survey can be downloaded here.