Shipping Doesn't Have to Be Groundhog Day
By Justin Lee
Have you ever seen that Bill Murray movie, "Groundhog Day?" It's the one where the cynical TV weatherman finds himself reliving the same day over and over again. He tries with all his might to make it work to his benefit but ultimately accepts that things are never going to change. Well, that used to be my day job!
“Here we go again” was a phrase I often repeated during my five years in Transpacific pricing on the carrier side. Every season seemed insanely repetitive in that: 1) we attempted to implement GRIs at the same times throughout the year, only to adjust rates right back downward to improve vessel performance. 2) We fought round after round with our competitors for the same cargo in a zero-sum game. 3) Throughout this cyclical process, despite all the work that was being done, 30%+ of what was contracted wouldn't even show up. The same inefficiencies that were seen year after year were accepted as “this is just the way shipping is" rather than be corrected or improved upon.
Coming to NYSHEX has been a complete about-face in that regard. Instead of accepting inefficiencies as a way of life, we work hard to improve them. Best of all, we’re not doing it alone. We collaborate with innovative shippers and carriers on a day-to-day basis to actually make our industry better. Whether it be the pain points of unreliability, distrust, rate volatility or invoice inaccuracy, we tackle it all. Sure, we could have fixed an easier problem to solve and, call us crazy, but we truly believe if we work hard and collaboratively enough, we can solve any challenge!
Running the NYSHEX member services team allows me to sit on the front-lines every day and speak with shippers. I not only hear of the frustrations they see in the shipping industry, but I also see how NYSHEX truly adds value and improves their everyday work life. Here are three of the top value adds our members tell us we address for them.
1) We Add Trust
Guaranteed space and equipment are a definite on NYSHEX. Knowing that what you book is what you’ll get will always make planning your supply chain significantly less difficult. But NYSHEX goes even farther and allows shippers to even mend damaged carrier relationships. We see shippers who were previously never able to get bookings from, or who swore they would never ship again with a particular carrier, feel secure that they can now do so with NYSHEX, thanks to the mutual guarantees.
2) We Remove Price Uncertainty
GRIs, Peak Season Surcharges, an additional Fuel Recovery Charge - who can keep up? Whether negotiating rates on a monthly or annual basis, shippers tell us they don't have full confidence that what’s in their contract is going to be the actual number they get billed. Locking in rates based on sail date which are subject to zero fluctuation allows NYSHEX shipper members to get a better night’s rest. Having a fixed and all-inclusive rate eliminates any room for invoice disputes.
3) We Give Shippers a Voice in How it's Done
At NYSHEX it is never, “this is our service, take it or leave it.” We’re not building a product on our own, but jointly working with all major stakeholders to come to a consensus regarding what is going to be benefit everyone. Whether it be through the NYSHEX Board (comprised of shippers and carriers), quarterly Member Council meetings, or regular member interviews, we give all shippers who want one, a voice in how contracting should be done.
It's been nearly three years since I have had to look for that groundhog. If you've worked with me, you know that it takes a heck of a lot for me to say the word, "No." I'm pretty sure that the deep-rooted desire to solve complex problems is part of the job description to join Team NYSHEX. I no longer have to say “here we go again,” as I now have the opportunity to stop accepting inefficiencies, and can finally do something about them.