Network streamlines shipping

The technology company that spearheaded the launch of a global transportation alliance for ocean carriers is charging ahead with its plan to design the de facto online reservation marketplace of the shipping industry.

GT Nexus, formerly Tradiant Inc., is scheduled to go live this week with its global booking and scheduling network for 12 ocean carriers, representing 30 percent of the US$1.3 trillion worldwide shipping volume. Companies such as Nike, Wal-Mart, and Japan's mammoth importer/exporter Itochu are among GT Nexus' customers.

The network is designed to provide a standardized booking, documentation, and tracking system for ocean shippers and carriers to cut costs from their transaction processes and improve customer service.

"Anybody that does business with these 12 carriers can now do business electronically," said Stacie Kilgore, senior analyst at Forrester Research Inc. "They can book electronically, and they can track shipments, which they couldn't do before. Once [a shipment] leaves the dock ... the whole process could take as long as 90 days to get their product. They had no visibility."

The company already has begun integrating its e-commerce solution with the back-end systems of the ocean carriers that have partnered with GT Nexus to launch what officials hope will be to the shipping industry what the SABRE system is to the airline industry.

"There is no SABRE for the ocean business that allows ... large importers and exporters to do business with multiple service providers," said Vijay Sundaram, vice president of marketing at GT Nexus. "We provide system-to-system connectivity that allows you to build a fat pipeline to move transactions through."

John Gurrad, vice president of business planning and e-commerce at Mitsui O.S.K. (U.S.A.), a Japanese ocean container company with North American headquarters in Concord, Calif., said his company projects it will be shifting a third of its transactions to GT Nexus' network in the next three years. As a result, Mitsui will cut its costs for processing transactions by as much as 50 percent, he said.

"Our own system resources ... were fully dedicated to other ongoing projects," Gurrad said. "They [GT Nexus] had the best technology and the best product already available. It will give us the transaction capabilities we're looking for but access to a larger market by virtue of the fact that it will be a portal."

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