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2021 – A Year to Remember for Shipping : Tarek Liddwaki, Hapag Lloyd AG

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As the year comes to an end, I can’t help but think of how pivotal and important this year has been. I tried to summarize in few points:

  1. The current supply chain / procurement practices of depending on few sources and going for the cheapest option are not sustainable. It takes one black swan like we have seen this year to negate any savings generated earlier.
  2. Customer experience is the name of the game going forward. The pace of innovation lately is very promising and great to see most players trying to compete on quality. What used to be a luxury quickly becomes an expectation. Happy to be working for Hapag-Lloyd where being number one for quality is the essence of our strategy 2023.
  3. Pricing is such an under-rated part of our business but such a critical part. From dynamic pricing, binding contracts, to ways to added value services, there is so much to be done and lots of ideas being tested, whether it is Hapag-Lloyd, competition, or third party providers.
  4. Companies don’t need to be the biggest to be profitable. What matters more is how agile is you.
  5. 2020/2021 has shown how some countries are able to leverage their capabilities to grow despite the pandemic. Example is India and how their exports has been booming. This didn’t come by chance, but part of a well-thought of plan (made in India).
  6. Digitalization is no longer a nice to have. The question is no longer whether to digitalize but how you use digitalization to transform the business. The best are those that are able to create an eco-system and leverage partnerships.
  7. Despite historical rates, service levels continue to be sub-par. Not because carriers don’t want to improve the service levels, but because improving service levels requires a change in the way the industry operates and a lot of collaboration between the customers and carriers. Example is no show and its impact on roll-overs.
  8. Great interest in shipping finally. I have been in this industry for close to 20 years and my contacts rarely recognized the brands of the shipping lines, let alone understood their business. Today, whenever I meet someone, I get a question or two whether on rates, how the economy is doing, or some article they read about shipping.
  9. Too many opportunities to disrupt this industry and the question is only whether the industry will be disrupted from within or from outside. Most likely, the answer is both and the successful cases will be when there is collaboration between the carriers and startups.
  10. This is the best time to be in this industry. Not because carriers are making money, but just because of the changes that the industry is going to.
  11. As for how 2022 will look like, it can go either way. What I have seen in the stock markets overall is the high volatility and if anything, I bet that volatility will continue to be high.

Wishing everybody a successful 2022 and a smooth supply chain!

Tarek Liddawi

Regional Commercial Senior Director | Revenue Optimization | Digitalization | Customer Experience, Hapag Lloyd

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