Supply chain professionals plan to invest in and adopt forecasting and tracking systems next year, as the shipping industry faces a host of challenges heading into 2024, according to new reports from online logistics platform company Container xChange.

B2B and retail companies that rely on importing and exporting goods will face global challenges next year, and many of them are investing in and adopting technology to smooth out their supply chains, online logistics platform Container xChange says.

Planning ocean freight shipments in 2024 will run into several issues, as consumer spending caution, geopolitical impacts on trade routes, and supply chain diversification beyond China may disrupt the shipping industry and the steady supply of ocean shipping containers, Container xChange says in its second annual report on shipping industry trends.

Christian Roeloffs-Container-xChange

Christian Roeloffs, CEO, Container xChange

“In 2024, the shipping industry will grapple with reduced demand and oversupply [of containers], potentially leading to fierce competition, reduced profits, and possible mergers and acquisitions,” the report says. It adds, “Blank sailings are expected to rise in response to market volatility, while imbalanced container availability, driven by economic crises may continue.” Blank sailings occur when an ocean carrier cancels as planned port of call because of changing market dynamics.

Container shortages resulting in higher container prices are also a concern in some markets, such as those most affected by recent attacks against container ships in the Red Sea, the report notes.


“Some of the main ports in Germany like Rotterdam, Hamburg, Bremen are posting significant week-on-week price increases and, of course, the interpretation is that the situation in the Red Sea has contributed to this increase,” Christian Roeloffs, CEO of Container xChange, said this week.

He added, “The market anticipates that, especially in Europe, which is on the receiving end of import containers from the Middle East, India, southeast Asia and China, that container scarcity will lead to an increase in container prices and the market.”

‘China plus one’ supply chain strategy

The report also notes that 50% of companies expect to modify import strategies in 2024 that rely on a “China plus one” strategy of sourcing products from at least one other country in addition to China.

“Importers in the U.S.A. have diversified their sources to include Southeast Asia, India, and Pakistan,” Josilene Mattos, senior global account manager, container-shipping company Hapag-Lloyd AG, says in the report. “This strategic move has proven to be a successful business practice and should be sustained in the years to come.”


Much of that diversification will result in increased trade with India and other Southeast Asia countries, Roeloffs says.

“As it is difficult for manufacturers to move their entire value chain away from China, we expect an increase in cargo volumes, specifically of semi-finished goods, within Asia,” he says. “This increase in trade is expected between China and Southeast Asia, India, and other similar destinations, before finished goods are transported to the ‘consuming’ countries. Ultimately, this will benefit strong niche carriers and the smaller vessel sectors.”

Overall, companies are largely positive about the global container shipping industry’s growth this year, according to a recent survey Container xChange conducted of 1,200 supply chain professionals.

The survey found that nearly three-quarters, or 74%, of respondents foresee positive growth in the global container shipping industry this year. In addition, 53% said they expect container prices to increase in 2024.


The survey also found the following percentages of respondents investing in technology:

  • 31%, forecasting and planning.
  • 27%, trading partner collaboration and connectivity.
  • 24%, real-time visibility and tracking.
  • 18%, process automation.

Paul Demery is a Digital Commerce 360 contributing editor covering B2B digital commerce technology and strategy. [email protected].

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