The process of distributing goods is changing at Internet speed. Considering the dynamics of the shipping industry, it is so important to be a leader in introducing improvements that support these changes, especially in the areas of Information Technology and Electronic Commerce (e-commerce). Turban (2002) suggest various models of Electronic Commerce including the Business-to-Business (B2B) one which reach up to 80 percent of all EC.
Kshetri and Dholakia (2002) describe B2B E – commerce as any transaction carried out between organizations in which at least one of the following activities takes place by electronic means: production, sales, distribution, marketing or delivery. In response to the market demands about bookings, container tracking, documentation and invoicing, main container carriers have been encouraged to develop and improved their “online” services, through the enhancements on their technical infrastructure (internet, intranet and internal systems).
On the other hand, there is also an increasing demand for business process simplification and automation by using EDI. Based on the above, it is concluded that the main trend within the sector regarding IT is focused on Electronic Commerce and Exchange Data Interchange. The company has gained high reliability on its service because of its timely and accurate updated information on the website.
In order to accomplish with customers’ requirements they have developed an eTMM is aware that e-commerce is also about providing customer service (Turban, 2002), therefore during the last two years the organization has focused their efforts in order to improve the website services and deliver to their customers a quality service among container shipping sector.
Despite the IT projects that TMM Lines has launched to achieve a competitive and efficient customer service through the internet website. The organization has faced a lot of problem to accomplish this goal. Some of the online services that are ongoing such as container tracking are not presented on real time since the interface between the internal system is not accurate even when an EDI process is undertaken. III. III Issues and Recommendations focused on IT
ITMM Lines is currently behind the sector as far as the E-commerce and EDI development is concerned, a proof of this disadvantage is that TMM Lines web page does not have the proper online service that are required by organizational customers. Although TMM Lines provides thru its systems reliable Taylor-made solutions for specific large customers to strengthen customer relationships, they have failed to consider the overall market needs regarding online services.
Based on the above it is suggested that TMM Lines start to develop a proper IT platform to implant, in a first stage a SDS strategy, which will enhance its productivity and will allow it to become in a “one stop shop” in this niche. Therefore, a suggested e-commerce model including the proper online services is included in APENDIX I as part of the overall IT strategy. The suggested model divides the IT project in three major stages (Releases). This developing scheme will enable TMM Lines’ managers to control and assess the results of the implementation in each phase.
Thus, it will be possible to redefine or improve the features of the project on time if the results do not comply either the company’s or the customers’ expectations. Good and Schultz (2002) recognize three main values that can be arisen from the accurate implementation of the e-commerce strategy within the service sector: a reduction in operational cost, an increase in the capabilities to build customer loyalty and improve customer satisfaction and an opportunity to add new revenue areas.
The expected results of this project shall be tangibles in the short-term. As soon as the modules start working properly the customers will be able to manage their business thru the website instead of contacting the customer service personnel. Therefore, automated customer services processes may result in a reduction of overhead costs and the improvement of the business profitability.
Above will enable them to break through the customers that are not currently enjoying and most important to reduce personnel costs, productivity and considerably decrease their overhead costs that is strictly related to reduce overhead costs in the organization. EDI system that enables their customers to do business directly from their own systems. APL is also has a high technology focus as far as the development of service on line is concerned. As well as Mearsk they offer a vast number of services through its website that enable the company to reduce its operational costs.