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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Shiptrading platforms

I have noticed recently the plethora of new shipbroking/trading platform websites now available.

They are a curious phenominon because I am not sure any of them are actually being used for what they are intended (to be used for)

You know the sites - they offer the ability to enter an open cargo and open ships position or a ship for sale. A platform for shipowners, charterers and shipbrokers to meet (virtually speaking)

The reason i say they are curious is for a number of reasons..

1) Some of them claim to make no money! (then why be in business? Why advertise?)
2) Others, it appears the only way they make money is via company subscriptions..
I find this a bit cynical because really all they offer is a database of other similar companies and this database can be bought quite seperately rather than having to become a member of one of these sites.
3) Not many of these sites have open access to the site owners - who are they and what is their contact numbers - just incase you are not happy with the service?
4) None of these sites seem to be offered by any substantial entity ie well known company.

All the above aside - i am still uncertain that the core service they offer is of any use because of the secretive way in which the majority of business is done in the world of international shipping.

The only theory I have left is that these sites are offered by people or companies (anonymous) and the webasites are purely designed for 'lead' generation. Ie Once a shipowner or a charterer signs up for the site - within days they will be contacted by a supposedly unrelated but authentic shipbroking firm ready to offer their services. This is quite smart and a good way to generate leeds for clients who otherwise dont know how to find shipbrokers!

I have been contacted by one of the owners of a said site who seems genuine in their efforts to produce something useful. I wonder of any of the other site owners would care to shed some light on this new (and evolving) form of website trading and let us know what they are trying to achieve and how they make money etc etc.

I would be more than interested to know if the sites are being used effectively for 'trading' as they purport to be or if these sites are still trying to work out how to make money!

So if you own one of these sites kindly either reply to this post or send me a private email and lets discuss the business's you run and what clients can expect in terms of helping them improve their own business's. Are fixtures being generated via your website?

I would be more than happy to jump on the bangwagon and promote any of the sites should
this be the case because their are always new ways of doing business.


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