2 min read

Shipping Lines Can't Stand Small Customers

Shipping Lines Can't Stand Small Customers

Ocean shipping lines hate small customers. Freight networks have been operating at or over capacity for months. Cargo is delayed, little is moving with any sense of speed or efficiency. Shipping lines are letting the facade fall - not all customers are made equal. I have received numerous emails over the past months requesting preferential handling of very important or high-value/volume customers. Those shippers are more important than others. I have even heard something like: "if [megastore chain] does not get their cargo quick, they will have empty shelves and will not be able to be as competitive in their industry. We need to focus on their freight". I interpret this all as megastore/large shipper > small business. The lines act like they hate small customers. These large customers are preferentially handled with no extra charges. A small business that is requesting their freight is handled especially pays big money for that right. So why do the large shippers get preferential treatment?

Big players rule the world. The freight world is run by Walmart, Amazon, and Target (plus a bunch of other large shippers). Small shippers are lucky to get the privilege of riding on the line's ships, even after paying an exorbitant amount in freight charges. Small shippers have almost no chance of competing in this world of bigger and more. Small shippers are at a serious disadvantage - nobody wants them. I'll be the first to say a ship full of one shipper only (like a dedicated Target ship) would be pure bliss to work with something that simple. Large shippers aren't preferred for ease though, they are preferred out of fear.

"They're a big account we can't afford to lose"

Lines have created a tight spot for themselves. Large piles of one shipper are efficient for both the terminals and the vessel operators. They are enticing and potentially lucrative but at the detriment of both the line and small shippers. The lines trap themselves into bending over to please the needs of one specific customer who holds a large percentage of their income. (Basic business says don't let a customer become too large a percentage to prevent this from happening). The fear of losing that customer drives the lines to keep their business at any cost. Small shippers just can’t compete. Small shippers can’t throw their weight around with threats to leave the line. Big customers win, small loose.

Small customers deserve the same rights and treatment as their leather counterparts. Freight deserves to move freely and efficiently across networks. Shipping lines need to stop the perpetration of squashing smaller businesses to help the larger ones. The shipping line's job is to move freight fast and affordably regardless of who the customer is.

My vision is their all freight moves smoothly and efficiently through freight networks, and small shippers can compete on a global stage and have the ability to work with a shipping line directly. My vision is that at the tap of a button, freight moves fast.