Future trends in container trading

Shipping container trading

The emerging trends in container trading aim to offer enhanced customer service and increase productivity and operational efficiency. The demand for containers is rising with the increase in trade activities globally. A surge in container trading is seen as traders trying to fulfil the demands of the supply chain. Shipping companies are dedicated to buying, selling and leasing durable shipping containers in different types and sizes to facilitate global shipping. Let us learn more about container trading and emerging trends.

Use of shipping containers

Shipping containers are conex boxes that help circulate goods across the supply chain. Businesses in the trade industry significantly invest in importing and exporting raw materials and finished products. The goods travel long distances through intermodal transportation and must be stored in durable, rigid and appropriate-sized shipping containers. Different types of cargo, such as hazardous, fragile, perishables, bulk and non-bulk, need different conditions and handling during transit. 

Containers are built considering the cargo requirements and designed in different types and sizes to offer weather-resistance, temperature controls and customised containers for shipping. Consumers also repurpose the used or new shipping containers for storage or commercial use by converting them into warehouses, cabins, cafes, gyms and offices. Thereby, the use of shipping containers is manifold and various trade industries entirely rely on the container industry for procuring containers to carry out shipping.

What is meant by container trading?

Trading containers are a crucial source of driving global trade and commerce and carrying out the seamless inter-continental movement of goods. Container trading refers to the dynamic circulation of shipping containers across the supply chain by actively buying, selling and leasing containers. Shippers from across the globe constantly need reliable and credible shipping companies to carry forward the process of containerisation and deliver the goods to their destination. Container trading is essential in containerisation as containers hold the cargo and keep its integrity intact to prevent trade losses due to cargo damage. To ensure this, various trends in container trading are emerging and will continue to improvise in the future.

How does container trading work?

Container manufacturing industries build containers customised to fulfil industrial demands. Container modifications are also a part of the work in the container industry. These containers are bought by shipping companies that engage in containerisation processes. The aim is to own a container fleet so companies can later lease them out and get a better return on investment. Traders in long-term shipping also buy containers and can quickly sell them to any shipping company offering container buyback services.

Once bought, companies can put the containers up for leasing, and traders or stakeholders can lease shipping containers by signing a contract based on one of the many leasing agreements. The shipping container companies then deliver these empty containers to the nearest port using a truck. The containers are then loaded onto vessels to be sent off to the trader or leaser. Depending on the buyer’s or lessee’s budget and shipping requirements, the sold-off and leased containers can be new or used. 

Container trading is an essential trade activity and contributes to the growth of the global economy. However, it also faces many challenges as the prices fluctuate according to the increase or decrease in consumer demand and shipping rates. Additional investments lie in the maintenance and repair of the container, which is carried by the owner of the shipping container at the time of shipping. In the case of buying, the owner is well-defined, but it varies between the leaser and the lessee when it comes to container leasing.

How can data analytics and blockchain technology help in container trading?

These are among the few trends in container trading, helping the shipping industry immensely. Big data analytics uses technology to collect enormous sets of complex data and skim them to filter relevant insights. These datasets are collected from multiple systems and carry diverse information. It, therefore, allows traders, shipping lines and shipping companies to make accurate data-driven decisions. Big data analytics relies on blockchain technology to enhance the accuracy of data insights. Container manufacturing and shipping companies can use big data analytics to predict an influx of demands and market trends. Shippers and traders can use it to filter out which shipping companies offer credible and reliable shipping container services. Blockchain technology presents a historical data record that tracks assets and their lifecycle across the supply chain. By using this crucial data, big data analysis can filter out desired output to facilitate container trading and offer secure transactions for international shipping.

Who is involved in container trading?

  1. Container manufacturing company– A significant job of the container industry is to build containers from scratch using raw materials. Emphasis is laid on producing high-quality, sustainable, and durable shipping containers. Suppliers later take up these containers to source them off to relevant companies. Different shipping container types are built in different sizes, accommodating new shipping requirements. Companies needing large container fleets can directly buy it from manufacturing units and eliminate the supplier’s job.
  2. Container leasing companies– These suppliers buy bulk containers to lease or sell them off to other companies. These companies are the primary clients of container manufacturers as they directly deal with and purchase containers from them. Traders and shipping companies are the major clients of leasing companies.
  3. Shipping companies– Shipping lines carry out an immense amount of international shipping daily and therefore need to have large quantities of containers available for leasing purposes mainly. They do not engage in container trading significantly. They also buy container fleets directly from manufacturers.
  4. Container traders and individuals– Most traders are interested in leasing containers instead of buying them. However, traders with big businesses may buy containers as a one-time investment. Individuals willing to repurpose containers also buy used containers to convert and customise them according to their needs.

Emerging trends in container trading

  1. Integration of technology– Digitization is helping the container industry enhance efficiency and productivity. Digital twins, AI, and IoT, are being integrated to maximise the customer experience in container trading. Blockchain technology is the preferred mode of carrying container trading. It decreases the documentation process and helps track the status of containers in real time.
  2. Sustainable maintenance– There is a spike in demand for eco-friendly container services. Old and used containers are skimmed for parts that are in good health and extracted before discarding. Those container parts can be raw materials for new container manufacture or repairs. More stress is being laid on container refurbishment and recycling to minimise waste. 
  3. Manufacturing specialised containers– The changing cargo requirements have caused the container manufacturing industry to evolve and accommodate specialised features. Reefer containers have been built to assist the shipping of perishables, flat rack containers for oversized cargo, and 53ft containers for high-volume goods. Industries can even order customised containers according to their cargo needs.
  4. Container tracking– The need for transparency and visibility in the supply chain has increased, and traders demand to know the whereabouts of their containers. Fitting IoT sensors and tracking devices in shipping containers allows real-time tracking and monitoring of containers. It helps in knowing the location and internal condition of the containers.
  5. Supply chain analytics– It is utilised in forecasting container demand, inventory management, predictive maintenance and route optimisation to enhance operational efficiency in container trading.

What are the benefits of container trading?

  1. International shipping– The emerging trends in container trading makes it easier for traders to ship goods overseas and ensure secure delivery with the aid of technology. Shipping container companies network with container depots to lease out containers to locations they do not have a branch, so it becomes easy for traders to lease or buy containers from anywhere across the globe. 
  2. Flexibility– Container trading allows buying, leasing, and even selling used containers once they are out of utility for the owner. It helps traders to easily own containers without worrying about storing them for a lifetime.
  3. Scalability– Containers are available in different types and sizes. In the case of container leasing, the lessee can ask for a change in container type or dimension if the cargo requirements change. Traders can sell their used containers and buy other sets depending on current needs.
  4. Buyback– Many shipping companies offer a container buyback option where if a customer or trader has purchased containers, they are open to selling them back to the company after the container has exhausted its use. The companies offer a fair price to the trader under buyback policies.
  5. Economic growth– The container industry facilitates containerisation and immensely contributes to global economic growth. International trade helps in guiding the trade industry towards enhanced profitability and productivity.
  6. Cost-saving– Buying containers is a one-time investment that will benefit the trader for as long as it is used. Containers generally last 25 years if properly maintained and repaired. Leasing is a cost-effective solution for traders who cannot invest high amounts.
  7. Consistent availability– Since almost all countries engage in import and export business, shipping companies have established themselves to cater to global demands. The container industry is loaded with enough containers to minimise risks of container shortage and offer availability through all seasons of the year.
  8. Sustainability– Shipping containers are made of corten steel and can be reused, repurposed and recycled. The green revolution in the shipping industry is driving a call for sustainable trade. Therefore, shipping companies are adapting more suitable methods of manufacturing containers without much harm to the environment.

These are a few trends in container trading that emphasise an enhanced customer experience, supply chain sustainability, and the container industry’s dynamic functioning. 

LOTUS Containers is a stellar shipping container service provider across the globe. We are active members in container trading as we sell and lease different types of shipping containers.

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