Company: APL, a business unit of Neptune Orient Lines, Singapore
Target audience: Retail and manufacturing shipping managers
Key Web executive: Hank Moreira, Webmaster
No. of employees who work on the site: Four IT people, plus assorted staff from the business side
Last major redesign: 2000
No. of pages in site: Approximately 2,000
APL.com follows the “show, don’t tell” approach, using plenty of demos and multimedia to get its point across and educate customers. It’s a strategy that Webmaster Hank Moreira said has evolved over the last five years as the company shifted its focus from hits to return on investment.
“The demos and multimedia provide a simple and highly effective visual introduction to our e-commerce suite. The aim is for them to be easily understood by customers across all industries and countries,” he said. “Shockwave Flash demos, for example, enhance customers’ learning of a particular tool and, more important, their understanding of its benefits. In addition, demos can also be played slow and repeated if the customer needs more time to understand how to use a particular service.”
And since the site serves customers worldwide, the focus is multinational—not just on the U.S. One of the easiest and most intuitive APL.com options is its
EBL Print feature, which lets customers print their Bill of Lading documents from anywhere in the world, speeding up the release of cargo, Moreira said.
When APL first introduced Internet BL Print back in 1996, Moreira said, customer acceptance was low because of the uncertainty over how banks would accept electronic documents.
“Today, electronic BLs is a core product offered by almost every major ocean carrier,” Moreira said.
The site’s strategy seems to be working. The total number of customers using APL.com’s e-commerce channels and the total number of transactions has increased significantly over the past few years, Moreira said.
For instance, APL.com’s HomePortal e-commerce feature launched in 1999, and fewer than 8% of the company’s customers used it at the time.
Today, that number is close to 50%, Moreira said. Overall, more than 45% of all customer transactions come through the Web site, he said.
—Karen J. Bannan
Shane Ginsberg: “What’s the schedule and specifics of a container vessel leaving Abu Dhabi for Hiroshima in the next two weeks? This site knows. APL.com is a comprehensive set of customer-centric applications that simply get down to business. Since these customers are in the logistics business, APL has smartly and elegantly focused on critical shipping information and services.”
Jakob Nielsen: “You know exactly what they do as soon as you come to the site. You see a simple photo of a container shipment so you know they handle container shipments. The site communicates the company’s own news very well. They put tracing right on the home page, which is smart. If you know that there’s one thing that a lot of people use the site for all the time, it should be right on that home page.”