With modern information and telecommunications technology, new methods of shipping over the internet have emerged. In particular the development of portals has influenced shipping. Portals exist for specific industries, initially often established to exchange quotations and purchase orders between suppliers and vendors in that industry, but followed by functionalities such as transport orders to be created and exchanged from the portal, mostly through industry-specific XML messages.
Specific shipping portals also exist, especially in the maritime sector. They allow traders and manufacturers to communicate through the portal with transporters, especially freight forwarders and carriers such as the main shipping lines. Bookings, shipping instructions and delivery information can be sent to the transporters. The portal can collect tracing and tracking information from the carriers, and provide its clients with comprehensive overviews of its shipping portfolio.
Shipping portals are web-based communities that allow access to multiple carriers through a single site and on a global level.
Port and airport community systems have partly a similar functionality, but they are focussed on a specific port community and its connections with the hinterland.
Many portals use UNECE and UNCEFACT Recommendations and code lists and UN/EDIFACT messages.
Although shipping portals are private business initiatives, they make a contribution to trade facilitation by harmonizing and standardizing exchange of information through the transport chain, and thus ensuring the availability of timely information to authorities.