In terms of innovation in supply chain and logistics, the introduction of the shipping container is perhaps unrivalled as regards its impact upon the industry and the global economy. The reduction in transport costs which it brought about enabled retailers and manufacturers to access low cost products and labour forces in previously remote parts of the world, leading to a revolution in the way that supply chains operated.

The adoption of the new technology was not, as many would expect, quick and without challenge. Companies had experimented with unitizing freight for several decades before but it was not until the 1950s when the containerization trend started to take root. The way in which shipping containers transformed the industry has many lessons to the disruptors of today. This paper analyses what present day disupters can learn from the containerization of the shipping industry.