Changes in geography, sectors and the supply chain are shifting the way global trade companies do business. Today, the Internet is more accessible throughout the world, competition is increasing, and the focus has shifted to being nimble and highly responsive to the market demands in choosing those partners that can provide the highest quality at the best price and terms.
These changes in the supply chain have created an “importers market” of sorts in which importers are driving the industry and competition, and are requiring tighter collaboration from partners.
Looking into 2014 and beyond, technology will continue to play a pivotal role in this transformation. With the accessibility of the Internet, a parts manufacturer in China will have the same level of access as one in India or even the United States, and an exporter from virtually anywhere in the world can take a photo of a product, scan it and transfer funds, all from the comfort of his or her couch at home, to the other side of the globe.
And the market for supply chain software is large and diverse in offerings and growing. Gartner predictions put the supply chain software market at more than $9 billion in 2013, up 7.7 percent from 2012. Meanwhile, global trade has been growing by an average of 9.5 percent a year for more than six decades, according to a recent Cushman & Wakefield white paper, “The Changing World of Trade,” which predicts by 2021, the total global trade figure could reach $45 trillion. This alone provides endless opportunities for businesses. Those who take advantage of available technology will no doubt reap the benefits of this exponential growth.
Winning global trade strategies will demand flexibility, diversity, scalability, real-time collaboration and automation. If there is one word for the future of supply chains in 2014, it is “one”—one central platform/repository to collaborate and share information online and across the organization and its channels.
Companies will continue to seek out processes and solutions, moving forward, that enhance deeper collaboration and communication with partners, and facilitate centralization of information across partners, departments and functions within an organization. With advanced technology solutions, companies no longer have to work off of paper documents to enter data into their existing silo systems.
Web-based technologies available today and in the future will allow for partners across the globe to log into the same system (with manageable and limited access and security) to enter the data. This saves time and money, and reduces the likelihood of errors. These solutions will also help companies manage the complex regulatory filing and documentation needs, with partners specific to each country in virtual real time, as if they were right next door.
Smart technology offers the promise of improved supply chain management, compliance, partner relationships and cash flow. And, as technology continues to make international trade possible for developing countries, competition and opportunities will also rise. Companies that don’t want to be left behind will need to rely on strong, tight-knit collaboration with partners online.
Having one centralized, web-based technology platform enables importers and their partners to store and share data across several functionalities, including imports and exports, and to also take advantage of, and manage, programs such as Foreign Trade Zones, free trade agreements, corporate responsibility initiatives and Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT).
A centralized platform allows companies to effectively manage data for all their clients, as well as handle different transactions and entries for customs, whether in Timbuktu or China.