March 2014 | Commentary | Checking In

A New Spin on Global Trade

Tags: Global Logistics

Keith Biondo is the publisher of Inbound Logistics magazine.

Some important trends shaping global logistics and supply chain activity may not get the wide coverage they deserve. Sure, plenty of analysis and commentary point to the usual—changing economies and currency values impacting supply lines, nearshoring and reshoring, burgeoning consumer markets affording growth opportunities to those with agile enterprises and flexible supply chains, and lane-altering transport infrastructure—such as the envisioned impact of the Panama Canal expansion—coming online. Inbound Logistics and other content sources continue to cover all these issues.

But what about trend-worthy, frontline information coming straight from our readers? For example, many readers who do business with some monster brands report that sales and growth are more frequently happening outside the United States. That's the case for direct sales leader Amway, as we reported in The Direct Sales Supply Chain: Where There's a Will, There's Amway (January 2014). Although the company name is short for American Way, the majority of its business activity is outside the United States. That trade shift will continue to grow.

But that shift is not limited to just the monsters. IL frequently hears from small companies interested in leveraging global opportunities. Over the past few months, we've received requests for advice from a mid-sized British company needing several U.S. DCs; a Canadian food producer seeking a logistics partner to manage product originating in China destined for EU consumption; a start-up U.S. concern with global vision seeking logistics partners in Europe, Australia, and Korea; and a Tier 3 automotive manufacturer needing a 3PL to penetrate Latin America. The increase in these types of reader requests indicates this is only the tip of the global trend line.

While global trade used to be the province of large companies, that is no longer the case. Today, small companies are able to tap into world-class technology to help them go global. Global Trade in the Key of GTM reveals how global trade technology offers low barriers to entry, reduces costs, and provides a high level of forward and backward visibility and control.

For any sized company, doing business globally means stepping back and taking a mile-high view of each country's global logistics quotient. Our original research in the Global Logistics Guide sheds light on the characteristics of international trading partners, and helps put some micro trends in perspective.

These global logistics trends offer you opportunities. But they also drive the need for better global supply chain control on your part. That means more investment, stepped-up training, better technology, more capable transport and logistics partners, and, most importantly, a change in enterprise philosophy. It does not matter where on the globe you trade. If you match demand signals closely to supply, and align your enterprise to support that business strategy... well, you know the rest.