Data and Demand

Data and Demand

Date: 10/09/2020

Why isn’t everything available everywhere? If you’ve ever enjoyed Tim Tams in Australia, you may wonder why you can’t get these incredible chocolaty treats in Frankfurt or London. Given the remarkable interconnectivity of global trade, the advanced technologies providing BCOs and exporters with accurate and timely visibility throughout their supply chains, it may be a surprise when we realise that we don’t have access to a wider, more global variety of finished goods.

"There’s a whole lot of everywhere in just about everything"

To answer the question, it’s important to start with a basic truth: there’s a whole lot of everywhere in just about everything. For example, if you buy a bottle of orange juice in London, there’s a good chance the glass for that bottle came from China, the label from North America, and the orange flavouring from Italy (and so on). The smartphone in your pocket likely includes semiconductors and components that have circumnavigated the globe many times over before landing in your hand.

DP World helps customers realise incredible visibility across their supply chain, as tools like high bay storage and autonomous port cranes significantly enhance efficiency at critical junction points of global trade.

In the UK, for example, DP World’s Where’s my container? (WMC) tool gives customers complete visibility of their cargo.

The digital platform provides detailed milestones about every step of a container’s journey. From the time it’s discharged from a vessel, to the time it leaves the terminal, and all the stages in between. It even shows when the container is returned to port so cargo owners can monitor demurrage costs.

So, why can’t we have Tim Tams in London? What are the key hurdles that deny certain goods the same sort of widespread distribution that’s available to others? The short answer: data.

Data helps BCOs and exporters to better predict the lucrative nuances of global demand

Which goods are available where is a function of that most foundational of factors: supply and demand. The global supply chain is very good at moving goods from the point of production to areas where there are large confirmed orders – or where demand is so robust that buyers can stake tens of millions of pounds through Purchase Orders that are often placed months before the first pallet hits the road, rails or sea.

This sort of verifiable need applies incredibly well to shipping raw goods for manufacturing, where the scale of mass production justifies transporting 40-foot containers around the world. This system also works very well for finished goods that sell in high volume or at a high value. A simple walk through the fruit aisle in winter can drive that point home better than this blog ever could.

For such high volume or high value goods, supply chain visibility is key to ensuring goods reach their final destination in time. Again, data is key.

With WMC, cargo owners can opt to receive a text or email alerts on urgent or time-sensitive containers. They know instantly when a container’s status has changed which enables them to forward plan and manage their supply chain more efficiently. Additional historical data also provides detailed, time-stamped inventory information which is important for businesses to verify and manage supply chain costs.

The next step for DP World is to integrate WMC data directly into customers’ and freight forwarders’ own systems. It’s part of DP World’s digital journey to provide smart end-to-end logistics.

But as we move away from commodities and into more niche or speciality items, the business case for finished goods becomes more difficult. While there may be robust demand for a niche item, validating that demand in a way that enables players throughout the supply chain to make major bets months in advance can prove difficult.