2017 is drawing to a close, and like 2016 before it, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.
As a customer, your biggest challenge is in ensuring the reliability of your supply chain while keeping costs as low as possible to remain competitive. This is no small task and, as we approach a new year, there’s plenty for you to be prepared for in order to make sure you can deliver for your customers.
Here’s a look at the three key things we see coming up in 2018:
- Chinese New Year – You’ll no doubt have shipped out your stock in readiness for the Christmas period some time ago, but are you prepared for Chinese New Year? Taking place on February 16th, it will have a major impact on the Asia to Europe tradelane as all factories and production lines in China close for the week. They will gradually re-open following this, but production will be low. European customers in particular need to make sure they’ve got their stock ordered well in advance.
- Vessels aren’t made of rubber! – Of course, in order to make sure your stock is with you in time, you need to get it onboard a vessel and the impact of Chinese New Year will mean that this will be harder as there is only so much capacity to be found. Ships won’t expand, and your cargo will otherwise be left on the dock. The best way to tackle this is forward-planning – the earlier you’re organised and have your space booked the better chance you have of getting your stock to you in plenty time and the better chance of avoiding the busiest periods.
- Consolidation of carriers and the effect on rates – Over the past two years we have seen a strong consolidation of ocean carriers in the market and by the first quarter next year, in the Asia to Europe market, there will be 12 carriers where there once were 20. This means those that remain will be more rigid and rates will be more susceptible to change throughout the year. This is where a multi-carrier platform, like Twill, could make a big difference – because looking back at that key challenge for you as a customer, volatile rates make it harder for you to keep costs low and steady and with fewer carriers it could affect the reliability of that food chain.
At Twill, our digital multi-carrier platform allows us to secure cargo space for our customers at competitive rates. In a challenging and changing market, keeping an eye on trends and finding the best rates is our job. With the robust backing of a global player like Damco, we have an added negotiating power that can make the difference for our customers. This backing also affords us the unique opportunity to call upon a huge breadth of expertise, experience, and knowledge when needed.
2018 promises to be an interesting year and there are plenty of unknowns; but good planning is the best preparation and at Twill we want to help our customers keep their shipping as simple as possible.
-Maarten den Brinker, Global Head of Ocean Freight, Damco