In the past, each of those processes would have been handled by separate, non-integrated IT applications. But companies can no longer afford a fragmented approach. They are looking for a one-stop shop for their GTM solution. They want a single vendor that can provide a common platform for managing all of their critical requirements.
Two trends are making the dream possible. One is the growing tendency of executives to view their supply chains from the perspective of total landed cost. Instead of basing their choice of supplier on wage rates or other expenses associated with a particular country, they are taking into account such elements as logistics expense, buffer inventory and other steps needed to offset the risk of operating longer supply lines. At the same time, they are broadening their view of the GTM landscape to embrace all of the locations where they source or sell product.
A second key trend is the evolution of software that makes an effective, modern-day GTM program possible. Today's technology enables a standard process for managing all trade lanes, even as it allows for country-specific regulations. No longer must a trader implement point solutions for multiple countries, as varied as those customs regimes might be. Five years ago, that wasn't the case.
Of course, striking a balance between commonality and specificity can be a tremendous challenge. So GTM solutions have to be highly configurable. They should be able to handle a company's unique set of commodities and trade documents. There's simply no way to fashion a GTM system out of the box that can handle all possible requirements in every part of the world. Our philosophy at Amber Road is to build a strong core capability while allowing for the peculiarities of each customer implementation.
All global traders today share one major concern: the need for resiliency. The recent spate of natural disasters, port closures, political upheavals and other types of supply interruptions have brought risk management to the forefront. More than ever before, companies need the ability to make real-time decisions in the face of changing conditions. In today's fiercely competitive retail world, stockouts must be avoided at all costs.
Just one unanticipated event could call for a container to be booked on another vessel at the last minute. Or an alternative supplier for a critical component might need to be found within a matter of hours. When the bird flu outbreak occurred in Asia, for example, one of our customers used our sourcing tools to quickly understand the total landed cost of buying from other countries. This is the kind of ability a GTM platform can provide.
The notion of flexibility extends beyond disaster response. It's just as important for a company to be able to on-board a new supplier, or otherwise shift its upstream supply chain to meet evolving customer demands. Acquisitions are yet another event that can severely disrupt operations if they aren't properly addressed by the right GTM solution.
Companies must be able to monitor the performance of their key suppliers on an ongoing basis. A global supply chain, involving the hand-off of raw materials, components and finished goods between multiple entities, contains precious little margin of error. Knowing which partners are performing well, and which ones aren't, and using that information to make intelligent supply-chain decisions, creates resiliency.
The challenge, of course, extends beyond having the right software platform. For global companies, the key lies in matching business processes with the available technology. Collaboration among internal departments, as well as with outside partners, is essential to running a successful GTM program. Managers should be pursuing the same silo-busting strategy that the latest IT solution allows.
Supply chains aren't becoming any less complex. To stay competitive and meet corporate goals for profit, companies will continue to seek opportunities outside their traditional borders. China and India, for example, are no longer just low-cost sourcing locations; they're quickly becoming lucrative markets for overseas sales.
In the years ahead, GTM software will prove to be an essential tool in helping companies to buy and sell goods across international borders. For all the sophistication of multinationals, much of today's global trade remains paper-based. Transactional information is re-keyed between five and 10 times as it moves through the supply chain. Each incident wastes precious resources and magnifies the potential for error.
A GTM solution avoids this need for manual intervention; it turns paper into bits. At the same time, an automated environment, with its extensive database of market intelligence, can help companies to reap the benefits of free-trade agreements. There are now more than 500 FTAs in the world, and their number continues to grow. Supply chains must be aligned to take full advantage.
In the world of global supply chains, too much pure profit is being left on the table. Tomorrow's winners of world trade will be the ones who can snap it up.
Keywords: international trade, global logistics, supply chain, supply chain management, logistics services, logistics management, logistics & supply chain, 3PL, third party logistics, import-export compliance
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