Ecommerce knows no borders, so taking a flexible and integrated approach to international trade is essential, says AEB’s Geoff Taylor.

Official figures report a five-year peak in the number of UK companies in administration, with the media citing Brexit uncertainty and a struggling high street as contributing factors.

It’s another blow for retail leaders, who are working hard to reinvent the role of stores and tap into the potential of ecommerce developments in their transforming sector.

It also means that generating transactional savings throughout retail supply chains while increasing the processing speed of ecommerce orders remains a key priority – not only to counter rising manufacturing costs, shrinking margins and global disruptions, but also to ensure overall business growth and competitiveness.

For the consumer, ecommerce knows no borders, so retailers’ marketplaces have become international.

But global trade is a complex and dynamic environment. When Donald Trump initiated a trade war last year, imposing new customs tariffs on a variety of products, the consequences for the business community were drastic.

“Today, retailers need to be ready for any order – from anywhere and to everywhere – without knowing how the regulatory framework may change tomorrow”

Uncertainty around Brexit developments is another consideration.

Today, retailers need to be ready for any order – from anywhere and to everywhere – without knowing how the regulatory framework may change tomorrow.

Managing changes in global trade, and managing them quickly, has therefore become a crucial factor for success.

In the digital age, it’s clear that this is only possible with powerful IT support.

But, while the retail industry plays a leading role in the digitisation race across sectors, the area of global trade still shows great gaps.

“Cross-border performance is essential for successful and resilient supply chains, and relies on a flexible and integrated global trade IT landscape”

And this is exactly where great optimisation potential lies, promising transactional savings, greater processing speed and risk mitigation.

Cross-border performance is essential for successful and resilient supply chains, and relies on a flexible and integrated global trade IT landscape.

As the pace of change increases, supply chains must adapt ever faster – especially in retail.

Integrated communication between IT systems and involved parties forms a basic prerequisite for performance.

However, at the moment, retailers often still suffer from a scattered landscape in global trade, including service providers, master databases and a combination of manual processes and software solutions – rendering large parts of the operation non-transparent.

This prevents retailers from managing global trade risks and opportunities fast enough to generate value, for example by reacting to new tariffs, sanctions or trade agreements, establishing new trade lanes or on-boarding new partners.

It’s high time to modernise and tap the potential of digitising global trade, reaping great returns on investment and added value for business.

Geoff Taylor AEB

Geoff Taylor is managing director of AEB in the UK

For more information, visit aeb.com/borderless