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Descartes Releases September Global Shipping Report: August U.S. Container Import Volumes Increase Slightly from July and Continue to Track 2019 Performance

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Descartes Releases September Global Shipping Report: August U.S. Container Import Volumes Increase Slightly from July and Continue to Track 2019 Performance

Descartes Systems Group (Nasdaq: DSGX) (TSX:DSG), the global leader in uniting logistics-intensive businesses in commerce, released its September Global Shipping Report for logistics and supply chain professionals. In August 2023, U.S. container import volume increased slightly compared to July 2023, which is fairly consistent with the pattern that occurs in peak season in non-pandemic years. Despite the volume increase, port transit times remained close to their lowest levels since Descartes began tracking them. The U.S. West Coast labor situation is resolved. While the Panama drought is impacting some types of shipping, U.S. container imports do not appear to be affected to date. The September update of the logistics metrics Descartes is tracking shows continued consistency with 2019 results and signs that key challenges to global supply chain performance in 2023 have stabilized.

August 2023 U.S. container import volumes increased 0.4% from July 2023 to 2,196,268 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) (see Figure 1). Versus August 2022, TEU volume was lower by 13.2%, but up 2.5% from pre-pandemic August 2019. The growth in import volume over the first eight months of 2023 is within 2.1% of the same period in 2019.

Figure 1. U.S. Container Import Volume Year-over-Year Comparison

Source: Descartes Datamyne™

“In August, U.S. import container volume flattened and is still relatively consistent with the peak season patterns we would see pre-pandemic,” said Chris Jones, EVP Industry Descartes. “While the drought in Panama is affecting some shipping traffic, U.S. container import volumes do not appear to be impacted as volumes at the Gulf ports over the last two months have been at their highest levels this year (see Figure 2) and transit times have been consistently low.”

Figure 2: U.S. Gulf Coast Container Imports for 2023

Source: Descartes Datamyne™

The September report is Descartes’ twenty-fifth installment since beginning its analysis in August 2021. To read past reports, learn more about the key economic and logistics factors driving the global shipping crisis, and review strategies to help address it in the near-, short- and long-term, visit Descartes’ Global Shipping Resource Center.


Crafter’s Companion Improves Fulfilment Efficiency by 25% and Reduces Error Rate to Less Than 1% with Descartes Ecommerce Warehouse Solution

Descartes Systems Group, the global leader in uniting logistics-intensive businesses in commerce, announces that international craft retailer Crafter’s Companion has implemented Descartes’ cloud-based ecommerce warehouse management solution (WMS) to improve the efficiency of its warehouse operations. In addition to realizing higher customer satisfaction as a result of faster order processing, the company’s error rate in fulfilment has dropped significantly by increasing the accuracy of its existing pick and pack process using barcode-based scanning processes.

“At Crafter’s Companion, our customers are at the heart of everything we do and being a dynamic and agile business allows us to deliver solutions that really benefit our customers. With the new solution, we have achieved a 25% increase in fulfilment efficiency with an error rate of less than 1%,” said Mark Allsop, CEO of Crafter’s Companion. Sara Davies, founder and creative director of Crafter’s Companion, added: “We’re thrilled to be working with Descartes and implementing its ecommerce WMS in our global, 54,000 sq ft distribution center is an important milestone for the business. The software is helping us operate to our full potential, as we continue to service our amazing worldwide community of customers.”

Part of Descartes’ ecommerce solution suite, the Descartes ecommerce WMS helps direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce retailers drive significant efficiencies across order fulfilment processes to provide a remarkable customer experience. The solution helps ensure that retailers can ship on time, ship the right items, not oversell existing inventory, and have full transparency into warehouse operations. The solution is pre-integrated with major ecommerce platforms, such as ChannelAdvisor, Shopify Plus, Brightpearl and others, to accelerate implementation and time to value. Order information is automatically available to be executed via mobile-driven multi-order pick-and-pack strategies and then fed into Descartes and third-party parcel shipment systems.

“We’re proud to enable Crafter’s Companion to pursue its global growth strategy with scalable processes and highly accurate fulfilment operations,” said Dirk Haschke, VP & General Manager, Ecommerce at Descartes. “The company’s focus lies on its customers’ satisfaction and by ensuring efficient intralogistics processes, Descartes’ ecommerce WMS helps to fulfil the promises made.”


Descartes Acquires Supply Vision

Strengthens Shipment Management Capabilities on the Global Logistics Network

Descartes Systems Group (TSX:DSG) (Nasdaq:DSGX), the global leader in uniting logistics-intensive businesses in commerce, announced that it has acquired Supply Vision, a provider of shipment management solutions for North American Logistics Services Providers (LSPs).

Supply Vision has a long history of helping LSPs digitize their operations and manage the lifecycle of shipments. Headquartered in the US, the company provides modular applications that help LSPs coordinate shipments, from quoting, routing and booking through to final delivery. The Supply Vision platform also integrates with real-time visibility solutions, such as Descartes MacroPoint™, to provide LSPs and their end customers with enhanced information about shipment status and location. 

Supply Vision is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. Descartes acquired Supply Vision for up-front consideration of approximately $USD 12 million satisfied with cash on hand, plus potential performance-based consideration. The maximum amount payable under the all-cash performance-based earn-out is $USD 3 million, based on Supply Vision achieving revenue-based targets in each of the first two years post-acquisition. Any earn-out is expected to be paid in fiscal 2025 and fiscal 2026.

 About Descartes Systems Group

Descartes (Nasdaq:DSGX) (TSX:DSG) is the global leader in providing on-demand, software-as-a-service solutions focused on improving the productivity, performance and security of logistics-intensive businesses. Customers use our modular, software-as-a-service solutions to route, schedule, track and measure delivery resources; plan, allocate and execute shipments; rate, audit and pay transportation invoices; access global trade data; file customs and security documents for imports and exports; and complete numerous other logistics processes by participating in the world’s largest, collaborative multimodal logistics community. Our headquarters are in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada and we have offices and partners around the world. Learn more at

supply chain crisis


While U.S. port congestion and worker shortages have persisted for years, the continued ripple effect of the pandemic’s global supply chain disruption, coupled with the ecommerce boom and lack of retail inventory, has exacerbated the supply chain crunch to crisis levels. Throw in skyrocketing freight costs, container shortages, and the impending International Longshoremen Workers Union contract renewal and the outlook for short-term relief is well out of reach. Indeed, results from a recent benchmark survey from Descartes Datamyne indicate the supply chain crisis will continue well into 2022—tough news for those organizations without solid mitigation strategies in place.

MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR: The stuff economy

Multiple factors are contributing to the global supply chain challenges, but increased consumer demand for “stuff” is a major trigger. The pandemic has changed the economic fundamentals of consumer buying behavior, with Americans shifting away from experience-based spending (e.g., travel, events) towards stuff-based purchases focused on durable (e.g., furniture, exercise equipment) and nondurable (e.g., clothing, groceries) goods—and this buying trend shows no signs of slowing down.

According to U.S. import data, container import volume in November 2021 continued to pummel the supply chain: 34% higher volume than November 2019 and 12% greater than November 2020. In fact, only one other month in the prior two years (October 2020) had a higher container import volume. Transportation industry operators are operating at full capacity and are not expecting a decline in shipping demand from their customers well into 2022.

With TEU volume hovering between 2.4M and 2.6M TEUs monthly for the remainder of 2021 and likely continuing through 2022, capacity will be unable to keep pace with demand. The operational consequences of the global supply chain crisis—containers stacked in Asia, high container “rolling” rates, and unprecedented wait times for vessels at U.S. West Coast ports—are not going away any time soon.


For many retailers, stock levels are precariously low as supply chain woes continue. While manufacturing and distribution capacity declined, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, consumer demand in the U.S. grew and retailers have been unable to replenish their shrinking inventory of finished goods. In fact, the inventory to sales ratio decreased by more than 30% since 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Going forward, many retailers are deciding to hold more inventory as a hedge against greater supply chain uncertainty. As a result, retailers will be buying more than what they need in the short-term to build their stocks to larger acceptable levels. This strategy will continue to put more pressure on supply chains and logistics operations, even after the peak holiday season ends this year.

Like retailers, manufacturers are facing similar inventory challenges, from semiconductor chips for auto manufacturing to lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. In a recent fireside chat with investors, Hau Thai-Tang, the Chief Operations & Product Platform Officer at Ford Motor Co., noted that “what’s different about today versus prior years is that there’s no float or buffer in the inventory.” The pandemic-driven supply chain issues have “fundamentally changed the way we’re thinking about procurement and design,” shining a light on the shortcomings of the just-in-time inventory model for capital-intensive systems with long lead times and interdependencies on other industries, Thai-Tang said.

supply chain RESILIENCY: technology & data lead the way

Forward-thinking companies have recognized that the global supply chain crisis is more than a short-term problem, with the majority believing that bottlenecks could get worse over the next few years. So how are businesses coping with the supply chain crunch? Descartes’ benchmark survey examined the supply chain resiliency strategies of carriers, logistics providers, importers, and shippers from around the world to uncover how organizations are responding to the supply chain challenges.

The survey revealed that top-performing companies—logistics providers and importers alike—have pinpointed ways to navigate the chaos. Investment in technology is their primary strategy to keep the business moving forward in the face of ongoing and severe supply chain disruptions. Specifically, top performers favored global trade intelligence solutions to help them rapidly identify new suppliers, markets, customers, and trade lanes to optimize their existing supply chains.

The survey found that high-performing companies were investing in HTS and HS classification and landed cost calculation software to analyze the financial viability of new trade networks. It also found these companies were relying on denied party screening solutions to vet new trade chain partners, from suppliers and customers to logistics companies.

Investment in global trade data solutions enables international businesses to re-evaluate their supply chains rapidly and constantly, a process critical to minimizing delays and boosting resilience. In the current supply chain crisis, organizations that fail to adopt this strategy as best practice risk losing market share to more agile competitors.

looking ahead

The forward outlook is a good news/bad news story of economic and employment growth driving increased pressure on global supply chains. While the most recent employment numbers were shy of the Federal Reserve’s robust autumn predictions, the continued opening up of business will drive job growth and consumer spending, which will continue to exert pressure on global supply chains.

With the latest forecasts pointing to current supply chain bottlenecks persisting through 2022, companies involved in international trade must find ways to build supply chain resilience. One of the most effective strategies for retailers and other importers is to leverage global trade intelligence solutions. By expediting trade data analysis to determine the most expedient and cost-effective routes and modes of transport, global trade data solutions can help companies optimize global supply chains to build market differentiation, bolster customer satisfaction, and come out the other side of this crisis in good shape.


The Importance of Supply Chain Resilience

Acknowledging potential weaknesses in your supply chain before they are exposed by elements beyond your control is of critical value. With current events in mind, managing future supply chain disruptions will be an integral component of corporate strategy. Calling it Supply Chain Resilience, Supply Chain Disruption, or Business Continuity Management (from the ISO 22301 standard) does not affect the necessity of having strategies in place that may make the difference between following or leading in a disrupted economy, and even between surviving or folding.

To identify potential soft spots, a review should not be limited to a single product flow or single supply chain element. For any company, the next big disruption does not have to be a pandemic; it can be something minuscule on a global scale, yet have the same devastating effect on the ill-prepared in particular trade lanes or in a particular industry. Unpredictable is not a reason to be unprepared. Creating supply chain resilience is a holistic exercise that involves more than just a few savvy logistics people. HR, finance, compliance/legal (to name a few) are all stakeholders in a healthy case of business continuity management.

How then to build a strategy? Like any other strategy, the process seems logical: review, assess, and mitigate. In this particular case: 1) review your tradelanes, products, and materials flow by matching them against risk categories (i.e., labor, business risk, global trade, nature, and materials), 2) assess risks for each combination, and 3) mitigate risks by either changing behavior now or planning for alternate (sourcing) options should the anticipated risks become reality.

Trade Lanes and Risk Categories

The relevant components to review within the supply chain include the importing and exporting country or countries, the manufacturing locations, the finished goods, and the (raw) materials. Ideally, for finished goods and materials, the associated Harmonized System (HS) codes are made available. Scratch what does not apply and move to the following step where each of the ‘inputs’ is categorically reviewed.

As mentioned, this should not be an exercise limited to supply chain professionals. For example, labor risks can be associated with the likelihood of strikes, wage volatility, and the availability of appropriate labor resources—not necessarily areas that keep the supply chain brain occupied every day.

In a similar fashion, other resilience elements expand across different areas of expertise. Business risks relate to cybersecurity, corruption, counterfeit products, and the chance of entering into business with bad actors that are on (any of the) denied party lists.

Global trade accounts for the compliance requirements related to the shipment of goods (i.e., licenses, documentation, permits, etc.), associates the products with the various duties and taxes, and identifies if Free Trade Agreements(FTA) apply and how to qualify for preferential treatment.

Arguably the most unpredictable, but not the least expected risk to account for, is nature. It’s important to identify the various kinds of disasters that may hit: natural hazards, pandemics or epidemics, flooding, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, or drought can all play parts.

Lastly, consider materials. Understanding the market comes with insights into scarcity, sourcing locations, and price fluctuations.

Risk Assessment

Risk assessments match the input with the risk categories. For example, how vulnerable is the manufacturing location when it comes to labor regulations, corruption, or flooding? Is there an FTA in place that could potentially lower the import duty burden? Where in the supply chain can a cyberattack be most expected? In short, some homework is in order to create a thorough risk profile.

For many components, the sources are readily available, such as the Corruption Index at, labor statistics on Statista or NationMaster, or duty rate information from the various global trade content providers (or the WTO).

Building Resilience

As with cyber-security risks (PEN tests) or a regular laptop virus scan, supply chain risk assessments will point out the components that need immediate attention or, in this case, are a high priority for alternate sourcing or routing options. It’s then time to build that resilience.

Look for options by analyzing the market and tradelanes. Mine import and export data to identify alternative sources for goods and materials, even manufacturing locations. Map out alternative routes for products to get where they need to go. Document the reasonable options and share with as many people as possible—preparedness is, of course, an all-inclusive strategy.

Next and where possible: test run! Re-route shipments temporarily or source occasionally from a new supplier; in other words, make sure the alternative options are viable. In addition, communicate with external sources that would be part of continuity plans. Make them aware they are part of these plans; put people or suppliers on a retainer and try to agree on terms before disaster strikes so the projected costs can be anticipated better.

Lastly, keep those alternate plans up to date; otherwise, it may be too late to create and execute on alternate alternative plans.


Shipping Support Consolidated with Descartes ShipRush™

Descartes’ cloud-based ecommerce shipping solution ShipRush™ now provides customers increased visibility through its added less-than-truckload (LTL) freight management options.

The global logistics solutions provider announced the adding of LTL freight to the offering, further increasing efforts in streamlining shipping operations while supporting companies as they determine carriers and efficient service options.

“Descartes continues to drive ecommerce shipping innovation by bringing together LTL freight, parcel shipping and rate shopping on a cost-effective platform for ecommerce companies,” said Troy Graham, Senior Vice President, Business Development for Descartes Systems Group.

“These combined capabilities help companies, like ZUP, remove the guesswork from choosing the best combination of cost and service for their shipments.”

“As a multi-channel business, ZUP’s shipping needs are complex. We process both individual marketplace orders and large palletized orders for our network of dealers,” said Nick Kierpiec, director of operations for ZUP.

Beyond increased visibility with its all-in-one capabilites, ShipRush™  supports customers in determining the most cost-effective options for LTL management and usage. The platform assists in how and when to use LTL and can produce bulk shipping savings up to 50 percent while offering access to integrated Enterprise Resource Planning systems (ERP) and carrier rate selection processing.

“The ability to do everything in one platform, including process incoming orders and rate shop the best price and delivery options for parcel and LTL, saves us both time and money,” concluded Kierpiec.