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U.S. Metros With the Most Small Businesses Per Capita

small businesses

U.S. Metros With the Most Small Businesses Per Capita

Small businesses across the United States face dire circumstances following the COVID-19 outbreak. While each individual small business might seem inconsequential to the broader economy, in aggregate, these firms are critical to the country’s financial well-being.

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, small businesses with fewer than 50 employees makeup approximately 95 percent of American business establishments and employ 40 percent of private sector workers. These 7.4 million small businesses (or 2.27 per 100 residents) also account for roughly a third of total private sector payroll.

Unfortunately, research shows that small businesses and their workers are particularly vulnerable during recessions and other periods of economic hardship. A recent survey conducted by the New York Fed found that even prior to the pandemic, 64 percent of small businesses faced financial challenges in the preceding 12 months. The same survey reported that a two-month loss of revenue would cause 86 percent of firms to take a serious financial action, such as using the owner’s personal savings, taking out a loan, or cutting staff salaries.

Moreover, small businesses in some industries have a larger economic impact than others. Among small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, those in accommodation, food services, and retail trade—coincidentally, the sectors hit hardest by COVID-19—employ the most workers. These industries, combined, account for more than 16 million employees and $362 billion in annual payroll.

Like the businesses themselves, small business employees are also more financially vulnerable than their large-firm counterparts. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that fewer small business employees have access to retirement benefits, healthcare benefits, paid sick leave, life insurance, or disability insurance. Troublingly, only half of employees in small businesses have health insurance through their company and only two-thirds have paid sick leave.

While small businesses are a critical component of the national economy, some parts of the country depend more on small businesses than others. To find the metropolitan areas with the most small businesses, researchers at Construction Coverage, a review website for workers’ compensation insurance and construction software, analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The researchers ranked each location according to the number of small businesses per 100 residents. Researchers also included statistics on the total number of small businesses, the number of retail, accommodation, and food service businesses, and the share of workers who are self-employed. For the analysis, small businesses were defined as those employing fewer than 50 workers.

To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis. Additionally, locations were grouped into the following cohorts based on population size: large metros (1,000,000 residents or more), midsize metros (350,000-999,999 residents), and small metros (less than 350,000 residents).

Here are the large metropolitan areas with the most small businesses per capita:

For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on Construction Coverage’s website: https://constructioncoverage.com/research/cities-with-the-most-small-businesses

car shipping

Effects of COVID-19 Outbreak on the Car Shipping Industry

There is hardly an industry in the world that hasn’t been affected by COVID-19. While tourism and travel industries have arguably suffered the most, industries related to shipping are not far behind. So, what precisely are the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on the car shipping industry, and how will it behave in the following months? Well, that is what we are here to find out.

How COVID-19 affects car industry

To get a good understanding of the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on car shipping we first need to take a look at the car industry itself. After all, a big part of car shipping is closely connected to car manufacture and sale. So it stands to reason that any effects that the coronavirus outbreak has had on the car industry will have a ripple effect on car shipping.

Reduced production

The best way to imagine the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is to envision it as a wave. It started off in China and then made its way into numerous countries. This means that it did not affect all countries at the same time. Therefore, there is a notable time difference when the COVID-19 started effecting companies depending on where those companies were situated. And there will be a notable time difference to when these companies will be able to start recovering from the effects of COVID-19.

Worker safety

The first effect that COVID-19 has had on both the car industry and the car shipping industry is the mandatory safety standards for workers. Standards such as:

-Physical distancing.

-Hand sanitation.

-Mandatory masks and protective gloves.

-Increased ventilation.

Countries were quick to instate these measures, as they are the most cost-effective. And they will also be the last ones that the countries are able to lift. This, as you might guess, makes the overall industry a bit slower. Not only do workers have to take the time to adhere to these regulations, but, there is also an increase in state inspections that ensure that those regulations are met.

Little to no demand

As the coronavirus pandemic got stronger, the economy of the affected countries grew weaker. After it became evident that the safety measures weren’t enough, countries turned towards lockdown and curfews. This has led to a significant drop in trade. The full economic repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic are still hard to quantify. But, if there is one thing we can say for sure, it’s that the demand for cars has plummeted as a result. People were fearful of losing their jobs. And seeing that 22 million Americans claimed for unemployment benefits as a result of COVID-19, those fears were not without ground. And the last thing that unemployed or scared people do is go out of their way to purchase cars.

The following effects of COVID-19 outbreak on the car shipping

So, with the reduced trade and halted production, what were the following effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on car shipping? Well, not good. There is hardly a shipping company that hasn’t taken a hard financial hit due to worldwide lockdowns. Companies that also deal with medical shipping did fair a bit better since a lot of countries urgently needed medical supplies. But, when it comes to car shipping, companies have slowed down to a crawl.

International shipping

Since almost 80% of car manufacturers have some part of their production done in China, they were among the first industries to feel the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on car shipping. Once the outbreak started it was almost impossible to ship cars or car parts outside of China as the country soon went into lockdown. This scenario, as we mentioned, occurred in subsequent countries as they became affected by COVID-19. International trade, and therefore international shipping of cars, has slowed down considerably. Now, since it is fairly safe to ship cars even during COVID-19, companies managed to tackle a large number of shipments scheduled before the COVID-19 outbreak. But during the hiatus of the pandemic, international car shipping was practically non-existent.

Local shipping

When it comes to local shipping, car shipping companies are doing a bit better. Companies that are situated in a country with a decent local economy had no trouble dealing with local car shipping needs. After all, intrastate shipping has far fewer restrictions during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Moving industry

A big part of car shipping is related to the moving industry. After all, one of the reasons why people choose to ship their cars is because they need to move. Or, they have already relocated and they need their car shipped to them. So, with this in mind, what was the effect of the coronavirus on the moving industry (when related to car shipping)? Well, again, not good. Relocation was practically non-existent in the past couple of months. This, in turn, means that people didn’t ship their cars due to relocation. There was a decent amount of people moving back to their home states when quarantine measures were instated. But, international car shipping was difficult, to say the least.

Recovery

If the car shipping industry is to recover from the effects of COVID-19, it needs to do so slowly. As of writing this article, the coronavirus pandemic is slowing down and countries are lifting certain safety measures. Therefore, we should see an increase in international trade, especially from China (which is quite important for car shipping). But, if we are not careful, we might see another coronavirus pandemic in the near future. The key thing here is for countries and companies to slowly tackle the recovery process and to keep public health in mind while increasing trade. Only by doing so will the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on the car shipping industry wane. After all, the last thing we want is for another wave of the coronavirus to hit.

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Scarlett-Rose Duffy is an established expert in the moving and shipping industry. She is most known for work as an industry advisor, in addition to her work with All Season Movers NJ.

international shipping

How to Save Time and Money With Your International Shipping

Whether you are just dipping your toes into international shipping, or you are a veteran who wants to update the firm’s processes, there is always more you can do to make your shipping practices more streamlined and efficient. After all, if you are going to compete with local players, then you need to be offering the best deal possible on international shipping. How you can do that is going to be unique to your firm, but some general practices can help.

From managing customer’s expectations of speed to optimizing your packaging, investing in cargo insurance to getting help when you need it, read on to learn how to save time and money with this guide to international shipping.

1. Balance your need for speed.

Generally, the quicker you want your shipments to be delivered, the more expensive the shipping is going to be. Therefore, it is essential that you balance your need for speed with your budget and your customer’s expectations. Customers expect reliable delivery times, not necessarily the fastest possible time, and in many cases, they are happy to wait a couple of days to bring costs down.

Therefore, your best strategy is to provide them with a variety of delivery options to choose from. That way, they can decide how much they are willing to pay and how long they can wait for their goods. Keep in mind that for most companies, the goal is to limit the number of individual shipments and instead maximize the amount of cargo shipped. This generally brings about the most efficient results.

When organizing international shipping for your customers, it is essential that you make their experience as pleasant as possible. One of the best ways to do this is by providing them with accurate shipping information that keeps their expectations in check.

2. Optimize your packaging.

One of the most overlooked ways to reduce international shipping costs is to optimize your packaging. The ideal packaging keeps your products safe and secure while also reducing shipping weight and box size so as not to receive additional charges. In order to find the optimal packaging for your goods, you need to take different factors into consideration, including a product’s height, weight, and volume.

From there, look for boxes that fit your product while leaving minimal wasted space. Additionally, choose lightweight packaging materials that still protect your items. Depending on what you are shipping, you may want to consider utilizing standard sized packaging that is provided by your freight provider, as this will remove your firm’s requirement to source custom box sizes.

When planning your packaging strategy, it is vital to think dimensionally, which means knowing the length, width, and depth, which together comprise the dimensional weight of your goods. If you are shipping in bulk, keep in mind that you want your packages to be shaped so that they can be expertly arranged to fit into the smallest size carton.

3. Invest in cargo insurance.

Just as you have insurance for your home, car, and health, it is also essential that you have coverage for your cargo. Unfortunately, it only takes one international shipping incident for your firm to feel adverse effects, which is why cargo insurance is so important. By getting this insurance, you will be covered for damaged goods, cargo theft or loss in transit, and any other unforeseen events that affect your products.

While many carriers and freight forwarders offer liability insurance, this is generally limited to a specific monetary amount and has many exclusions. Therefore, you don’t want to solely rely on this liability insurance because it usually is not enough to cover the costs of severe loss or damage. On the other hand, cargo insurance will render you a more comprehensive level of protection, ensuring you can recover the full value of lost, damaged, or stolen goods.

Having cargo insurance is highly recommended because it provides you with greater peace of mind which, in the long run, makes for a more efficient and streamlined international shipping process. The last thing you want is to be worried about your firm going under because something happens to a shipment that is out of your control. Do your company a favor and invest in cargo insurance.

4. Get help when you need it.

No matter what size your company is, what products you are shipping, or whether you are moving individual parcels or sizable cargo, there is no need to do it all on your own. After all, there are experts in these fields who have the knowledge and experience to help you reduce your costs and the number of resources you have to spend on shipping logistics.

By opting to work with an online freight forwarder, such as Shipa Freight, you are not only setting yourself up for shipping success now but also in the future. From generating an online quote to scheduling your shipments and then tracking them, an online freight forwarder provides you with all the tools you need to make your international shipping processes as streamlined as possible.

For example, as an individual, it can be challenging to locate the ports and other destinations that you need, but a high-quality freight forwarder can find them for you. Additionally, you will be personally guided by a representative throughout the process so that you can be assured that you are choosing the best options for your firm. When working with Shipa Freight, you will always be treated as a partner, not a commodity.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to international shipping, if you want to come out on top, then your firm must incorporate as many cost-saving and time-effective measures as possible. By including these steps into your international shipping strategy, you will be well on your way to having the most efficient shipping process possible.

What do you think are the most effective steps for reducing costs and time related to international shipping? What strategies does your firm use?

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As Chief Product Officer for Shipa Freight, Paul Rehmet is responsible for translating the vision of Shipa Freight into an easy-to-use online freight platform for our customers. Formerly Vice President of Digital Marketing for Agility, Paul managed Agility’s website, mobile apps, content marketing and online advertising campaigns. In his 25-year career, Paul has held various technology leadership positions with early-stage startups and Fortune 500 companies including Unisys, Destiny Web Solutions, and US Airways. Paul has a Masters in Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor of Computer Science from Brown University. Paul is based in Philadelphia.  

breakbulk americas

Breakbulk Americas 2020 Will Take Place November 3-5, 2020

Breakbulk Americas has been rescheduled for November 3-5, 2020 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. The new dates are due to the move of Breakbulk Europe from its time slot in late May to the end of September. 

“We needed to move these two events as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented crisis that has affected everyone,” Nick Davison, Portfolio Director for Breakbulk and CWEIME events, Hyve Group said. “Breakbulk Americas was the last piece of the puzzle to fall into place so we could deliver a full suite of Breakbulk events this year. “

“Our aim was to minimize disruption and make it as easy as possible for our customers to participate in both Breakbulk Europe and Breakbulk Americas under safe conditions.” 

Breakbulk Americas will now be held in Halls A and B at the north end of the GRB Convention Center. Revised hotel accommodations for the new dates will be released shortly. 

“Our team is grateful for the assistance from Visit Houston in helping us to find a solution,” Jamie Reesby, Event Director for Breakbulk Americas said. “It’s an inspiring example of our community collaborating in the throes of a crisis to keep this event, a mainstay of the project cargo and breakbulk industry, on track. I’m looking forward to seeing the industry come together as we enter the fourth decade of Breakbulk Americas.” 

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About Breakbulk Americas 

Breakbulk Americas has been the established hub for the project cargo and breakbulk industry for more than 30 years. Based in Houston, it hosts more than 5,000 professionals from across the industrial supply chain based primarily in Canada, U.S. and Latin America, including the America’s largest EPCs and oil & gas companies. For more information, visit americas.breakbulk.com 

Breakbulk Americas is one of four Breakbulk global events, along with Breakbulk Asia in Shanghai, 3-4 Aug. 2020, Breakbulk Europe in Bremen, 29 Sept.-1 Oct. 2020 and Breakbulk Middle East in Dubai, 9- 10 Feb. 2021. 

About Hyve Group plc 

Hyve Group plc is a next-generation FTSE 250 global events business whose purpose is to create unmissable events, where customers from all corners of the globe share extraordinary moments and shape industry innovation. Hyve Group plc was announced as the new brand name of ITE Group plc in September 2019, following its significant transformation under the Transformation and Growth (TAG) program. Our vision is to create the world’s leading portfolio of content-driven, must-attend events delivering an outstanding experience and ROI for our customers. 

Press contact: Leslie Meredith, Marketing & Media Director –Breakbulk Events & Media E: Leslie.Meredith@breakbulk.com 

T: +1 801 201 5971

online

Doing Business Under COVID-19: Going Online to Weather the Storm

Doing Business Under COVID-19: Going Online to Weather the Storm

At the time of this writing, there are now unprecedented restrictions being put in place to prevent the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus or COVID-19, its official designation by the World Health Organization. These actions have been proposed as necessary steps in order to prevent the spread and transmission of the disease. However, its impact on the socio-political and economic fronts cannot be overlooked.

Such is the nature of this virus and the ensuing government actions that this will likely forever change how we do business not only in our individual nations but across the globe as a whole.

The technological revolution has already progressed sufficiently to allow for automation in a great many industries, but how can small and medium-sized businesses prepare before the next global pandemic?

Even in times of crisis, businesses still need to maintain communications with global partners, clients, and stakeholders. Get in touch with Tomedes’ crisis communication center

The Social Impact of COVID-19

Somewhere, some kid woke up in their dream utopian world, where they were forced to stay at home, playing video games in the basement, not having any physical contact with the outside world, or at least no more than necessary to order a pizza. Elsewhere, entire societies have been adversely impacted as restaurants, entertainment venues and other gatherings have been declared off-limits to the people.

Gatherings as seemingly innocuous as church meetings have been canceled, leaving many people suffering from the onset of cabin fever as they find themselves more and more isolated and incapable of participating in virtually any social engagement. This particularly impacts societies that value physical displays of affection between family members, friends, and acquaintances, along with the need to sustain relationships and friendships in a traditional hands-on manner.

The Economic Impact of COVID-19

Source: The Economist

Perhaps the most damaging disruption is that the COVID-19 is bringing the world economy to its knees, bankrupting many businesses for all sizes, and laying off employees by the droves, depriving them the ability to provide for themselves and for their families. With families still experiencing the shocks and crunches of the 2008 Financial Crisis and the Great Recession, along with the economic setbacks from the US-China trade war, the coronavirus pandemic couldn’t come at a worst time–not that it should have come at all. The pandemic is now having a rippling effect that expands throughout the global economic system as evidenced from the current global economic crisis.

Manufacturing of non-essential goods is now scaling back to even being suspended. Logistics and material supply chains are lagging behind which is then causing a domino effect, ultimately resulting in utter economic turmoil leaving entire sections of the economy beaten, battered and bruised with little hope for any immediate resolution.

Perhaps this outbreak will forever change the way that people work, shop and even how they live their lives. There are some industries that are currently thriving even during these economically depressed times. There are other businesses that are dying but some, with a little bit of effort and foresight, could be in a much better position during the next global outbreak.

Which Industries are Thriving During the Global COVID-19 Pandemic? And Why?

Source: World Health Organization

Despite the constant economic turmoil that is ongoing as a result of the current global pandemic, there are numerous industries that are thriving or at the very least, continuing operations. Many businesses that have already established themselves online in one form or another, are at the very least, not suffering as badly at present. Although, situations in some industries are mixed as some are forced to scale down their operations. Some are obligated to keep going considering the vital nature of their operations with profit being the least of their concerns as of the moment.

Tech Industry

As people continue their quarantine and lockdown lifestyle, they’ll naturally go online and browse all content they’ll come across to pass the time. Social media platforms are now experiencing a surge in content with people now having more time on their hands than usual. Streaming companies such as Netflix are also having a field day as ‘Netflix and chill’ routines are now the norm for more people for the next few weeks at least.

As for consumer electronic manufacturers, it’s fair to say that people’s consumer habits have changed from conspicuous spending to practical spending. There’s significantly less demand now for luxury products and consumer electronic products with the exception of consumer medical devices. It’s much more practical now to purchase a thermometer and digital blood pressure monitor than the latest iPhone or pre-ordering the upcoming PS5.

Ecommerce

The global ecommerce industry is facing mixed experiences as we speak. One can assume that as people stay indoors, ecommerce businesses are bound to have a field day. In reality, it entirely depends on your product inventory whether you sell essential goods, medical devices, or consumer electronics and so on. The impact on ecommerce businesses also depend on how much they rely on the global supply chain.

Since the pandemic has initially brought China’s manufacturers to a halt, everyone from ecommerce businesses to global retailers are taking a big hit. Some ecommerce businesses are forced to suspend their operations and even close up shop as they can’t restock their inventory. However, other ecommerce businesses are unable to cope with so much demand as people continue to stock up on essential goods.

Logistics

The global logistics industry is now the lifeblood holding the global economy together that’s currently hanging on by a thread. From supermarkets, relief operations, healthcare centers, to families, it’s imperative that logistics companies around the world keep running round the clock to deliver not only essential goods but also vital medical supplies of all kinds from testing kits, face masks (surgical, N95, etc.), to face shields, safety goggles, protective suits, and disinfectants.

However, there are some logistics companies that are on the losing end as many have been forced to scale down to even suspend their operations temporarily as the logistics workforce are highly susceptible to viral transmission.

Energy and Utilities

With families now staying, working, and continuing their schooling at home, energy and utility companies will naturally see a tremendous spike in operations. But whether this is profitable for their industry isn’t as black-and-white as one might think. Many energy and utility companies around the world are now extending bill payments to a month to cushion the financial toll families and businesses are currently experiencing. For energy and utility companies, perhaps profit isn’t their main concern now as they’re now working hard to keep their services uninterrupted and not putting lives at risk.

Medical Industry

The global medical industry is now in overdrive with some even classifying their operations as being elevated to ‘wartime’ level. However, we wouldn’t classify it as thriving per se in terms of opportunities and increased revenue. All health professionals and relevant frontliners are now overstretched around the world and facing dwindling medical supplies as cases rise.

It’s fair to say that the pandemic is putting even the most advanced healthcare systems under enormous pressure. The medical industry from healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, and disinfectant manufacturers are now working round the clock to keep up with the pace of infections to keep it from spiraling out of the control.

Another part of the medical industry that’s seeing a spike in demand are unconventional medical services such as telemedicine and online mental health services. Doctors are highly vulnerable to viral transmission and must be protected at all costs. For patients with non-serious symptoms, telemedicine is the safest way to get a check-up from your doctor.

As for online mental health services, the abrupt social isolation along with some families even being mandated to isolate themselves from their own loved ones to prevent transmission within the household is having a damaging toll on people’s mental health.

The Language Industry

Business is booming for many aspects of the language industry, especially online translations. This is in large part due to the requirements of scientists, academics and medical professionals working around the world to stem the tide of the global COVID-19 pandemic. All of the research, the latest breakthroughs, and the research and analysis of these medical professionals must be quickly and accurately translated and then distributed to similar communities around the globe. Medical translation is also needed in the medical device industry as medical devices such as testing kits need to be accurately translated for it to be used properly by all countries affected by the pandemic.

Live interpreters are less in demand, though there are still exceptions, most notably in the medical, political, and public relations arena where communications must continue. Even here however, more and more of the work is being conducted via video conferencing and using other online means to prevent the need for gathering together unnecessarily. Translation agencies and even freelance translators and interpreters working online are experiencing an increased demand for their services when other industries falter.

The Freelance Industry

There were many claims made from both sides of the debate during the passage of AB5 in California, more commonly known as the “Gig Economy Bill”. Despite all of these claims however, freelancers online have experienced a record surge in terms of both the number of people looking for freelance work and the amount of work being moved to the “online economy”.

But not all freelancers can claim all is well unfortunately as the effects of the pandemic does naturally vary between industries. While many freelancers working online are enjoying a great boom in business, other freelancers providing on-site services such as consultants and even freelancers working for film and TV history, are having a rough time as we speak.

Setting Up Your Business Continuity Plan Amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic

Moving a business online is not only beneficial, but given the current economic and social crises, it may soon become inevitable, especially as the technological revolution automates industry and replaces more traditional jobs. There are additional benefits to the company as well.

The individuals working from home do not require expensive computers, desks or other equipment that the business owner would otherwise be forced to acquire. The business owner will not have to pay for all of the electrical consumption or other utilities that would otherwise be an added expense.

Even businesses that cannot be fully established online will benefit from an online presence. Localized service providers who only provide a limited service in an equally restrictive geographic location are one such example. Still, there are many aspects of the business that can be conducted online without any or at the very least, minimal disruption to the services being provided.

Moving Operations and Transactions Online

Accounts Payable and Receivable, IT services if there are any, and a host of other jobs can easily be completed through the use of professional agencies online, or by hiring employees who will be telecommuting, or working from their own homes. Some of the work may be outsourced to professional agencies and freelance workers online. But virtually all of it can be done without the need to congregate together in a closed, more restrictive environment.

Shift to Telecommuting

Companies that retain all or even a portion of their staff as telecommuters will be in a better position to weather the financial storm created by the current crises. This may perhaps be best demonstrated oddly enough, by looking at the internet and how it works. IT professionals are among the most common people in the industry working as telecommuters online. As long as there is internet, then there is work for people.

Likewise, programmers are able to work from home, as are customer service representatives and other key positions working in IT. Any company that can establish as much of its workforce as possible as telecommuters will enjoy numerous benefits that will be explained in the latter portion of this article.

Maintain a Skeletal Workforce for Operations if Possible.

As of writing, many businesses have had to make changes overnight from moving their operations online to even laying off a part of their workforce just to keep their business afloat. With the employees you have left, it’s important to also keep your business running by maintaining a skeletal workforce to focus on vital operations for the time being.

Using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Services

Using VoIP services such as Skype and Facetime is a perfect way to continue face-to-face interactions not only with your employees but also clients. These are mostly free but do come with premium subscriptions if you want more access to its features as video group calls.

Expanding Your Ecommerce Capabilities

Some local businesses may already have an online presence, but may also need to consider expanding their services that are offered online. Any company that has a physical product that is going to be shipped out, or that offers online products, may want to consider the addition of an ecommerce or merchant page on their website.

This gives the business owner access to a much larger audience while at the same time, more fully automating much of the checkout process and reducing the number of employees required to perform the job functions.

Upgrade Your Content Marketing Strategies

Unlike printed ads or brochures, a website can also contain videos, which are a primary tool in every internet marketing campaign. This is especially true if the videos are used to introduce products to the customers, which is a very effective technique for increasing sales online.

Videos also have been shown to do better when they include closed captioning or video translations. Many people who are searching for products and services online will prefer the videos and watch them rather than read through large volumes of text.

The inclusion of video closed captioning through video translation services will allow for the customers to enjoy the full video experience without having to worry about missing anything, even when they have the sound turned off. Given the extent of the potential audience though, video translation and video marketing are excellent and necessary tools for an online marketing campaign as more people stay at home.

Relying on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Platforms

You might have already been using CRM platforms but in these times, they couldn’t be more necessary now as your business continues operations online. CRM platforms make the process of monitoring clients and keeping track of relevant client data much easier. CRM platforms now run under cloud systems which means your employees can continue their services from the safety of their home.

Shift to Employee Management Strategies using Employee Tracking Tools

It’s fair to say that going online is a whole new realm, figuratively and literally. Business owners and managers need to be inundated with the latest online management strategies to keep track of their employees performance. One of the most vital essential tools in online employee management are employee tracking tools.

Employees can clock in and clock out per shift as they did before in which the tool will keep track of the total number of hours they’ve worked. Another useful feature in employee tracking tools is it takes screenshots of your employees’ screens. This helps managers know whether or not their employees are actually working on the tasks at hand rather than streaming Netflix.

Use Localization to Try to Get Ahead of the Curve

Let’s talk more about localization here and how you can get provided an elevated online customer experience for your foreign audiences and markets, especially during these trying times. Among the most popular online trends for business in 2020 is globalization through localization. Localization is all about speaking to the target demographic in their own language not just in a linguistic sense but also culturally and socially.

You’ll be using their preferences and norms as points of reference to help you refine your product and marketing strategies. This involves establishing a full business presence online in numerous different markets, using language and references that the people will understand from a more localized and personal perspective.

Localization indeed is more than just language, but translation itself under localization takes on a new form. Localizing translations involves taking note of regional linguistic nuances. Language differs greatly, even when everyone involved in the conversation speaks the same language. Think about the local vernacular, local phrases and local accents. Add in local frames of mind and points of reference, and even in different areas that speak the same language, different localization techniques will be required.

In many areas of the world, it will be necessary to use two or more local languages. The province of Quebec generally requires both French and English if it is to be effective. Locations around the Southern border of the USA may require both English and Spanish. Many locations throughout Europe commonly use numerous languages. Switzerland recognizes German, French and Italian as official languages, but also has a strong presence of Romansh. In such a case, four or more languages may be required to be translated for the website. In Switzerland, staying there for a moment in time, the areas for each language are generally geographically specific.

Each one of these geographic areas will have unique features and individual points of pride for the local populations. The ability to integrate these into a larger online campaign using localization strategies means that each one of these languages can be used to more specifically target the desired audience.

The best means to accomplish such a task is to ensure that when moving online, a translation agency that specializes in localization strategies is used in order to ensure both the accuracy and the individual aspects of a more complete, professional and personalized translation service. In some cases, these techniques will be crucial even for a more localized and restricted online business presence.

In other cases, they may be part of a broader globalization campaign, though using the same techniques of localization. However, there are places in the world that lack regular internet access. Some research may need to be done on who will be your ideal target audience.

Going Online Amidst Medical or even Economic Crises: Final Word

For those businesses that can go completely online, there will be no more need to worry about where people can or cannot gather, or what people can or cannot do in person. Many of these companies have the added benefit of creating  online products and services that can be delivered over the internet. Furthermore, the expansion of the online economy will keep the world economy going rather than flatlining.

The impact on ISPs and the relevant infrastructure have already pointed out the need for some expansion of the underlying infrastructure of the internet. It will create the need for more and better infrastructure to be built, resulting in even more work being made available online.

Overall, building a business online may seem like a rather small affair at first glance. However, just as is the case with the current social and economic crises the world is facing, the gains of an online business can create the very same rippling and domino effects in the opposite direction. The creation of more industry results in the creation of more jobs even in times of economic turmoil, and does more than just its “fair share” to aid in the global economic recovery.

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This article originally appeared on Tomedes.com. Republished with permission.

chlorine

Global Chlorine Trade Totaled $160M

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Chlorine – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends And Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

Global Chlorine Exports 2014-2018

In 2018, the global exports of chlorine totaled 547K tonnes, going down by -9.6% against the previous year. Overall, chlorine exports continue to indicate a slight setback. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2016 with an increase of 5.7% against the previous year. The global exports peaked at 605K tonnes in 2017, and then declined slightly in the following year.

In value terms, chlorine exports stood at $160M (IndexBox estimates) in 2018.

Exports by Country

In 2018, Canada (157K tonnes), distantly followed by France (82K tonnes), the U.S. (51K tonnes) and Romania (32K tonnes) were the largest exporters of chlorine, together making up 59% of total exports. Mexico (24K tonnes), Germany (23K tonnes), Thailand (19K tonnes), Poland (19K tonnes), Japan (14K tonnes), South Korea (12K tonnes), Austria (11K tonnes) and Colombia (11K tonnes) followed a long way behind the leaders.

From 2014 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of exports, amongst the main exporting countries, was attained by Japan, while exports for the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, the largest chlorine supplying countries worldwide were Canada ($31M), the U.S. ($20M) and France ($14M), together accounting for 41% of global exports.

The U.S. recorded the highest rates of growth with regard to the value of exports, in terms of the main exporting countries over the period under review, while exports for the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Export Prices by Country

In 2018, the average chlorine export price amounted to $292 per tonne, growing by 12% against the previous year. Over the last four-year period, it increased at an average annual rate of +1.7%. Prices varied noticeably by the country of origin; the country with the highest price was Japan ($898 per tonne), while Romania ($102 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2014 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Germany, while the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Imports by Country

The U.S. represented the major importer of chlorine imported in the world, with the volume of imports reaching 189K tonnes, which was approx. 33% of total imports in 2018. Germany (63K tonnes) ranks second in terms of the total imports with a 11% share, followed by Mexico (7.5%), Hungary (5.6%) and Switzerland (4.6%). The following importers – Malaysia (16K tonnes), Taiwan, Chinese (13K tonnes), Belgium (11K tonnes), China (11K tonnes), the Philippines (10K tonnes), Italy (10K tonnes) and Portugal (9.3K tonnes) – together made up 14% of total imports.

From 2014 to 2018, average annual rates of growth with regard to chlorine imports into the U.S. stood at -3.3%. At the same time, Mexico (+83.9%), Malaysia (+59.4%), China (+35.3%), Taiwan, Chinese (+24.7%), Germany (+16.6%), Portugal (+16.2%) and the Philippines (+2.5%) displayed positive paces of growth. Moreover, Mexico emerged as the fastest-growing importer imported in the world, with a CAGR of +83.9% from 2014-2018. By contrast, Hungary (-7.1%), Belgium (-8.5%), Switzerland (-9.4%) and Italy (-12.2%) illustrated a downward trend over the same period. While the share of Mexico (+6.9 p.p.), Germany (+5.1 p.p.) and Malaysia (+2.4 p.p.) increased significantly in terms of the global imports from 2014-2018, the share of Hungary (-1.9 p.p.), Switzerland (-2.2 p.p.) and the U.S. (-4.9 p.p.) displayed negative dynamics. The shares of the other countries remained relatively stable throughout the analyzed period.

In value terms, the U.S. ($37M) constitutes the largest market for imported chlorine worldwide, comprising 21% of global imports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Germany ($13M), with a 7.4% share of global imports. It was followed by Mexico, with a 7.1% share.

From 2014 to 2018, the average annual rate of growth in terms of value in the U.S. stood at +1.3%. The remaining importing countries recorded the following average annual rates of imports growth: Germany (+13.5% per year) and Mexico (+57.2% per year).

Import Prices by Country

The average chlorine import price stood at $307 per tonne in 2018, growing by 4.3% against the previous year.

There were significant differences in the average prices amongst the major importing countries. In 2018, the country with the highest price was China ($981 per tonne), while Hungary ($83 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2014 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by the Philippines, while the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform

How Warehousing has Evolved Over the Years

In the last ten to twenty years, warehouses have evolved massively. The industry has come a long way just in the last decade and has evolved to adapt to a faster pace. Driven by the evolution of various factors that influence the global market, warehousing continues to rise and change to remain one of the vital components in many industries.

The rule in business nowadays is simple: either you adapt or you break. The warehousing sector can confidently say that it has successfully adapted to the trends set by consumers and competition. From retail to manufacturing, every business that involves logistics has managed to or has to manage by making planned changes through the use of recent developments, which has so far produced positive results.

As warehousing experts and pros continue to tread the path driven by trends and change, they have to educate themselves. An important part of the adaptation process and preparing to move forward is looking back at what put you in your current position – a review of sorts.

To help you see the direction warehouse management is headed, this article will highlight how warehousing has evolved over the years.

More Strategic and Complex

Warehousing management has become more strategic and complex over the years. The simple warehouse which was once a small portion of the supply chain is not what it used to be. The primary concept of which warehouses were derived is still there: storage; however, the warehouse is now being called on to handle more complexity than it ever had.

There are many different types of warehouses that exist now that could play an important role in the near future. Warehouses such as high ceiling facilities and pop-up warehouses were developed throughout time to meet different requirements. Still focusing on adapting, it’s critical that current warehouses are agile and can adapt to changing conditions.

Accessibility

Historically, warehouses were only available to large businesses with a large-scale budget. Now, warehouses are more accessible even to small and medium businesses. This is driven by everyone wanting to manage their own operations and taking matters into their own hands.

The demand for industrial real estate has risen and continues to do so since the boom of ecommerce and the customer’s expectations of faster and more affordable shipping. For instance, there is accessible industrial real estate in many locations such as the warehouse in Kansas City that a business can either lease or purchase for different purposes. This all caters to businesses of all sizes.

Shift to Ecommerce Drives Automation

As aforementioned, the ecommerce industry is one of the main driving forces of the warehousing evolution. Ecommerce pros are facing the challenge of meeting customer expectations of cheaper and faster delivery and shipping. One of the strategies to address this demand is to automate.

Automated systems effectively reduce overstock and shortages and will boost profits in the long run. Automation cannot do it alone though, as it has to be partnered with quality warehouse storage systems to help an operation run smoothly.

Conclusion

Warehousing evolved in the past years by becoming more strategic and complex, accessible, and pushing for automation. It will continue to evolve in the next decade or so, as it depends on variables that can disrupt the majority of workplaces in many industries. Warehousing will continue to be pushed to adapt by the ever-changing fast-paced world.

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Angelo Castelda works as a contributor for a news magazine in Asia. On his free days, he likes to read books about the logistics industry and warehouse management. He also gets frequently invited to schools and universities to hold talks about the supply chain system and warehouse operations.

order

WFH? Here’s How to Manage your Ecommerce Order Deliveries Successfully.

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has turned the whole world upside down. No one is sure about anything anymore. And that scares us. Luckily, the culture of remote working has been catching on. There are a gazillion tools that help you get rid of the snags of WFH. Regardless, managing your team as an ecommerce business owner remotely is no joke. Especially during a time when you cannot afford to lose business or customers.

Here’s a cheat sheet to stay on top of your orders in the age of social distancing.

1. Real-time shipment monitoring: The good news is that there is a greater push for shopping online. More and more customers are seeking comfort in the ease of ordering products online. In the US, there has been a surge in the ecommerce order volume for health and beauty products. The real challenge is staying on top of order fulfillment. You need a unified portal that tracks and monitors your packages in real-time. While your logistics team may be efficient, it is prudent to have visibility into shipment details. A real-time shipment tracking system that feeds you with the total shipments, total deliveries, potential delivery exceptions for every single day at all times. A real-time tracker is a great way to oversee your team’s order fulfillment efficiency with zero manual intervention.

2. Real-time Delivery updates: Your customers are anxious about their orders. More than ever before. If you see a sharp rise in the “ Where is my order” calls to customer support, rest assured, it is the new normal. Instead of overburdening your lean support team, send delivery updates to your customer proactively. Inform your customers of the order location. Auto-set triggers to initiate notification for any change in the shipment transit activity. Your customer stays in the know of the order shipment status at all times.

3. Custom exception notifications: Delivery exceptions are a downer. Lost, delays, damages can ruin your customer’s delivery experience. When left unattended, a bad delivery experience could quickly spiral out of control. To salvage this situation, act immediately. Whenever your real-time tracker notifies you of a potential disaster, come clean and inform your customer.

“Hey Mike. We regret to inform you that your order [ tracking# 887676756454] is experiencing a delay. But we assure you that we are working with our shipping partner to get the order to you at the earliest. Thanks”

Surprisingly, buyers are quite understanding and more cooperative once they are informed of any issue beforehand. In fact, your customers appreciate your transparency.

4. Carrier performance monitoring: When your business is fulfilling orders using more than one shipping carrier, how do you evaluate them. Even global carriers such as FedEx, UPS or DHL have their share of strengths and weaknesses. How do you play to the carrier’s strength so as to benefit the most? Easy. Measure their on-time delivery performances. Categorize their OTD across different zones, different days of the week and different package dimensions. Or simply plug into an Audit tool that can generate all this for you.

5. Cost-saving recommendations: Companies across the world are laying off employees. There is a huge drive for cost-cutting across organizations. Brick and Mortar stores are brainstorming ways to omnichannelise their user experience. The least you can do as an ecommerce business owner is to audit your shipping invoices. If you have not automated your auditing process yet, time to reconsider. An in-depth invoice audit not only results in instant savings on your shipping costs by disputing service and billing errors, but they also unearth strategies to optimize your shipping spend. The need of the hour is to shave away all the payment excesses and billing overcharges.

AuditShipment is an automated invoice audit service that identifies more than 50 carrier errors across vendors, disputes billing errors, validate tariff rate against SLA and offers benchmark discount reports. They also help get you refunds on late shipments from vendors like UPS, FedEx, etc. In addition to offering post-order fulfillment audits, our advanced technology also offers real-time shipment tracking and custom delivery notifications. With AuditShipment, stay on top of your orders at all times.

container availability

Container Availability: From Shortage to Congestion?

Container ports all over the world, with the exception of China, are faced with imminent congestion when a multitude of boxes sent for shipment from factories in Asia arrive at their import destinations. As the infection rate of the COVID-19 in China declined and production resumed, a large number of containers that had piled up in China have finally sailed to Europe and North America. 

With Container Availability Index (CAx) values of 0.17 (20DCs) and 0.33 (40DCs), it seems like the Port of Shanghai is back at full productivity. In the past couple weeks, containers had piled up – CAx values of greater than 0.6 indicate a surplus of equipment – due to multitudinous blank sailings, something that would normally not happen often. Being able to forecast the development of the next 3 weeks, the CAx values for Shanghai will decrease from 0.41 for 20DCS in week 14, indicating that equipment will become more scarce again.

However, the effects of COVID-19 have dramatically affected consumer demand in the US and Europe. Buyers have begun to cancel orders as most of these countries are now in a severe lockdown situation and warehouse capacity is being maxed out. The incoming containers are most likely causing congestion, and incurring storage and demurrage charges at, for instance, the Port of Los Angeles or the Port of Hamburg.

With CAx values of 0.38 (20DCs) and 0.57 (40HCs) for Hamburg and values of 0.82 (40DCs) and 0.3 (40HCs) for Los Angeles, the Container Availability Index also forecasts increasing equipment volumes in these ports. The forecast takes millions of containers tracked through Container xChange into account, helping shipping companies make container sale, lease or repositioning decisions. 

The next couple of weeks will tell us if the COVID-19 situation eases in the western world. To remain competitive, especially European freight forwarders and shippers are expected to increase their usage of SOC containers in order to avoid demurrage charges. 

eaglerail

THE EAGLERAIL HAS LANDED: CEO MIKE WYCHOCKI PUSHES A “NO BRAINER” WHEN IT COMES TO MOVING SHIPPING CONTAINERS AT CONGESTED PORTS

It’s amazing where new logistics solutions come from. They are usually born by veteran shippers with visions on how to improve an existing operation. Or it can be a customer or customers seeking help in conquering a specific challenge that eventually resonates throughout the industry.

Then there is the inception of Chicago-based EagleRail Container Logistics’ signature solution. It can be traced to a pitch meeting for a new monorail in Brazil that was attended by a port authority official who was there more as a cheerleader than a participant.

Watching a Chicago marketing man’s PowerPoint presentation about his company’s passenger monorail system to local leaders in São Paulo eight years ago, the port representative, Jose Newton Gama, marveled at how the magnetic levitation (Maglev) trains holding people would be suspended under overhead tracks.

Then the Brazilian known by friends as Newton raised his hand.

“Excuse me?” he asked the Americano. “Could your system be adapted to hold shipping containers?”

That had never occurred to project designers, whose monorail cars for passengers are much lighter than would be required for cargo containers hauled by ships, trucks and freight trains. But the marketing man shared Gama’s question with his colleagues in the Windy City, and that planted the seed that eventually bore EagleRail Container Logistics.

Chief Executive Officer Mike Wychocki was an early investor who eventually bought out that marketing man, but the first EagleRail system is named “Newton” after the Brazilian who now sits on the company’s board of advisors. “He’s a great guy,” says Wychocki during a recent phone interview. “Newton is our biggest cheerleader.”

Wychocki’s no slouch with the pom-poms himself, having pitched EagleRail at 40 ports in 20 countries over the past five years. His company, which has offices around the world, is developing its first prototype in China, and studies are underway at six ports as EagleRail sets about raising $20 million in capital. (The window for small investments had just closed when Wychocki was interviewed. His company has since shifted its focus to large investors.)

The way ports have operated for decades left no need for a system like EagleRail’s. Big ships dock, cranes remove containers stacked on their decks and each box is then moved onto the back of a flatbed truck that either hauls it to a distribution center or an intermodal yard. Until recent years, no one really thought of disrupting the process because, as Wychocki puts it, “you could always find cheaper truck drivers.”

However, truck driver shortages, port-area air pollution and congestion caused by the time it takes to load and unload ever-larger ships have prompted serious soul searching when it comes to short hauls. Expanding the size of ports is often not an option due to the cities that have grown to surround them. This has led to the creation of large container parks for trucks and/or freight trains within a few miles of ports, but getting boxes to those remains problematic—at a time when megaships are only making matters more difficult.

“There is an old saying that ports are where old trucks go to die,” says Wychocki, who ticks off as problems associated with that mode of moving containers pollution, maintenance and fuel costs, as well as the issues of public safety because some drivers essentially live inside of their vehicles, which can attract prostitution and leave behind litter and human waste. Adding even more of these dirty trucks would necessitate more road building, which only adds to environmental concerns.

With ground space at ports a constantly shrinking commodity, tunneling underground may be viewed as an option. But Wychocki points out that many ports have emerged on unstable ground like backfill, and water, power and sewer lines are usually below what’s under the streets beyond port gates. The idea of a hyperloop has been bandied about, but it would require emptying shipping containers at the port, loading the contents into smaller boxes, sending those through to another yard, and then repacking the shipping containers on the other side. “That defeats the whole point” of relieving port congestion, the EagleRail CEO says.

Ah, but every port has unused air space, which is what Wychocki’s company seeks to exploit. “If an Amazon warehouse can lift and shuttle packages robotically,” he says, “why not do the same with a 60,000-pound package? Go to a warehouse. See how Amazon works with packages. They use overhead light rails. It’s an obvious idea, so obvious. It’s a no brainer when you think about it.”

Yes, Amazon also uses drones, but can you imagine the size it would have to be to carry a 60,000-pound shipping container? Wychocki sees a suspended container track as an extension of the cranes on every loading dock worldwide, which is why EagleRail systems are also all-electric and composed of the same crane hardware to avoid snags when it comes to replacing parts.

However, Wychocki is quick to note EagleRail is not a total solution when it comes to port congestion. He calculates that among the short-haul trucks leaving a port, 50 percent are going to 500 different locations, many of which are different states away, while the other half is bound for just a couple nearby destinations. EagleRail is geared toward the latter, and the problem with getting containers to them “is not technological; it’s who controls the five kilometers between the port and the intermodal facility,” he says.

Lifting equipment at ports “is exactly the same in all 200 countries,” he adds. “The part that is not the same is the back end. What is the port’s configuration? Where do the roads come in? What we do is form a consortium and build it with each local player, such as the port authority, the road authority, the national rail company, the power company. Getting everyone involved helps get procurement and environmental rights of way.”

He concedes that getting everyone on board “varies by location,” but when it comes to environmental concerns “everyone’s kind of wanting to do this because it means fewer trucks, and the power companies would prefer the use of electricity (over burning diesel). It sounds harder than it is to get everyone rowing in the same direction.”

Wychocki points to another bonus with EagleRail: It allows for total control of one’s intermodal yard because containers come and go on the same circular route—all day long. “We take this on as a disruptive business model,” he says, noting that short-haul trucks generally involve the use of data-chain-breaking clipboards and mobile phones. EagleRail systems track containers on them in real-time, rolling in all customs paperwork and billing invoices automatically.

“It’s amazing, I just came from the Port of Rotterdam, where I was a keynote,” Wychocki says. “Even the biggest ports in the world like Antwerp were saying, ‘This is great. Why isn’t anyone else doing it?’”

Actually, EagleRail accidentally created direct competition. Wychocki explains that during the initial design phase, his company worked with a foreign monorail concern whose cars used what were essentially aircraft tires rolling inside a closed channel. Concerns about maintaining a system that would invariably involve frequently changing tires—and thus slowing down operations—caused EagleRail to reject that design in favor of another third-party’s calling for steel-on-steel wheels. The designer with tires is pressing on with its own system and without EagleRail.

“I’m glad we didn’t go that route,” says Wychocki, who nonetheless expects more serious competition once EagleRail systems are up and running. Fortunately for the company, there are plenty of ports bursting at the seams that cannot wait that long. Wychocki says a question he invariably gets after pitching EagleRail is: “Where were you 10 years ago? Usually, there is an urgency.”

That’s why “our goal was to get out of the gate fast, build market share and our brand and create a quasi-franchise network,” says Wychocki, whose business model has EagleRail owning 25 percent of a system while the port and other local entities own the rest.

He estimates that within 10 years, 12 EagleRail systems will be operating. If that sounds like a pipe dream, consider that his company’s newsletter boasts 3,000 subscribers before a system is even up and running. Wychocki does not credit “brilliant marketing” for that keen interest. “It’s because every port’s problems are getting worse. Everyone is squealing about what to do with these giant ships that cannot be unloaded fast enough. They are desperate.”