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Riding the Wave of Demand: All it took was a Global Pandemic to Sort Out the E-Commerce Winners from the Losers


Riding the Wave of Demand: All it took was a Global Pandemic to Sort Out the E-Commerce Winners from the Losers

Undeniably, businesses all around the world today find themselves grappling with the profound changes we are experiencing as the world comes to terms with the impact of this pandemic.

All across the world, businesses—from the local deli to major conglomerates—are transforming their offline and online operations as they seek to protect their customer relations. With consumers confined to their homes, we are experiencing an enormous e-commerce surge, which is set to have an unforeseen impact on consumer behavior.

It is a phenomena experienced by existing e-commerce platforms like and newcomers focused on in-store sales alike: Overnight, we’ve all been forced to pivot, regardless of our platform, size or clout. As lockdowns continue in many parts of the world, and people continue to practice caution in regions where they have been lifted, online sales have increased exponentially, especially in the food and grocery space.

While many e-commerce retailers adapted their existing digital strategies to maintain presence and reach, others lacked the infrastructure, confidence, and social media savvy to stay as close as possible to their customers during the pandemic.

Making the Connection

Has COVID-19 merely accelerated rapidly changing consumer trends toward e-commerce? Perhaps, although such is the force of human nature, there will always be room for offline exchanges. Critically, as we seek to enter recovery, how do we keep customers engaged long after the fear from the pandemic subsides?

Our own experience is instructive of the challenges many businesses are facing. At, the first thing we did after the outbreak was declared, was to remove all fees for our customers globally for an initial period—a significant investment, both financially and operationally. It meant that we could help people stay connected to their loved ones during those early, fearful days.

Making those connections took a monumental effort, as we needed to action this decision across every one of our operators, countries, teams, languages, and technologies. It also served another vital purpose. The lockdowns compelled to transition to working fully remotely–we closed all our offices at the same time–so we learned how to communicate and work together well remotely, making quick decisions together despite being physically apart.

The Art of Pivoting Under Pressure

The lockdowns implemented by various governments led to an instantaneous spike in demand for our products as specific countries went into lockdown we saw a direct correlation in terms of demand for mobile top-up–first Italy, then Spain, then France, then the UK, and across the Middle East. We had to make big investment decisions on going into markets that might not have been traditional markets for us–pivoting under pressure is quite an art.

The move into online retail can seem daunting, especially if it is forced by unforeseen factors such as this major public health emergency rather than as part of a carefully planned long-term strategy. Trust is key to earn and retain consumer loyalty, so too is visibility. Many retailers fear they lack the technical knowhow. But we know that the heart of any retail experience is knowing your customer and knowing what they want.

It pays to invest the time and energy now into making the transition to digital a long-term success. In my view there are three key principles to live by when you are considering adapting your business to an online model:

 1. Be Easy to Find

Be everywhere where your customer is–make it really easy for them to find you.

2. Be Easy to Buy

Speed and ease are key to building trust and winning business. Guide your customers on every part of the journey. From browsing to payments, be where they need you.

3. Be the Reason They Stay

Make it the most wonderful experience for them once they’re here. Listen to their needs, continue to evolve to serve those needs, reward their loyalty and commitment to you.

The principles can seem overwhelming, especially if you are an SME or a start-up or a business whose main model is offline. So it’s best to start small and scale-up.

When you’re getting your business set up online, the opportunity to sell to a global audience is an enthralling one. But slow down. A McKinsey A report on rapidly setting up an e-commerce function suggests success is possible in a relatively short timescale, pragmatism is wise in the beginning. This might mean limiting delivery to a certain region or offering a more limited range of products at the outset. This gives companies the chance to identify and address pain points and bottlenecks before scaling up to full capacity.

It’s vital, as you move online, to make the most of what analytics can tell you about your customer. Online shoppers give retailers a wealth of information about themselves when they make a purchase. Google or Facebook demographic information will tell you where they live, their ages, and gender, while the website and e-commerce tool itself will tell you how often a customer shops on your website, what category of products is most important to them, and how much they spend. In the marketing world, this is known as a customer persona.

This information is crucial, as it can be used to retarget them with similar products in the future. It will also allow merchandising managers to understand which products appeal most to your target demographic, and which are of little interest and should be discontinued. You can also boost sales by combining social media platforms with email marketing. It pays off handsomely: according to Oberlo, every $1 invested in email marketing results in $42 of sales.

Go Big, or Go Home

In many respects, we have no choice but to adapt, if recent actions by major players such as Amazon and Facebook to increase their market share are anything to go by. On May 19, Facebook announced that it will launch a full shopfront on both its Facebook and Instagram platforms.

With more than 3 billion monthly active users between them, the opportunity for consumers to make direct sales within those apps will be a gamechanger for the social network. It also represents an unmissable opportunity for new streams of revenue for retailers, whether they’re a mom-and-pop store or a major enterprise when their consumers can shop in real-time.

If you take your time and get it right, the rewards of online are unending and will help you achieve the best of both worlds. Despite, or perhaps because of this unprecedented business interruption, there has never been a better time to ride the wave of demand for online.


Denise Dunne is chief growth officer at, the No. 1 international mobile top-up platform. Having joined the Dublin, Ireland-based company in November 2019, she is now responsible for’s consumer business. She arrived at the 14-year-old concern with 15 years of experience from a number of international companies, including MindSauce, Neom and Paddy Power. Developing and executing robust customer growth strategies and delivering transformational revenue growth is what Denise has spent her career doing.

holiday season

How to Prepare Your Online Store for the Holiday Season During COVID-19

We’re already getting super hyped for the holiday season. From delicate snowfalls to generous gift-giving to spending time with family and loved ones, it really is the most wonderful time of the year.

But if you work in retail, the holiday season can mean something VERY different. Many boutique owners find themselves busier than ever during the holidays. Most years, the holiday season means long lines at malls, loads of crowds, and tons of in-person sales. But this year’s going to be totally different.

Online stores have steadily grown in popularity over the years – but COVID-19 made the shift to e-commerce accelerate at its fastest ever rate. This holiday season will be totally dominated & led by e-commerce stores. Many believe the 2020 holiday season will be the single biggest e-commerce event in HISTORY.

If you own an online boutique, that’s great news for you! It means you’ll have the chance to capture all kinds of new and existing customers looking to buy gifts for their loved ones (and take advantage of the great deals for themselves, too). But it also means you’ve got to brace yourself. Things are about to get WAY busier.

Whether you’ve already made it through many a holiday season as a boutique owner before or this will be your first one, read on to learn how to prepare your online store for the holiday season during COVID-19.

Make it easy for your customers to buy online

Make sure you’re totally prepared to accept online orders – and that your website makes the online buying experience as soon as possible. Go through your online store as though you were a customer and make sure the entire buying process is crystal clear. Take a moment to work out any kinks you find so you can provide a seamless buyer journey. If this is your first time selling online, make sure payment solutions are totally ready by running a few test purchases.

Once you’ve done that, update your website for the holiday season. Update your inventory so in-stock items are clearly marked. Promote seasonal offers and holiday deals throughout your website. Clearly display your boutique’s shipping and return policies, especially if you’ve modified them for the holidays. The easier it is for your customers to make a purchase (and take advantage of awesome holiday deals), the more likely they’ll be to do so!

Plan & stock your inventory in advance

And by “in advance,” we mean ASAP! It’s always a good idea to start stocking up on holiday inventory early, but this year it’s more important than ever. Many shipments have been delayed due to the pandemic, so the sooner you can order your inventory, the better.

Make sure you choose to work with a reliable supplier. While the increase in high demand affects retailers like you, it also affects manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers in a big way. Order early and choose a supplier with great customer service. Supplied is a great option for online boutique owners looking for a wide variety of wholesale boutique items, flexible payment terms, and free shipping (yes, even during the holidays!)

Schedule out promotions

Many customers pretty much expect great holiday promotions from the brands and boutiques they love. Start planning out what sorts of promotions you’ll run and when you’ll run them. Stagger promos and marketing efforts carefully so you have a flow of ongoing sales instead of a few huge peaks. It’ll make it easier for you to fulfill orders and provide great service.

With COVID-19, it’ll be difficult to predict exactly how long shipping times will take. To make it easier for you to ship items out well in time for the holidays, incentivize early buying with sales. Experts predict that Amazon’s October Prime Week will cause many buyers to purchase holiday gifts earlier than ever before. Consider offering a sale during it in an effort to pick up some of that traffic.

You’ll also want to make sure you take advantage of Black Friday. Many of the largest retailers have already announced that their stores will be closed for Thanksgiving weekend, meaning there will be far fewer in-person Black Friday doorbuster deals. Try and capture some of that excitement online by offering a great deal for Thanksgiving weekend.
Expect delays

During the 2020 holiday season, getting packages to arrive on your customers’ doorsteps on time will be tricky. Encourage people to buy early. Be transparent about shipping delays you’re aware of and do your best to manage your customers’ expectations. As tempting as it may be, don’t promise a delivery date you can’t guarantee.

Once the guaranteed holiday shipping deadline passes, offer virtual gift cards that can be instantly delivered and used towards any item in your shop. This provides a way for last-minute shoppers to still support your shop.

Prepare for fulfillment & delivery

A lot of online boutique owners are out there running a one-woman show – but during the holiday season, you might want some help. If you usually do shipping and fulfillment operations all by yourself, consider enlisting a friend or an employee to help with the busy season.

If you have a brick-and-mortar location or a lot of local customers, offer in-person pickup to allow customers to save on shipping costs – and to allow you to package and mail fewer orders!

To sum up – to prepare your online store for the holiday season during COVID-19, you’d best get started now. Start ordering wholesale boutique items now so you have plenty of time to prepare for any delays, update your inventory, schedule out promotions, and allow your customers to order their gifts as early as possible.

Supplied members enjoy up to 75% off of wholesale prices on over 100,000 wholesale boutique items. And with free shipping, flexible payment terms, and no minimum orders, it’s perfect for stocking up quickly in preparation for the holiday season. Become a member (it’s free!) and place your first order today.


Joseph Heller is a small business expert and CEO of Supplied makes it easier for small boutique owners around the world to access high-quality, affordable wholesale boutique items, whether to stock their physical store or IG shop.


(Global) Trade Schools: You Can Travel the Country or the World for Solid International Trade Studies

The mission of is, as the name implies, find the best school for a particular student. When it came to recently determining the best schools in the world for international trade education, the website followed the now-beaten path of looking at what the competition has done along the same lines and crunching all the data collected to arrive at conclusions.

Specifically, used the lauded QS rankings “as our point of departure,” setting those findings against the conclusions of, which relies on machine learning and search algorithms to characterize academic influence on the web (and thus avoiding the human bias that infects most academic rankings).

“By weighing both the QS Programmatic World Rankings and Academic Influence’s rankings, we not only created a unique ranking of the top 50 business and economics programs, but we reveal why each university business and economics program appears where it does,” states’s introduction to “The 50 Best Business and Economics Programs in the World Today.”

Global Trade has taken a deeper dive, winnowing from “The 50 Best Business and Economics Programs in the World Today” those institutions that specifically focus on international trade.

1. Stanford University

Palo Alto, California

Opened in 1891 and located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford serves 7,000 undergraduate students and 9,000 graduate students. Founded in 1925, the Stanford Graduate School of Business offers an MBA, an accelerated master of science in management, and a Ph.D. Students can also choose to participate in Executive Education programs or two global certificate programs. And Stanford’s extensive alumni network includes former students from more than 50 countries.

2. University of Oxford

Oxford, United Kingdom

Established in the twelfth century before the Magna Carta and the Aztec Empire, Oxford has had an unquestionable global and historical impact. Innumerable world leaders, brilliant thinkers and reformers have attended Oxford, including Percy Bysshe Shelley, G.H. Hardy and Stephen Hawking. A modern program set within the 800-year-old university, the Saïd Business School offers many challenging degree tracks, including MBA and Executive MBA programs, and you can also get a Global Business degree from Oxford.

3. Bocconi University

Milan, Italy

Established in 1902, this was the first college in Italy to grant an economics degree and to focus its teaching and research on economics, business and law. Bocconi University offers students an elite education and access to major companies and international agencies. The four-year world bachelor in business offers a unique curriculum divided into study both at Bocconi and at two partnering schools: the University of Southern California and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Bocconi’s comprehensive suite of two-year MS degrees are mostly taught in English. They include majors in management, economics and social sciences, and economics and management of innovation and technology. The school also offers one-year specialized master’s programs in quantitative finance and risk management, and green management, energy, and corporate social responsibility. All are taught in English.

4. Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut

Yale, one of the premier Ivy League institutions, boasts a history that dates to the 1640s and it has made a significant historical and global impact in the academic world. The global influences of Yale’s students and faculty can be seen in Africa, eastern Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America, and the Caribbean. The majority of international study and networking is organized through the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. The Yale School of Management offers a Global Pre-MBA Leadership Program.

5. University of California-Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California

UCLA’s Anderson School of Management prides itself on collaborative interdisciplinary research and includes a Global Executive MBA program. Among the academic areas of research is Global Economics and Management.

6. New York University

New York, New York

Founded in 1831, NYU has always been globally minded, and since it first opened the school has expanded into Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America, with 11 global academic centers and research programs in more than 25 countries. However, its base remains Wall Street, and among the NYU Stern School of Business, programs are an MS in Global Finance, the TRIUM Global Executive MBA, and the Langone Part-time MBA for Working Professionals.

7. University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan

As one of the first public universities in the nation, the University of Michigan has an academic outreach that includes 17 centers and programs with global themes that cover more than 65 languages. The Institute of International Education ranked UM sixth in the nation for international studies. Michigan’s Ross School of Business, which was established in 1924, currently offers a Supply Chain Management degree program.

8. Duke University

Durham, North Carolina

With its small 8-1 student-teacher ratio, the academic environment at Duke University is relaxed and encouraging. However, this does not detract from the global outreach and cutting-edge research done by Duke. The university invests $992.8 million in research annually, and its network of more than 157,000 active alumni worldwide further contributes to the school’s high-quality reputation as one of the best business schools.

Established in 1969, the Fuqua School of Business allows students to pursue an MBA through daytime courses, a cross-continent program, a global executive track and weekend executive courses.

9. University of Toronto

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Networking opportunities abound at the University of Toronto, which has had one of the strongest research and academic faculties in Canada since its establishment in 1827. The alumni network includes 537,000 students worldwide. Located in Canada’s commercial capital, the university’s Rotman School of Management is the largest and most influential business school in the nation. The MBA programs offered are flexible, and among the variety of options is the Omnium Global Executive Program.


Fontainebleau, France

Formally known as the Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires, INSEAD was founded in 1957 as a graduate-level business school. Available degree programs include an MBA, an executive MBA, an executive master of coaching and consulting for change, a master’s in finance, and a Ph.D. INSEAD has established campuses in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and student exchange programs exist in partnership with Penn’s Wharton School, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and Tsinghua University in China. INSEAD’s 15 affiliated research centers include The Africa Initiative and The Global Leadership Centre.

mineral wool

The Global Mineral Wool Market Started to Slow Down

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Slag Wool, Rock Wool And Similar Mineral Wools And Mixtures – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends And Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

For the fifth consecutive year, the global mineral wool market recorded growth in sales value, which increased by 0.3% to $30.9B in 2019. The market value increased at an average annual rate of +2.1% over the period from 2013 to 2019; the trend pattern remained consistent, with only minor fluctuations in certain years. Over the period under review, the global market attained the maximum level in 2019 and is likely to continue growing in years to come.

Consumption by Country

The countries with the highest volumes of mineral wool consumption in 2019 were China (4.9M tonnes), the U.S. (3.9M tonnes) and India (2M tonnes), together comprising 56% of global consumption. Japan, Russia, Mexico, Germany, South Korea, Thailand, Canada and Saudi Arabia lagged somewhat behind, together comprising a further 25%.

From 2013 to 2019, the most notable rate of growth in terms of mineral wool consumption, amongst the main consuming countries, was attained by Saudi Arabia, while mineral wool consumption for the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, China ($6.8B), the U.S. ($6.2B) and Japan ($5.1B) appeared to be the countries with the highest levels of market value in 2019, together comprising 58% of the global market. India, Mexico, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Russia, Thailand and Canada lagged somewhat behind, together accounting for a further 28%.

The countries with the highest levels of mineral wool per capita consumption in 2019 were the U.S. (12 kg per person), Japan (9.63 kg per person) and Saudi Arabia (8.70 kg per person).


In 2019, global mineral wool production expanded to 19M tonnes, increasing by 4.3% compared with the year before. The total output volume increased at an average annual rate of +1.8% from 2013 to 2019; the trend pattern remained consistent, with somewhat noticeable fluctuations throughout the analyzed period.

Production by Country

The countries with the highest volumes of mineral wool production in 2019 were China (5M tonnes), the U.S. (3.8M tonnes) and India (2M tonnes), with a combined 56% share of global production. These countries were followed by Japan, Russia, Mexico, Germany, South Korea, Canada, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Poland, which together accounted for a further 28%.

From 2013 to 2019, the most notable rate of growth in terms of mineral wool production, amongst the leading producing countries, was attained by Saudi Arabia, while mineral wool production for the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.


After three years of growth, purchases abroad of slag wool, rock wool and similar mineral wools and mixtures decreased by -3.3% to 2.3M tonnes in 2019. The total import volume increased at an average annual rate of +3.9% over the period from 2013 to 2019. Global imports peaked at 2.3M tonnes in 2018, and then declined modestly in the following year.

In value terms, mineral wool imports shrank slightly to $2.6B (IndexBox estimates) in 2019. The total import value increased at an average annual rate of +2.6% from 2013 to 2019; however, the trend pattern remained relatively stable, with somewhat noticeable fluctuations throughout the analyzed period.

Imports by Country

France (183K tonnes), Italy (156K tonnes), the U.S. (137K tonnes), Germany (132K tonnes), Austria (113K tonnes), Romania (85K tonnes), Kazakhstan (81K tonnes), Sweden (81K tonnes), Poland (72K tonnes), the Czech Republic (67K tonnes), Belgium (63K tonnes) and Belarus (59K tonnes) represented roughly 54% of total imports of slag wool, rock wool and similar mineral wools and mixtures in 2019.

From 2013 to 2019, the biggest increases were in Romania, while purchases for the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, the largest mineral wool importing markets worldwide were Germany ($203M), the U.S. ($186M) and France ($180M), with a combined 22% share of global imports. Italy, Austria, Poland, Belgium, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Romania, Kazakhstan and Belarus lagged somewhat behind, together accounting for a further 26%.

Import Prices by Country

The average mineral wool import price stood at $1,155 per tonne in 2019, flattening at the previous year. Over the period under review, the import price recorded a slight shrinkage. The pace of growth appeared the most rapid in 2018 when the average import price increased by 4.8% y-o-y. Over the period under review, average import prices reached the maximum at $1,295 per tonne in 2014; however, from 2015 to 2019, import prices stood at a somewhat lower figure.

Prices varied noticeably by the country of destination; the country with the highest price was Germany ($1,535 per tonne), while Kazakhstan ($485 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2013 to 2019, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Poland, while the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform

export credit


At the Sept. 9 end of the two-day 2020 G12 Heads of Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) meeting, which EXIM Bank hosted virtually from its Washington, D.C. headquarters, the 12 Heads of ECAs issued this first-ever G12 joint statement:

The 2020 G12 Heads of Export Credit Agencies (ECA) Meeting was a productive and open exchange that highlighted efforts aimed at stabilizing the availability of working capital and export credit in a volatile international market environment. The transparent discussion brought forth the important work each ECA is undertaking to mitigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ECA leaders reiterated their steadfast commitment to supporting their global supply chains—domestically and internationally—as well as promoting exports, job security, and financial investment, all of which underpin prosperity at home and abroad.

During the meeting, EXIM Chairman Kimberly A. Reed met with her counterparts from Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom.

“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is an important time for Export Credit Agency leaders from around the world to find common ground on key initiatives, especially those that foster greater transparency,” Reed says in a post-meeting statement.

“I am pleased that my foreign counterparts could join me virtually for a robust two-day discussion and look forward to continuing our important work of ensuring a level playing field for exporters around the world.”


The Philippines, India, and Indonesia Dominate the $35B-Worth Global Coconut Market

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

In 2019, after two years of growth, there was decline in the global coconut market, when its value decreased by -3.2% to $35.2B. Overall, consumption, however, saw a relatively flat trend pattern. The pace of growth appeared the most rapid in 2018 when the market value increased by 7.9% year-to-year. As a result, consumption reached a peak level of $36.4B, and then dropped modestly in the following year.

Consumption By Country

The countries with the highest volumes of coconut consumption in 2019 were Indonesia (18M tonnes), the Philippines (15M tonnes) and India (12M tonnes), together accounting for 71% of global consumption. These countries were followed by Sri Lanka, Brazil, Viet Nam, Papua New Guinea, Mexico and Thailand, which together accounted for a further 16%.

From 2013 to 2019, the most notable rate of growth in terms of coconut consumption, amongst the main consuming countries, was attained by Viet Nam, while coconut consumption for the other global leaders experienced mixed trends in the consumption figures.

In value terms, the largest coconut markets worldwide were the Philippines ($9.8B), India ($6.8B) and Indonesia ($4.8B), together comprising 61% of the global market. These countries were followed by Sri Lanka, Brazil, Thailand, Viet Nam, Papua New Guinea and Mexico, which together accounted for a further 18%.

The countries with the highest levels of coconut per capita consumption in 2019 were Papua New Guinea (140 kg per person), the Philippines (136 kg per person) and Sri Lanka (125 kg per person).


In 2019, the number of coconuts produced worldwide reached 62M tonnes, approximately reflecting the previous year. Overall, production, however, continues to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2018 when the production volume increased by 2.4% year-to-year. Global production peaked at 62M tonnes in 2013; however, from 2014 to 2019, production stood at a somewhat lower figure.

Production by Country

The countries with the highest volumes of coconut production in 2019 were Indonesia (18M tonnes), the Philippines (15M tonnes) and India (12M tonnes), together accounting for 72% of global production. Sri Lanka, Brazil, Viet Nam, Papua New Guinea and Mexico lagged somewhat behind, together comprising a further 14%.

From 2013 to 2019, the biggest increases were in Viet Nam, while coconut production for the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Harvested Area and Yield

In 2019, the global harvested area of coconuts amounted to 13M ha, approximately equating the previous year. Over the period under review, the harvested area recorded a relatively flat trend pattern. In 2019, the global average coconut yield declined to 5 tonnes per ha, standing approx. at the previous year’s figure.


For the fourth consecutive year, the global market recorded growth in overseas shipments of coconuts, which increased by 11% to 1.1M tonnes in 2019. Over the period under review, exports posted a prominent increase. Over the period under review, global exports attained the maximum in 2019 and are expected to retain growth in the immediate term. In value terms, coconut exports rose significantly to $527M (IndexBox estimates) in 2019.

Exports by Country

Indonesia represented the major exporter of coconuts in the world, with the volume of exports resulting at 474K tonnes, which was approx. 44% of total exports in 2019. Thailand (178K tonnes) ranks second in terms of the total exports with a 16% share, followed by Viet Nam (16%) and India (9.9%). Guyana (27K tonnes), Hong Kong SAR (25K tonnes) and Sri Lanka (21K tonnes) held a little share of total exports.

From 2013 to 2019, the average annual rates of growth with regard to coconut exports from Indonesia stood at +29.1%. At the same time, Hong Kong SAR (+47.5%), Thailand (+26.7%), Guyana (+17.3%), India (+13.6%) and Viet Nam (+6.2%) displayed positive paces of growth. By contrast, Sri Lanka (-14.7%) illustrated a downward trend over the same period.

In value terms, Thailand ($151M), Indonesia ($115M) and Viet Nam ($88M) appeared to be the countries with the highest levels of exports in 2019, together comprising 67% of global exports. India, Sri Lanka and Guyana lagged somewhat behind, together accounting for a further 18%.

Export Prices by Country

The average coconut export price stood at $487 per tonne in 2019, with an increase of 1.9% against the previous year. Overall, the export price, however, continues to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern. The growth pace was the most rapid in 2015 an increase of 11% y-o-y. Over the period under review, average export prices attained the maximum at $528 per tonne in 2017; however, from 2018 to 2019, export prices stood at a somewhat lower figure.

There were significant differences in the average prices amongst the major exporting countries. In 2019, the country with the highest price was Sri Lanka ($852 per tonne), while Indonesia ($242 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2013 to 2019, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Sri Lanka, while the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform


Disrupt The Disruption: How Businesses Can Meet COVID-Forced Changes Head On

Businesses continue to navigate the changes that COVID-19 has wrought on the economy, rethinking how they serve customers, searching desperately for ways to cut spending, and trying to make long-term plans while ensuring short-term survival.

But it’s worth remembering that change that disrupts the economy is nothing new – with or without a pandemic, says Juan Riboldi (, an international business advisor, author, and president of Ascent Advisor, a management consulting firm.

“The real issue businesses leaders must deal with is not change,” Riboldi says. “Instead the issue is what can we do so that we and our businesses can benefit from the change that COVID has brought.”

Anyone wondering where to begin should first look inward, he says.

“Since all change starts with individuals,” Riboldi says, “we must learn to recognize and correct negative tendencies in ourselves that keep us from successfully addressing change. A better understanding of these bad habits or tendencies will help us know how to effectively resolve them.”

To meet the changes caused by COVID-19 head-on, Riboldi says business leaders should:

Keep the trust level in your company high. When a manager goes back on decisions, hides uncomfortable news, or plays office politics for personal convenience, others in the organization will begin to distrust that manager. “If you make promises, be sure to keep them,” Riboldi says. “Otherwise you will lose the trust of others as well as their respect, both of which are desperately needed as you manage change.”

Stay focused. “Lack of focus is a main cause for why smart people do dumb things,” Riboldi says. “Being busy does not mean accomplishing more. When we work at a frantic pace, we often make more mistakes.” For businesses, this problem is magnified by the kind of economic uncertainty the country is going through right now, he says. “Companies experiencing  tough times often respond to unpredictable situations by panicking,” Riboldi says. “They try to do more with less, rather than simplifying and becoming more focused.”

Keep employee training on track. Businesses already worry that entry-level employees are deficient in many of the skills needed to do the job, Riboldi says. Many companies respond to economic downturns by cutting training and development budgets. “Doing away with training may provide temporary financial relief, but at a long-term cost on the capability of your workforce,” Riboldi says.

Inspire commitment in employees. The role of the immediate supervisor is essential for fostering commitment in workers, Riboldi says. When a supervisor fails to lead employees in a way that inspires teamwork and collaboration, commitment falters. “The most common problem affecting morale is when supervisors don’t provide employees with sincere recognition for their work,” he says. “Too often, supervisors fail to give heartfelt praise for a job well done. This simple action costs nothing and takes little time to do, and yet it is a crucial component in engaging a workforce.”

Understand the importance of short-term results. Riboldi says most major organizational change efforts fail to deliver the expected results. One of the main reasons for that is a lack of success early on. “Many promising change initiatives become prematurely aborted due to failure to show short-term gains,” he says. “Insufficient attention to short-term results kills even the best strategies and plans.” To be successful, Riboldi says, an organization must balance the short and the long term. “Achieving early wins builds support for pursuing longer term goals,” he says.

“Fortunately, the problems we encounter as we deal with change are both avoidable and curable,” Riboldi says. “We can identify their root causes and replace them with something better.”


Juan Riboldi ( is an international business advisor and principal and president of Ascent Advisor, a management consulting firm. He is the author of the upcoming book, Strategic Transformation: How to Deliver What Matters Most. For over 20 years, Riboldi has been advising leaders at the highest levels of business, education and government on strategy, organization, and execution. His clients include Fortune 50 corporations as well as fast-growing private enterprises. He successfully launched and led three consulting firms, and completed post-graduate studies at Harvard Business School and Wharton School of Business.

short order

TK Maxx – The Poster Child for Short Order Purchasing?

In the midst of the global pandemic, with a second wave threatening and further lockdowns looking ever more likely, retail experts have been championing the importance of e-commerce in order for businesses to survive the crisis – says Mina Melikova, CEO of TradeGala and owner of online fashion retailer – Goddiva.

Surely these extreme safety measures must have taken a toll on the company’s fortunes? Unsurprisingly, the company made a loss in the first quarter of the year with sales falling by 31%, but while other retail chains are studying administration procedures, TK Maxx has risen to become the UK’s sixth-largest retailer, taking over from the giant that is Arcadia Group’s Topshop. Company directors are reportedly looking forward to the second half of the year with confidence and are even looking to expand their high street presence with more store openings in the near future. So how did this discount chain store buck industry trends and come out of the crisis stronger than before?

The secret to its success, it seems, is in the company’s agile buying approach. Unlike other major retailers which purchase their stock months in advance, TK Maxx follows the short order purchase model, buying “little and often” according to current industry trends.

So while other major retailers were stuck with warehouse loads of bikinis and holiday fashion which was no longer of interest to a consumer base whose Summer holidays had been canceled, TK Maxx was able to reduce its purchasing during the enforced closure of high street stores and quickly react to customer needs, concentrating on more popular product ranges such as homeware and childrenswear upon reopening. Every item purchased goes directly to the shop floor, so there’s no guesswork or forecasting required – the purchasing team can react directly to immediate sales and plan the next investment accordingly. As other stores are looking for ways to offload unwanted stock, TK Maxx is now in the enviable position to be able to snap up deals from retailers around the world and pass these reductions onto their customer base which, in the current climate, is looking for bargains more than ever.

The Coronavirus crisis has clearly shaken up the fashion and retail industries. Major fashion houses are looking to move to more “seasonless” designs, and away from the relentless five-season a year fashion calendar which until now has been at the heart of traditional sourcing methods. The bi-annual fashion weeks predicting trends months in advance, the never-ending trade show seasons around the world, the forward ordering of stock based on what the industry assures us will be popular – these methods are no longer relevant, or even possible in some cases. TK Maxx’s short order purchasing model has allowed it to continue to grow even in these unprecedented times, and the benefits of this agile technique are clear as we move forward into an uncertain future.

Fortunately, it’s not only industry giants that can take advantage of this innovation – with wholesale fashion marketplaces like TradeGala, retailers of all sizes can purchase short order fashion from international brands in just a few clicks. From purchase to store within less than a week in most cases, independent retailers can adapt to their customers’ needs and update their stock without the financial risk. With the best fashion, shoes, and accessories brands from around the world, TradeGala offers buyers womenswear, menswear, and childrenswear at the touch of a button. Make short order purchasing the reason for your retail business success – register for a buyer account today at TradeGala.


Mina Melikova is the CEO of TradeGala and owner of online fashion retailer – Goddiva.


How to Gain an Advantage in Manufacturing Facilities During Post-Crisis Times

In the United States today, as many manufacturers have entered post-crisis phases in their facilities, some have a much different business model than they did entering 2020. Others, such as those who manufacture medical supplies, craft supplies, and pet supplies, don’t look much different than they did at the beginning of the year, outside of a backlog of orders that they are doing their best to fill in a timely fashion. 

Some manufacturers were surprised at how well their products did during crisis times earlier in the year. For example, LumenAID, a manufacturer of portable, solar-powered lanterns that double as a phone charger, has seen a huge uptick in sales. It seems with people preparing for times unknown, emergency supply manufacturers of this type can’t fill the shelves quickly enough. Other manufacturers were well aware of the need for their products, like office chairs, school supplies, and pet training products. The comforts of home for those stuck at home became the quick front-runners in sales, and suppliers with stored inventories were pleasantly surprised with their sales numbers. 

Yet, for some manufacturing facilities, especially in the hardest-hit areas of the country, it wasn’t a lack of demand that shut down the product lines. It was the lack of production associates able to make it to the facility. Quarantine, public transportation being shut down, mandatory stay at home orders, and a lack of child care left some facilities looking much like a part of a ghost town. The most prepared of those production facilities put that time in the hands of their plant engineers and maintenance managers, and for good reason. 

In an industry where it is often common for machines to run in 72-hour cycles or longer to meet production needs, the downtime came as a blessing in disguise to many engineers and mechanics. They strapped on their tool belts and began performing preventative maintenance that had been put off, in some cases, until the machinery refused to operate any longer. While many production associates were home by no choice of their own, skeleton crews of mechanics and engineers quietly worked behind the scenes to ensure that the production lines that these associates returned to were repaired, lubed, and ready to run for another 100,000 rotations. 

While You Were Out…

Although we’re not positive what the “new” normal will look like, manufacturers are doing their best to get back to business as usual.  One key element is ensuring that their facility can handle the workload, and well-maintained production lines are a fundamental part of that process. Even those production facilities that did not have to implement the Emergency Contingency Plan and were still able to run socially distanced production shifts were finding difficulty in getting the parts necessary to perform preventative maintenance on their production machinery. 

Facilities with CMMS systems that handled their maintenance parts rooms were seeing just how much those systems did for them, possibly for the first time ever. These manufacturing facilities were able to perform preventative maintenance as normal, because of the reorder point set in the CMMS, ensuring that the parts to perform the maintenance were, indeed, stocked in the parts room. Due to the human element being removed by CMMS, the moment the last technician performed the PM and took the part off of the shelf, the system already issued a purchase order and had a replacement on the way. 

Full Speed Ahead

As manufacturers are getting back into the swing of things, especially those fortunate enough to have orders that they need to fill, the appreciation for well-maintained machines is at an all-time high. With most of the country able to return to work, and production lines full of associates thankful to be back on the line, returning to a facility with newly maintained machinery is just another day in manufacturing. However, from the mechanics and engineers who worked solo overnight shifts to prepare for firing the production lines back up, there is a nearly audible sigh of relief when the conveyor belts start running. 

Preventative maintenance was, in some facilities, the only items that could be completed during the height of the crisis, and production managers are reaping the benefits of those overhauls at the moment. In notoriously under-maintained facilities, the quietly operating, well-oiled machinery that is producing post-pandemic inventory is a sign of moving into stronger financial times. 

As A Post-Crisis Model

If your production facility is running at a pre-pandemic rate, you’ve more than likely gotten back into the normal preventative maintenance schedule, less a few adjustments. For those facilities that don’t have the need to run full production shifts at this point, investing labor dollars into machine maintenance is a smart move. Although the need may not be there at the moment, when the orders do come in, the ability to perform full production runs without stopping because of unperformed routine maintenance will be one more way to stay competitive. 

Well maintained machinery produces to specification, which reduces scrap and reworks exponentially. By producing a consistent and reliable product, your facility develops a reputation for quality, and that is priceless in post-crisis America. By ensuring that your production facility is adhering to a preventative maintenance schedule, you’re committing to running products that are manufactured to strict standards at a time when they’re more valued than ever. A CMMS is another tool in a manufacturer’s facility to ensure that they’re producing items that meet or exceed the expectations of their customers. 

In addition, maintenance costs are decreased by 5-10 percent by having a preventative maintenance program in place in a manufacturing facility. It also decreases the time spent repairing machinery by 20-50 percent. In terms of looking out for the bottom line as manufacturing facilities try to push forward in uncertain economic times, a strong preventative maintenance program makes sense. In saving both time and money long term for manufacturing facilities, preventative maintenance can help manufacturers get a leg up in the post-crisis American economy. 


Co-Founder and CEO of REDLIST. Raised in a construction environment, Talmage has been involved in heavy equipment since he was a toddler. He has degrees and extensive experience in civil, mechanical and industrial engineering. Talmage worked for several years as a field engineer with ExxonMobil servicing many of the largest industrial production facilities in the Country.

steve jobs

7 Supply Chain Lessons from Steve Jobs

From working in the backyard to transforming the world, Steve Jobs has changed the perception of technology. A self-made businessman with an extraordinary vision shook the world with innovative products and designs.

But being a leading personality is not easy. Jobs had his ups and downs in keeping his business at the top. I have done my fair share of research on the management styles of Steve Jobs and analyzed his actions and key messaging to provide value to the end-customers.

Today, the digital world comprises different marketing channels and tactics like email marketing, social media marketing, affiliate marketing, pay-per-click, and more. But Jobs started his product line way before these channels picked up the pace.

So what’s the special ingredient in Apple’s success? The answer lies in its supply chain process. Here’s what Steve Jobs taught us.

1. Customer is the Priority

With an aim to build extremely worthwhile products according to the customer’s wants, Jobs changed the narrative of business operations. The first and foremost supply chain lesson from Steve Jobs is to put customers as the priority and cost-cutting as secondary.

Creating a great product doesn’t suffice in itself. Improving and nurturing a great product is a virtuous cycle. Jobs believed the same. Accordingly, he suggested building a product that provides value to its customers. Furthermore, he focused on product differentiation and seamless deliverability to ensure customer satisfaction.

From 1983 to 1993, Jobs wasn’t a part of Apple due to several hardships. The company reversed the strategy to profit maximization as the priority. As a result, it observed great losses.

Jobs didn’t suggest this mantra for just the sake of sharing it. It is tried and tested to the best of his knowledge. Therefore, if you are running a supply chain business, make customers your top priority.

You can provide value to your customers in one way or another. For instance, you may send real-time email updates to your customers about their product’s location through email marketing software or affordable autoresponders.

In the end, you have to find a way to engage your customers and provide them with a seamless experience.

2. Don’t Set Achievable Targets

Jobs believed in pushing people to achieve to the best of their ability. In other words, achieving the impossible. When Jobs was involved in Pixar, he took inspiration from the movie ‘Star Trek’. The movie was based on aliens who created an alternate reality with their mental force.

One such incident was the creation of a game called ‘Breakout’. Jobs encouraged Steve Wozniak to create the game in four days instead of four months. Ultimately, Wozniak achieved the impossible.

As infuriating it might be, Jobs had a vision of doing extraordinary things.

Identifying and rectifying the product’s shortcomings, as impossible it may seem, is the next supply chain lesson. One such instance is the Macintosh operating system.

An engineer named Larry Kenyon was working on the issue of longer boot-up time. He gave multiple reasons to Jobs for why it is impossible to cut-short the time. Jobs asked, is it possible to reduce mere10 seconds? Kenyon agreed.

Jobs went on to explain that if he would cut 10 seconds, it would save 300 million hours a year and that’s equal to 100 lifetimes per year. As a result, the booting time was reduced by 28 seconds.

Another example can be the very famous iPhone’s Gorilla Glass.

Jobs wanted iPhones to have a scratch-proof glass. Plastic won’t make the cut. Jobs directly went to meet the CEO of Corning, Wendell Weeks. Corning had the capability to manufacture gorilla glass. But Jobs wanted the glass in bulk within six months which sounded impossible to Weeks.

Weeks was astonished but still called up the Corning Facility’s managers. Weeks told them to stop making LCD displays and start making Gorilla glass. Results? They did it in under six months.

Are you ready to double your targets?

3. Set Streamlined Processes

Your supply chain process must not include complex tasks and processes. Whether it’s about inventory, warehouse, logistics, or more, each stage should have defined and streamlined processes.

The essential part is establishing links to deliver a seamless experience. Jobs in his own way made his supply chain process easy by integrating the hardware, the software, and the peripheral devices.

He ensured the best user experience by taking end-to-end responsibility starting from the microprocessor’s performance to buying the devices from the Apple Store. Therefore, he created a whole Apple ecosystem wherein you can connect your iPod to a Mac that has an iTunes software for syncing all the Apple devices.

In short, declutter your supply chain processes and create a seamless strategy.

4. Focus on Necessity and Act Accordingly

When Jobs joined back Apple in 1997, he made everyone stop and focus on the necessities. In a grid of two-by-two, he wrote: “consumer” in the first section and “Pro” in the next section. He labeled the first row as “Desktop” and the second as “Portable”.

He gave a target to his entire team. They had to create four extraordinary products, aiming for one product per quadrant. All the other products must be stopped.

Your supply chain strategy must entail only the necessary touchpoints. Deciding what needs to be eliminated is as necessary is deciding what to incorporate.

His strategy was to list down the 10 most essential things to prioritize. Later, he struck the 7 and focused on the first three.

5. Understand Your Product

The next lesson is somewhat derived from the above-mentioned lesson, that is, eliminating complexity. Jobs focused on product simplification. But before doing that he analyzed the shortcomings of his product. Understanding your products and processes is an essential step to a successful supply chain strategy.

Seeing the product as a manufacturer or designer will never work as a long-term strategy. Rather, you must see your products and processes as an end-user.

As Apple declared, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”, it preached what it said. Jobs appreciated a simplistic style and wanted to incorporate the same in his products and strategies.

According to Jobs, making simple products is more difficult than making a complex one. Moreover, it takes a lot to understand the challenges in order to come up with elegant solutions.

Jobs along with Apple’s industrial designer, Jony Ive, began exploring Apple’s products. When they were discussing the design of the iPod’s interface, Job wanted a clutter-free design. He straightaway wanted to be able to reach anywhere in three clicks in iPod.

For instance, he removed the screen where the users were asked to search a song by name, artist, or album. The results would be displayed according to keywords input. Next, he got rid of the on/off button. The device was smart enough to power down when not in use or light up when in use.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Changes

One thing that should stick with you is predicting the demand for your product. Demand forecasting is quite a common term in the supply chain industry. The question is: how many of you comply and make a radical change?

Steve Jobs did the same with the iPod. Innovation never remains constant. Someone can make better strategies and outsmart you. Therefore, you must take a leap where needed be.

People who were using PCs had to download or swap music and burn their CDs themselves. The slot in iMac’s drive was incapable of burning CDs.

What was a quick solution? Jobs transformed the entire music industry. He created a one-stop solution by combining iTunes, iTunes Store, and iPod. Now, the users could share, buy, play, or manage their music in any of the other devices.

After Jobs relished the success of the iPod, he realized that the product will meet its end soon. He knew that the smartphone makers will add built-in music players to their devices. That is why he started the manufacturing of iPhones.

Soon after his death in 2011, iPods came to an end too in 2014.

7. Envision the Future

Apple’s retail stores are all over the world. Therefore, the last lesson is related to the demand forecast. You may run a local or global business, but tracking your operational details is essential to your business.

What was Apple’s mantra? Apple decreased its average inventory (excluding emergency stocks) which resulted in increased inventory turnover. Meaning, Apple didn’t keep more stocks than required since it can become obsolete.

Apple’s products have a longer life cycle and its sale is not dependent on seasonal factors. However, Jobs never stayed behind in leveraging the seasonal sales season. Since there is high demand during this season, therefore, Jobs shipped and stocked its products to its warehouses via air. This is because shipping products via sea require more lead time than air freight.


Apple’s supply chain process was not the best in its initial phases. However, it evolved gradually with the experiences and learnings. Steve Jobs revolutionized and transformed the digital world. His lessons shall always be remembered and valued.


This guest post is contributed by Kurt Walker who is a blogger and college paper writer. In the course of his studies he developed an interest in innovative technology and likes to keep business owners informed about the latest technology to use to transform their operations. He writes for companies such as Edu BirdieXpertWriters and on various academic and business topics.