• The electronic environment


    Major international companies have seen that the electronic sharing of non-confidential data and information can shorten delivery, marketing and financing cycles while maintaining acceptable inventory levels, thereby reducing cost and liberating working capital throughout the trade chains. Optimizing the supply chain results in efficiency gains for all parties, and minimizes the complications and risks involved in international trade and shipping.

    Electronic information flows also make it much easier to act proactively when a potential control issue looms: the situation at each stage of the execution of an international shipment is visible, instantly and constantly. Finally, increases in efficiency and security may also add to cash market liquidity.

    Such major change does not happen overnight. We have seen the telex and fax gradually being replaced by email. But what to do with electronic data which is not standardized? How to make optimal use of Internet technology? How to bring the community of coffee exporters, traders, importers, roasters, carriers, warehousemen, government authorities, financial institutions and other service suppliers closer together in sharing data, thereby avoiding duplication and errors? How to create efficiencies for each member of the community in their function within the supply chain and for the coffee community as a whole? What about the security of the data transmission? Will such comprehensive data be used effectively and without compromising the competitive advantage individual companies may have developed over the years?

    Various global shippers have focused their efforts on providing browser-based information services on contracts, delivery orders, shipments and quality. These initiatives have played a meaningful role in the process of automation and creation of supply chain visibility. But in the long run they are not a sustainable solution because they do not allow for efficient, industry-wide data integration. Two mainstream solutions have now evolved:

    • E-marketplaces for commodity trading, and
    • Secure messaging platforms to allow for data integration within the supply chain.
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