The retail segment of the economy was a beneficiary of the COVID-19 pandemic as it generated windfalls as consumer spending habits shifted from services to goods. This shift drove increased demand, but that demand caused ocean container rates to soar and lead times to grow to record levels.
When consumer demand shifted, retailers were effectively left holding the bag as inventory levels soared to levels that retailers were uncomfortable with. Executives at the major retailers were asked numerous times on earnings calls about inventory levels and supply chains as a whole throughout the pandemic.
One major retailer decided that it was time to take a proactive approach and ingest as much data as it could to help better understand the supply and demand dynamics in the global shipping market. The retailer turned to FreightWaves’ Container Atlas and SONAR platforms to create visibility into transportation market dynamics globally.
Through the use of Container Atlas’ ocean intelligence, coupled with the FreightWaves Army of Experts, the retailer was able to improve demand planning cycles and take advantage of lulls in ocean demand. This also allowed the retailer to improve transportation procurement as it was able to benchmark itself against the broader market, identifying areas that it could improve on purchasing behaviors.
These benefits allowed the retailer to largely act faster than competitors, a must in an environment in which consumer patterns are shifting. It also allows for the retailer to be proactive and informed when the market inevitably shifts, reducing the likelihood that a COVID-like surge in freight demand will cripple the company’s supply chain.