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Trade Without Travel

by Callie Duskin

What a difference a month makes! Back in early March, the majority of us were still in our 9-5(ish) routine – sitting in traffic or shoving onto a packed subway car, to get to the office and greet our colleagues a good morning.  As the confirmed Coronavirus cases has climbed to over two million globally, empty streets and struggling businesses have decelerated the economy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted much of our lives – from home schooling through to online grocery ordering and more baby boomers Snapchatting and TikToking than ever. It has also had serious impacts on international trade and global expansion. The World Trade Organization expects international trade to fall between 13% – 32% in 2020; global supply chains are struggling to find short-term solutions during this crisis, and short-term global expansion plans are being placed on hold.

However, the perpetual negative impacts from COVID-19 have ensured that most of us appreciate the technology in our lives. For those of us fortunate enough to work from home, our daily routine has changed from an overcrowded rush-hour commute to looking presentable enough for videoconferences and not being too embarrassed by the random passing by of a child or spouse in the background. Companies around the world have been leveraging Microsoft Teams, WebEx, Zoom, etc. to stay connected with colleagues during these socially distant times.

Here at OCO Global we are embracing the new normal of “Trade without Travel” and adopting virtual efficiencyto further expand digital transformation strategy for our clients across the world. For example, we are rolling out the concept of Virtual Trade Missions to many of our Economic Development Clients, enabling trade missions to take place at a fraction of the cost, in any country, at any time and with any buyer.

Virtual Missions still accomplish the same objectives of identifying international partners and customers and holding (virtual) in-person meetings. As 5G strengthens globally and we increase our trust in technology, digital innovation will impact the greater International Trade & Investment industry.

One of our UK clients, Boxmodel, has grown significantly in the US. Boxmodel are specialist software architects that deliver bespoke business solutions across the UK and beyond. Given the need for companies to undergo digital transformations in this new world, they are witnessing how organizations can gain a digital competitive advantage amidst this crisis.

Boxmodel CEO Alan Easton stated, “No business is going to be immune [to COVID] … in three months’ time, people will look back and see where they were faulty and not technologically driven.  Organizations should take this opportunity to review where there is a downfall in their business during this crisis and strategize how technology can be incorporated to improve the future business model”.

As we continue to appreciate the limited technology that is keeping our daily lives as normal as possible during the Coronavirus crisis, companies should use this time to plan digital innovation strategies for the future. For example: mitigating risk in the supply chain with 3D printing, using AI to improve customer experience for an international customer base, or even decreasing costs through Virtual Reality training. As Easton states, “having a digital offer enhances the overall offer”.

For further information on how OCO can help you navigate new international markets and explore growth in the US from overseas without getting on a plane, contact me at [email protected]