In pursuit of a digital global trade platform
Kiwi business TradeWindow has ambitions to digitalise the world’s supply chains with its efficiency-boosting blockchain technology. At a recent media breakfast held at TradeWindow’s Takapuna head office it was appropriate to have a backdrop of container ships steaming through the Rangitoto Channel, as founder and CEO AJ Smith (pictured below) spoke about his company’s digital […]
Kiwi business TradeWindow has ambitions to digitalise the world’s supply chains with its efficiency-boosting blockchain technology.
At a recent media breakfast held at TradeWindow’s Takapuna head office it was appropriate to have a backdrop of container ships steaming through the Rangitoto Channel, as founder and CEO AJ Smith (pictured below) spoke about his company’s digital technology and forward plans.
AJ was joined by trade commentator Stephen Jacobi and TradeWindow client Leigh-Anne Furby of ANZCO Foods for a presentation on the role digital trade now plays in how supply chains adapt to the current international trade environment.
In just four years TradeWindow has made major progress on the building and adoption of its signature platform Cube and software acquisition Prodoc – technologies designed to deliver new levels of efficiency and accuracy to an industry that has been traditionally frustrated by delays, errors and reliance on paper-based processes.
TradeWindow’s back-story is an interesting one. The company can trace its origins to pioneering research led by Smith and Kerry Friend which examined the commercial application of blockchain technology. Their passion to speed up commerce and make it more secure had caught the attention of ASB and its start-up incubator programme ASB Edge.
Rapid growth followed, spurred through the acquisition of existing software businesses and organic growth. Prodoc was the most significant acquisition, with its export document software solution helping pave the way to cost-effectively capture market share and build capability.
AJ admits that he has a habit of “running towards fires”, which has helped fuel growth.
In a time where anyone can have a good, or even great, idea he is all about the execution. With his passion for developing successful company brands and establishing key market shares, he is inspired by conquering difficult business challenges through an extensive technical knowledge. It’s the ideal background for someone looking to disrupt global trade.
Making a difference
Today, clients include many of Australasia’s largest importers and exporters, including Huon Aquaculture, Greenlea Premier Meats, Whittaker’s, Sealord, Jack Link’s, Tatua Dairy Company, ANZCO Foods (see sidebox), Dulux Powder Coatings, Open Country Dairy and Sanford.
The company also recently announced a sales agency agreement with a leading Indonesia-based trade facilitator – which builds on agreements already signed with the Philippines and Thailand.
Listed on the NSX a year ago, TradeWindow’s spectacular growth has been the result of the development of new technology-driven solutions, as well as investment in talent, process improvement, sales and marketing, customer support, and opportunistic acquisitions.
The blockchain technology that underpins TradeWindow Cube creates an immutable audit trail, providing a single source of truth throughout the trade documentation process. “This is not just crucial for proving provenance and sustainability claims, but for increasing the level of trust along the supply chain to the end consumer,” explains AJ.
“The ability for TradeWindow Cube to allow people to collaborate on documents is also unique, saving time and increasing visibility,” he says.
It’s important to note that, indirectly, TradeWindow has also had backing from a number of Government agencies as well as international governments committed to accelerating the digitalisation of global trade.
TradeWindow is a member of the Pan-Asian E-Commerce Alliance (PAA), recognised as a storage vault for trade information by New Zealand Customs; and authorised to provide Certificates of Origin through TradeWindow Origin, TradeWindow’s data-driven platform for digital Certificates of Origin (using this technology can reduce the time it takes to generate a Certificate of Origin from up to 24 hours to just 20 seconds).
Other significant partnerships include Mastercard, Vero Marine (offering paperless insurance for exporters) and PortConnect (improved end-to-end supply chain visibility), and in July 2022 an agreement to acquire Rfider went unconditional.
Rfider is a solution for collecting, securing and sharing item level traceability and process data within and across organizations.
Bridging the paper-digital void
Trust has been the key ingredient to TradeWindow’s success. AJ believes it’s not only about having good partners, but also about assembling a great team, thinking big and working closely with customers on their digitalisation journey.
“The size of the opportunity is huge. Trade is so important to the world, but systems have not kept up to meet the demands of global trade. We exist to fill this gap and bridge the void from manual, paper-based trade to modern digital trade facilitation.”
Progress has been via a three-phased plan to deliver a single, global trade platform.
“We are currently transitioning from the first phase, an interoperable suite of solutions, to phase
two – a common trade platform.” AJ explains. “Our phased approach mitigates risk since it allows for commercialisation of new features and functionality as we progressively build out the platform.
“What we are essentially doing is building a global trade platform. At the heart of it we’re a data company. Specifically, we help exporters, importers, freight forwarders and customs brokers securely share their data with their supply chain partners including ports, border agencies, ocean carriers, banks, insurance companies, wholesale customers, and in some cases the end consumer.
“In essence, this creates a network of networks, with all parties working from the same data, a single source of truth,” says AJ.
TradeWindow is the only sector-neutral player providing a vertically integrated digital trade platform covering compliance, operations management, data sharing and storage, internal and external stakeholder collaboration, and end-to-end supply chain traceability.
The inaccuracies and inefficiencies long associated with moving goods across the globe are finally being addressed, and it’s a Kiwi company that’s helping lead the step change.
CASE STUDY: Saving time, saving costs
ANZCO Foods is one of New Zealand’s largest exporters with annual sales of $1.7 billion. It’s diversity of products require multiple layers of documentation, but with the adoption of TradeWindow Prodoc in April 2021 and Cube in November 2021, the multinational reports significantly increased efficiencies, time savings and satisfied customers.
Document manager Leigh-Anne Furby remembers how it no longer made business sense to use paper-based methods in the wake of Covid-19, and they only had a small window of opportunity following the first lockdown to change the company’s systems.
“I knew about Prodoc before we adopted the solution and was aware of its capabilities, but what stood out was the amount of EDI integrations that are part of TradeWindow Prodoc.”
She says the time and cost savings speak for themselves, with daily emails down by 40 to 50, Certificates of Origin now generated within 20 seconds 24/7, and overall productivity up by 63.4 percent.
ANZCO is rolling out TradeWindow Cube to all its offices worldwide, to create a network through the platform.
Article by editor Glenn Baker.