Thursday, July 28, 2022
Thursday, July 21, 2022
“I don’t have time.”
How often do you seek someone’s attention only to hear that phrase? How often do you use that phrase with others?
In the seafood industry, where staff layers have been cut back and where margins are razor-thin, it’s customary to be extremely busy. Some may even feel a sense of importance because they don’t have room in their schedules.
But are you keeping busy with the right things?
Recall the Eisenhower Matrix, which organizes work based on urgency and importance:
Are you too busy here…
…to have time for what’s here?
Wouldn’t it be nice to receive the gift of time? To free up your schedule to focus on more important things, and things you don’t get around to enough in your daily activities?
Negotiating seafood transactions is pretty important, and urgent, so this usually receives a lot of attention, rightly so.
But after the transaction is negotiated, what happens next? Hiding right behind the negotiation lies a host of necessary tasks which eat up valuable time. Think about all the different teams both inside and outside your company who need to be informed of the details of the transaction – logistics services, inspection services, operations, accounting, and more.
Dealboard believes you can gain back valuable time by rethinking how you connect the place where you negotiate transactions with the rest of your business. Any time you re-type something into another system or pick up the phone to recite information to someone else, you’re consuming your own time on tasks which, though urgent, aren’t the most important. To make matters worse, if you are anything less than absolutely perfect every time you do this, you might make a simple mistake and introduce an error which costs you and others even more valuable time to correct.
Give yourself and your team the gift of time by improving and automating your operations. Negotiate transactions using a platform which can automatically and flawlessly transmit the transaction details to the systems, departments and third parties who need to spring into action to fulfill it.
You deserve the gift of time.
Friday, July 8, 2022
Everything which used to be reliable and stable in seafood has changed… so what's next?
Professor Thomas Gilovich of Cornell University wrote an engaging book some decades ago titled How We Know What Isn’t So. It’s about our human propensity to form beliefs which were never true.
That’s a bit different from what’s happening in the seafood industry right now, where quite a bit used to be true, but isn’t so any longer. Nearly everything traditionally reliable about the seafood supply chain has now changed.
These aren’t misperceptions. Truths we used to rely on have been thrown overboard.
Case in point:
What Used To Be So…
…What We Now Know
Our labor force would turn over, but was generally stable and returned year after year
We face constant worker shortages in plants and in ports
China’s processing industry was an insatiable source of raw material demand
China’s Zero-COVID policies idle processing facilities, killing demand
Fuel and transportation costs would fluctuate but over the long term were fairly predictable and inflation was a non-issue
Fuel costs are almost 50% higher than a year ago, influencing transportation and other costs of doing business
Growing openness between nations increased economic interdependency
War drove international sanctions, closing the Russian market to outside seafood
Is there a war on the global seafood supply chain? Probably not. Does it feel like there’s a war on the global seafood supply chain? From inside the industry, facing this volatility and the invalidation of our prior means of operating, it can absolutely seem that way.
Seafood companies need to rethink processing. We need to seek new markets to replace the old ones which are now closed. We need new trading partners who are open for business. We care about the location of trading partners more than ever before because of port and transportation cost issues.
Essentially, seafood companies need a new way to do business. And given that change seems to be the one thing which is consistent, the new way of doing business needs to enable our businesses to become more nimble than they are today – the best thing we can do is prepare our businesses to withstand future volatility.
Are you ready?
Thursday, May 19, 2022
How many of you clicked that? How many of you knew not to click it?
The link above is harmless, but the next email you receive might not be. In the seafood industry we do a lot of fishing, but how much do we worry about phishing?
Phishing is the practice of sending emails which look real for the express purpose of stealing private information. Phishing emails might lure the recipient into providing things like account number or passwords, or they might trick the recipient into clicking on a file attachment which unleashes malicious code.
When your business revolves around communicating or responding to offers via email, your business is at risk for phishing. Think about it....
Do you feel like clicking on the file attachment in your next offer email? What if it launched a virus which stole all of your email contacts - your trading partners - and sent them to your competitor?
It pays to spot phishing. But here's the challenge -
This may not be a phishing email...
...and this may be a phishing email:
Can you spot the difference?
Neither can we.
The only path to phishless fish is to manage your seafood trading in a private, safe and secure platform... and not in your emails.
Thursday, May 12, 2022
How do you negotiate the terms of the deal?
(price, quantity, payment terms, delivery, and more)
Dealboard’s research indicates the overwhelming majority of the seafood industry relies on text messaging – Skype, iMessage, WhatsApp, WeChat and more.
Here is yet another example of technology under-serving the seafood industry, because these methods of communication introduce problematic situations for something as important as the terms of the deal for a large seafood transaction between two companies.
Problem 1: Did the Chicken or the Egg Come First?
Seafood deals require agreement on a lot of different terms and conditions, requiring exchange of many messages to arrive at an agreement.
Unfortunately, since messages cross each other, the sequence in which you see your messages may not be the same as the sequence seen by the recipient. This means you see the discussion differently.
Consider how confusing it is to rely on text messaging for something much simpler than negotiating a seafood transaction - such as arranging to meet my son for dinner later in the week. This simple task falls down under the constraints of text messaging. To understand why, read the text exchange pictured below:
What is it that we agreed to, exactly? I have no idea whether he likes the time, the first location, or the second location I proposed.
Text messaging leaves dangerously wide room for interpretation. Do you want your trading partners to misunderstand shipping information? Payment terms? Price or quantity?
Problem 2: The Single Thread
Text messaging is convenient, but it reduces communication between parties to a single thread. If you communicate with someone frequently, that's a long thread! It becomes tremendously difficult to scroll back in time to review what was agreed some time ago.
What happens when you're negotiating with one person about the mussels, but also the cod? It is nearly impossible to keep track of which text messages relate to which product offers.
Problem 3: Privacy, and Preserving Your Margin
How many times have you, or someone you know, accidentally replied on the wrong thread? When this happens in our personal lives it's embarrassing, but when it happens in professional life you are probably giving away critical information which could harm your negotiations and rob you of available margin.
Wouldn't it be nice if there were a better, cleaner way to negotiate seafood transactions that was just as easy as text messaging, but with none of the shortcomings associated with that generic technology?
That's where Dealboard comes in. Stop being under-served... learn more or sign up for a free trial at www.dealboard.biz.
Thursday, April 21, 2022
How do you discover who is interested in what you have to buy or sell?
According to Dealboard’s research, if you are like 90% of seafood producers, processors and wholesalers – by far the majority of the industry – you rely on email communications and some texting to figure this out. It’s clear that technology has under-served the seafood industry, and this is yet another example. Email is an incredibly un-productive way to conduct the business of seafood transactions, for a host of reasons:
Email requires manual effort and copy/paste to construct, which takes time and introduces errors
To use email effectively for seafood offers, Dealboard often finds companies maintaining product and pricing information in Excel spreadsheets. They use this to copy-and-paste information into an email offer. But how do you know that all your buyers or sellers are working from the latest information? And, for each offer, there are always specific details that are unique to the offer and need to be filled in manually. It’s a cumbersome process in which mistakes happen. With email, you might accidentally communicate the wrong thing.
Your message easily gets lost in the noise
Seafood buyers and sellers typically receive 150 to 200 emails a day. If what you’re offering isn’t what they’re looking for at that moment, will they remember you an hour, a day, or a week later? They might. But it’s more than likely that your message will get lost and they will respond to someone else who offered them a similar product more recently than you did.
Email is unstructured, which makes it nearly impossible to find all the right opportunities
One way to find earlier emails is to search for them. But, search is problematic because email is unstructured and subject to semantic differences and input errors. Consider the following two offers, for identical product. If you were looking through the last few days of recent emails (hundreds, maybe thousands) to find offers for sole, you would want to find both of these:
They’re identical, but described differently.
Various parts of the world refer to the same fish using different names, which is understandable (orange boxes).
Luckily, we have the scientific name to use as a common means to identify a species of fish, however in one of the cases above the scientific name is misspelled (purple boxes). As Dealboard works with seafood companies around the globe, we uncover scientific name misspellings very frequently.
Even standard codes such as FAO fishing areas can be referred to in different ways (green boxes). A human being can easily identify that both offers were caught in the same fishing area, but your generic email system wouldn’t.
If you were searching your inbox for recent offers for sole, none of the normal search terms you might use would show you both of these offers. You would miss one or the other, or both of these offers. That means missed opportunities for buyers and for sellers.
Moral of the story:
A rose by any other name might smell as sweet… but you would never be able to locate it in your email inbox.
It's time for a new way to discover who is interested in what you have to buy or sell, which gets around the limitations of email.
Thursday, March 24, 2022
News: Dealboard and Euler Hermes announce partnership to bring confidence to wholesale seafood transactions
Integration enables seafood producers, processors, wholesalers, exporters and brokers to manage credit insurance coverage while negotiating transactions
Dealboard, the global electronic seafood market, and Euler Hermes, the world's largest trade credit insurance company, announce a partnership to bring certainty, efficiency and ease to the process of buying and selling wholesale seafood. Trade credit insurance provided by Euler Hermes may now be easily accessed and managed through Dealboard’s e-commerce platform.
“Providing a fast and easy means to access trade credit insurance gives seafood suppliers assurance that they will get paid for goods they sell,” said Steve Engdahl, director, Dealboard. “Our customers want a simple user experience. Our integration with Euler Hermes delivers Dealboard customers a clean, simple and very efficient way to negotiate and transact with confidence.”
“Euler Hermes saw the opportunity to provide an additional level of protection and certainty to our policyholders transacting on the Dealboard platform,” said Aaron Lindstrom, regional head of partnerships, Euler Hermes North America. “Our integration with Dealboard eliminates extra manual steps or the need to pivot between multiple systems in order to finalize and insure seafood deals.”
Seafood producers, processors, wholesalers, exporters and brokers need to assess the creditworthiness of potential buyers. Now they may confirm or establish Euler Hermes trade credit insurance coverage for their trading parties as they negotiate transactions within Dealboard. Dealboard provides the tools and marketplace for finalizing transactions, insurance is offered by Euler Hermes, and Dealboard makes use of Euler Hermes APIs to bring credit insurance inquiries to the seller’s fingertips.
Dealboard is the global electronic seafood market, a SaaS software platform for producers, processors, wholesalers, exporters and brokers of seafood. Dealboard brings transparency, traceability and efficiency to global food supply chains through communities of trust, making global electronic trading affordable, easy and seamless. Dealboard solutions undo fragmentation, eliminate factors which undermine trust, and level the playing field for vendors of all sizes and regions.
For more information, please visit www.dealboard.biz
About Euler Hermes
Euler Hermes is the global leader in trade credit insurance and a recognized specialist in the areas of surety, collections, structured trade credit and political risk. Headquartered in Paris, Euler Hermes is present in more than 50 countries with 5,800 employees. In 2020, Euler Hermes global business transactions represented 824 billion Euro in exposure. Euler Hermes is a full member of Allianz Group.
For more information, please visit www.eulerhermes.us
Thursday, February 10, 2022
One of the reasons maintaining trusted relationships is so important to the seafood industry is the many disreputable parties who find a way into the seafood supply chain, looking for ways to game the system. Whether it’s IUU fishing, mislabeling, failure to deliver product or failure to pay, these actors work to their advantage and to the detriment of other industry participants. But the chances to be gamed don’t stop at these obvious factors.
There are so many steps in the seafood supply chain, that it’s difficult to preserve margin at each step in the process. Anything that disrupts seller-buyer dynamics is a threat. We all use our relationships and history to know who our trusted buyers and sellers are, versus others who might step in ahead or behind us in the supply chain but not add value. But are there ways a predatory party could lurk in and around your transaction process, undetected?
An important consideration here becomes the independence of your e-commerce platform. When choosing a platform and marketplace for negotiating wholesale seafood transactions, it’s critical to look beyond what the platform offers and who the trading counterparties are, to also understand who is backing the platform itself. Is the platform backed by a broker or seafood company you compete with or transact with? If so, think about the kind of information about your business that company could have access to – who you do business with, what you have available to buy or sell, the prices you’re getting, and more.
Marketplace platforms which aren’t independent are a perfect case of the fox guarding the henhouse… or in this case, guarding your fish.
For the record – Dealboard is an electronic seafood marketplace independent of any broker or competing seafood companies. We do not take a position in any transaction.
As a stand-alone company not affiliated with any broker or competing seafood company, using Dealboard is a way to preserve your business model, your proprietary information, your trusted relationships and your margin.
Thursday, January 13, 2022
In our last post, we concluded that the seafood industry had enough uniqueness that buying and selling seafood is not well served by the predominant industry-agnostic platforms, which among other things, spread information more widely than needed and compound issues associated with trust and relationships.
But, exactly how unique is the seafood industry? If it is truly one-of-a-kind, then addressing industry challenges will always be slow and expensive, since solutions must be bespoke one-offs, and the industry has only its own mistakes to learn from. If, on the other hand, the very characteristics of the seafood industry which render industry-agnostic platforms inappropriate happen to be shared by at least one other industry, then the seafood industry can benefit from lessons learned and successes achieved in that other industry.
We see useful similarities between wholesale seafood transactions and transactions in the securities markets. A fish doesn’t look like a bond, walk like a bond, or – fortunately – taste like a bond, but it might transact like a bond. Or sometimes like a stock. Or, other times, like a derivative.
How to Avoid Getting Gamed
In the stock markets, it doesn’t pay to spread information about your intentions to buy or sell too widely, especially if you have a large quantity to transact. In a world where the average trade size is a couple hundred shares, the company looking to sell a million shares has a tough job. Announcing an intent to sell that much will influence the supply/demand balance and make it impossible to get a good price. This applies to seafood too – rather than telling everyone what you have, it’s important to advertise only to those you have successfully transacted with before, and to advertise a small amount just to identify who’s interested, then go from there.
Know your Customer
Thursday, December 16, 2021
When I’ve spoken at conference events in various locations around the world, I often receive a question about a topic which concerns the industry as a whole, but where the questioner is asking me to comment on the “uniquely X perspective” on a macro-level problem, where X is whatever city, state or country we’re in at that moment.
In many cases, there is a unique twist at a local level to what’s going on, and I’m happy to comment about the unique challenges a broader issue presents for a specific area.
But in other cases, macro-level issues of the world boil down to pretty much the same issues for local participants. For example, to the extent that the nation is dealing with inflation, and my home state of Massachusetts is dealing with inflation, then the dynamics for northeast Massachusetts vs. southeast Massachusetts, when it comes to inflation, aren’t necessarily all that unique. The issues are real, but the “unique” label is spurious.
This applies to different industries, too. At some fundamental level, lessons learned in one industry can be expressed in generic terms which apply directly to other industries. But at other levels, what works for one industry can’t be guaranteed to work in another. The trick is to detect when the “unique” label is valid and when it is spurious.
Today, let’s focus on e-commerce platforms. E-commerce serves a wide range of different industries. A number of really strong e-commerce platforms which are wildly successful across these different industries, for both retail and business-to-business transactions. Take a look at how Alibaba and Amazon Business are doing, for example.
But do these platforms address the unique needs of the seafood industry? As we speak with processors and wholesalers in the seafood industry who have tried platforms such as Alibaba, it’s clear the answer is no. Industry-agnostic platforms leave both buyers and sellers of seafood down in a few ways:
1. They spread information more widely than needed
When buying or selling in bulk, it’s important not to get “gamed” by sharing too much information with too many parties. This is one reason direct messaging technologies such as Skype, email and WhatsApp are so prevalent in the seafood industry. In a world where there are actors who do not intend to transact, but stalk e-commerce platforms to gather information, sharing too much puts you at a disadvantage and can lead you to get less than the best price for your transaction.
2. They compound issues associated with trust and relationships
We’ve written previously about the importance of knowing your counterparty, of building trust, and of maintaining relationships. On many e-commerce platforms, what you post is available to any buyer – whether you know them or not. It won’t help you manage and incentivize those with whom you have the closest trusted relationships, and to the extent you don’t know your buyer, you also don’t know your risk.
We’ve heard horror stories about both issues. So – while there’s a need for e-commerce in the seafood industry, it has enough uniqueness to demand an e-commerce platform which has been specifically tailored to the industry’s needs.
Has your firm tried industry-agnostic or seafood-specific platforms for buying or selling seafood? What has your experience been?
Check back after the holidays for a different take on this subject.