In June 2020, Tradelink and Otto International (OI) concluded talks to extend their partnership for another four years. Tradelink’s technical solutions have helped us at OI digitally transform our entire shipping documentation process by creating our own Trader Documentation Service (TDS). TDS provides benefits to OI’s customers, our employees, and the wider world.
OI and Tradelink began working together in 2006. Back then, the documentation process was very different. “We initially looked at how we could change things internally” says Queenie Wong, GM Shipping. “When we started our agreement, Shipping had to print out documents so that our own Finance team could process them!
“Then we looked at digitising the process with customers. That first year we only had four ‘golden’ suppliers, but now we have over 550.” TDS was primarily offered to suppliers in China, but in recent years the service has grown to include vendors in India, Bangladesh and Turkey, as well as others in major sourcing markets in Southeast Asia. OI also plans to further increase TDS’s geographical coverage by including suppliers from Pakistan as well as select countries within the EU.
TDS is a secure platform that facilitates the exchange of documents between all stakeholders in the supply chain. This single point of access allows regular shipment processes to be better integrated and eliminates repetitive tasks from day-to-day operations. For example, suppliers can book shipments directly with forwarders through TDS because the required documents are already there.
This collection of documents also forms the base of OI’s Vendor Payment Service, where OI serves as a go-between international suppliers and brands to ensure timely and straightforward payments for the former.
Additionally, TDS offers transparency. Shipment data, including vessel information and expected date of arrival, is directly uploaded by forwarders into OI’s in-house system. This provides customers with real-time, accurate and easy-to-access information on their orders in one location.
Most importantly, it is cost-effective and environmentally friendly: “heavy packages that contained thousands of pages of documents used to be couriered from international suppliers to OI,” remembers Queenie. “Now that everything is online, we help the supplier to save trees and save on courier fees.”
For Queenie, the overall benefit of TDS is the extent to which it helps OI to help its customers. “TDS’s efficiency gives us great flexibility, making it even easier for us to offer tailor-made solutions to suit customers’ specific needs.”
While continuing to work with Tradelink to provide efficient and accessible services, OI hopes to make the most of the electronic data they have created. Queenie says, “Our next step is to further utilise this digital record to derive even more meaningful data for internal reporting.”