Global supply chain activity surges to pre-pandemic levels In Q3, but cash crunch leaves suppliers vulnerable

Tradeshift’s Global Index of Trade Health is based on analysis of business-to-business transaction volumes across the Tradeshift network during the period of July 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020.

  • Release of pent-up demand triggers order volume surge in July before falling back in August and September.
  • Trade activity in the Eurozone and the US beats the global average. UK struggles, China plateaus.
  • Rising orders fail to address cash crunch across supplier ecosystems.

SAN FRANCISCO October 20th, 2020 - The number of purchase orders and invoices exchanged across global supply chains rose by 15% in Q3 after falling by a similar margin in Q2, the latest Index of Global Trade Health from Tradeshift can reveal. 

The report, which is based on analysis of transaction data flowing between buyers and suppliers across Tradeshift’s network, suggests activity levels in major supply chain hubs in the West and China are beginning to stabilize after a tumultuous period. Transactions in the Eurozone grew by the greatest margin, up 26% in Q3 as supply chains in the region added further momentum to the recovery Tradeshift saw towards the end of Q2. Trade activity between buyers and suppliers in the US also exceeded the global average, growing by 17% in Q3. 

In the UK, where trade activity levels had dropped by 23% in Q2, the bounceback in transaction volumes during Q3 was much weaker. After a relatively strong July, a significant drop off in activity during August and September meant that UK supply chain activity finished the quarter just 6.1% up on Q2. 

Activity slows as pent-up demand recedes

Other regions also showed signs of a similar slowdown, suggesting the release of pent-up demand after lockdown restrictions eased in the West may have fuelled the early burst of activity across supply chains in July. 

Transactions on the Tradeshift platform surged 24% in July. But month on month activity subsequently fell by 12% in August, before recovering slightly in September.  In China, activity levels across the Tradeshift network looked on course to reach a level not seen since Q4 2019 in July. By September however, total transactions across the region’s supply chains had fallen by more than 18%.

“Global lockdown restrictions created a pressure cooker environment for supply chains,” said Christian Lanng, CEO of Tradeshift.  “When the restrictions began to ease, we saw orders start to surge in June. This momentum continued into July before tailing off rapidly as supply lines normalised. Order volumes on our platform are comfortably ahead of where they were in Q2,  but supply chains will need to hit a higher gear again in Q4 before we can to point to a sustainable recovery. The next few months will be critical.”

Liquidity crunch putting supplier livelihoods at risk

A 20% rise in order volumes during Q3 should provide a welcome cashflow boost to suppliers towards the end of the year. But according to Tradeshift, action may be needed before then to address the current liquidity crisis affecting suppliers. A record fall in order volumes during Q2 meant invoice settlements remained low throughout the quarter. With the average small business having just 27 days of cash in reserve, many will be coming dangerously close to running out of money.

“Lack of digitization in global supply chains makes it very hard to unlock the liquidity that’s owed to suppliers,” said Christian Lanng. “ So, instead of getting paid quickly, suppliers have to wait months before orders translate into cash. We should start to see some of the current liquidity pressure begin to ease in Q4. Whether or not every supplier will make it that far is another question. If ever there was a time to rip up the old playbook and start doing things differently, it is now.” 

About the Global Index of Trade Health

Tradeshift’s Global Index of Trade Health is based on analysis of business-to-business transaction volumes (orders processed from buyers and invoices processed from suppliers) across the Tradeshift network during the period of July 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020. For monthly comparisons, we looked at transaction volumes for each month during the third quarter and compared these figures to an average of the monthly transaction volumes we saw on our platform during the second quarter of 2020 (April 1 - July 31). For quarterly comparisons we looked at Tradeshift platform data across the entire third quarter and compared this to data during the same period in Q2. 

About Tradeshift

Tradeshift drives supply chain innovation for the digitally connected economy. As the leader in supply chain payments and marketplaces, the company helps buyers and suppliers digitize all their trade transactions, collaborate on every process, and connect with any supply chain app. More than 1.5 million companies across 190 countries trust Tradeshift to process over half a trillion USD in transaction value, making it the largest global business network for buying and selling. Discover commerce for all at tradeshift.com.

© 2020 Tradeshift Holdings, Inc. or a Tradeshift affiliate company. All rights reserved. The Tradeshift Global Health of Trade Index and this article are copyrighted works. This document is protected by U.S. and international copyright and intellectual property laws.   It may be linked to and referenced with the following attribution “Tradeshift © 2020 Tradeshift Holdings, Inc.” 

Tradeshift is a registered trademark or trademark of Tradeshift Holdings, Inc. in the United States and/or other jurisdictions. All other marks and names mentioned in this article may be trademarks of their respective companies. 

This article is intended for information purposes only, is based on a segment of industry data and may not prove to be an accurate representation of trade volumes.  Tradeshift makes no warranty or representation as to the accuracy of this information.

PR for Tradeshift

Harry Ronaldson

pr@tradeshift.com