Supply Chain

The small business advent calendar: 20 December A treat from inside a container

Hannah Wilkinson | 20 December 2015 | 8 years ago

container shipping
Over the days leading up to Christmas well be revealing one juicy morsel of small business reading every day
For today’s delicious nugget of festive enterprise trivia, Business Advice brings you a fact about the number of containers scattered around the world as part of the global supply chain.

There were 20m shipping containers in existence in 2012 the last time it was calculated. And 90 per cent of all the world’s cargo starts life in one of the steel boxes.

Though they spend most of their time on ships, the majority of the storage units which are usually either 20 or 40 ft long are intermodal, meaning they can be transferred between boats, trains and trucks without the unloading and reloading of goods.

But why does this matter to micro businesses? Well, for the 34 per cent of SMEs looking to break into new markets overseas in the next two years, according to research published by Albion Ventures in November, it’s inevitable that these containers will form an important part of the supply chain.

With additional recent research from HSBC suggesting that the world is on the cusp of a third wave of globalisation? which will see trade in merchandise quadruple by 2015, and small firms making up the vast majority of UK businesses, more and more British micro firms are likely to be transporting goods around the world using container shipping in future.

And in October, David Cameron appointed Alibaba founder Jack Ma to his to his Business Advisory Group to help and advise on how to get small and medium-sized British businesses boosting exports and, in particular, accessing Chinese markets.

As Charles Lee, one of the co-founders of online container shipping platform Kontainers, told Business Advice: Until teleportation becomes a thing, I think shipping is going to be around for a long while.

Come back tomorrow to see the final week of our small business advent calendar unfold.

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