Does this story sound familiar? You browse the Internet searching for a product and you find something marketed as better and cheaper than the competition. The ad looks great, it's all catchy and you go for it. Only when the item arrived it turns out to be a low-quality imitation, which doesn't match what was promised. We hope you've only heard of such cases and never experienced them yourself.
Aren't we talking about shipping?
Choosing the right shipping software has some aspects in common with online shopping – you compare different products and their pricings, you check out the reviews, you trust the seller on what they're promising, and you take a final decision what to buy. That being said, while it’s obvious when you’ve been scammed online, coming to the same conclusion about shipping software takes much more time – that one is non-refundable. Furthermore, choosing wrong can take your company through some chop.
How can you tell a false promise then?
The only one who can evaluate the quality of the product received is you. But if you don’t like being in the position of having wasted your time and finances on a scam, you can also ask people known to deliver up to expectations. We have pioneered digitalization in shipping coming through the Dotcom Boom. In the process, we've seen companies promise the impossible, consume investors’ cash and ultimately be washed away by reality.
In our 22 years of experience and self-powered business model, we're proud to have created the ultimate set of tools and data for shipbrokers, charterers, shipowners, analysts and other industry players.
When it's obviously impossible
The latest smoke and mirrors involve software providers making bold claims about what they are delivering. However, we know for a fact some of them are unattainable due to tech-stack limitations and/or data lacking accuracy and depth to support the claims.
If you see an automated email content extraction tool, promoted as an alternative to AXSReader and a Market Monitoring tool at the same time, you should be very wary. As the name implies, an email parsing software automates the process of transforming email messages into actionable vessel supply/demand data. It’s not a new concept, as we have been providing such a service for over 12 years to hundreds of companies. As they can vouch, it can save an average of 60 minutes per person per day, taking care of 300 million emails per year, and their privacy of data is guaranteed. Yet, this remains far from having the complexity required for a much tougher job.
A true Market Monitoring solution like Trade Flows adds much more to the mix than an email parser. The data inside has been pooled in depth for years of actual ship and commodity movements. This allows Trade Flows to even make predictions of vessel and cargo destinations. It is a much more complicated process than just scrolling through at a fraction of market emails to drive surface conclusions. Any scuba diver with experience will tell you how different reality at depth is compared to the blurry view of the surface.
With Trade Flows, you can see for example that in 2021 shipments of Urea, Sulphur, Petcoke, Potash and Cement combined accounted for 3.73% of all Dry Bulk shipped by vessel around the world. Through its granular data, this reality becomes easy to uncover. The number of voyages carrying the aforementioned commodities represented only 8.17% of all laden legs during the same period. Would you trust those numbers to provide you with a proper read of the market?
On the other hand, Iron Ore is the "lion's share" of seaborne Dry Bulk, accounting for 26.7% of all Dry Bulk cargoes transported in 2021. By our calculations, if one attempts to use the outcome of an automated email reading tool to monitor the market, about a 6% market coverage is expected. The big players such as Vale, FMG, BHP, Rio Tinto, and other miners will rarely expose their private cargoes via commercial emails. According to several well-known and experienced Capesize shipbrokers, cargoes quoted via emails for Capes only represent about 15% of what is really moving.
The pretty chart that seems accurate at first glance
Another trick recently used is limited data displayed on a percentage basis. This is a trick used to hide a lack of quality data coverage. So, if you see a variation percentage chart instead of one using proper measured quantities, that should raise some flags for you.
Whether you are a direct shipping professional, a commodity trader, an analyst, a quantitative or hedge fund, we're sure you care about the best possible intelligence. Thus, you should act with caution and diligence to make the best-informed decisions.
If you’re promised a lot, with not much asked in return, from a service or product, this will likely expose you and your data to serving interests that may not be yours. As they say, if you're not paying for the product, you are the product.
Do you want to avoid overpaying for underwhelming products that don't deliver what you were promised? Try out our Trade Flows solution to monitor the market in its entirety.