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Companies across the supply chain are stepping up efforts to help the fight against coronavirus chaos – many offering services free of charge.

Charlie Pool, chief executive of Stowga, a warehousing marketplace which puts suppliers together with buyers, announced: “Stowga is now free to use. We need to do everything we can to keep the supply chain moving.”

He added: “The logistics industry works tirelessly all year round in normal times, and now our partners are working day and night to keep our supermarkets full and deliveries arriving at our doorsteps. Supply chains will have to be flexible in a way never seen before.

“As far as I know, there is no quicker way for logistics companies to find additional warehouse space, services and support than Stowga. The only thing slowing it down was our, admittedly cumbersome, billing processes.

“So we have made our platform free to use for the foreseeable future and the Stowga team will focus on developing the data part of the business.”

And it is not alone: forwarder Ligentia is offering businesses free storage, while space is available, at its Chinese warehouses for up to four weeks.

Daniel Gill, group chief commerical officer, said: ‘We know that as factories in China have hit near normal production levels in the past few weeks, organisations are facing the difficult decision whether to cancel or still ship goods as consumer demand falls due to Covid-19.”

Ligentia said it had been approached by several businesses for space in China. It has warehousing in Tianjin, Qingdao, Shanghai. Ningbo, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Xiamen, and has just added Hong Kong to the list.

“Both retailers and manufacturers are showing an interest, as they are facing inventory management issues at origin,” said a spokesperson.

“The time offered gives organisations some breathing space to work out what to do next, while not soaking up additional costs.”

She added that holding stock at origin could also benefit companies through greater control of inventory, reduced pressure on store operations and distribution networks and time-sensitive demand-based shipping.

“We are looking at new ways to support our customers and wider organisations, and this is one area which we understand meets a growing challenge for importers over the coming months.”

PayCargo, meanwhile, has launched a free communication service via its online payment platform to allow its community to connect and find capacity.

“PayCargo is in a unique position to help the broader cargo community during this time of crisis by facilitating the flow of critical information between payers and vendors,” said Lionel van der Walt, president and chief executive of the Americas,

“Collaboration between stakeholders is vital in this crisis and the supply chain needs to work together as much as possible to help keep freight moving as seamlessly as possible through the supply chain.”

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