Part I

Where Are We Now?

Our friend Pearl wants to start a trading house. For better or worse, the world is quite a bit different now than it was in the early days of the great Japanese trading houses, the sogo shosha literally meaning all round trading company—which I’m sure she understands only too well. Perhaps the most significant change to impact her idea is that technology now makes it much easier for buyers to deal directly with suppliers. Is there really a place for a trading house anymore?

Well as the French like to say, plus ça change plus c’est la même chose. For suppliers, the cost of dealing with a large number of customers, some ...

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