Trader is one of the three archetypal pilot roles recognized by the Pilots Federation. In its simplest form, traders purchase commodities on the market economy in one location and follow supply and demand to sell them at another location for profit. Trading links to a dynamic background simulation of the economy based on player activity, which results in changes in prices and volumes of goods in different systems over time, and even the colonization of new systems. This is also known as space trucking. Trader encompasses multiple sub-roles, including Courier, Miner, Passenger Carrier, Salvager, and Smuggler.
Trader rank is gained by selling commodities either legitimately or via smuggling, or by successfully completing missions that involve hauling commodities (space trucking). Missions can be more beneficial than normal trading because they reward faction reputation and trade rank in addition to credits. Any profit from sales contributes to rank advancement. As of 3.2, certain activities, such as boom delivery missions, smuggling missions, and bulk passenger transportation missions also contribute to trade rank, but proceeds from their completion are not tracked by in-game statistics.
The table below lists the estimated amount of profit required to advance to higher trade ranks. Exact numbers are not available in-game, and depending on which activities are used to advance, the amount of profit may differ from player to player.
|Rank||Total Profit Required|
Traders are well-advised to keep some cash in reserve. If by any chance the player loses their ship - whether to pirates or simply a docking accident - the cargo is not insured. For this reason prudent traders will never spend more than 50% or 60% of their credits on any one cargo. No matter how tempting it can be to stuff one's cargo hold completely full with Gold or Progenitor Cells, it is generally not worth the risk of losing all of your working capital at once.
Traders in less-safe systems rely on armour, shields and weapons to dissuade pirates from attacking them, or to buy enough time to make an escape. If you have a lot of extra space, you can carry a small amount of cheap items to jettison if you are attacked and need to buy some time to get away. Jettisoning inexpensive cargo can buy you time for a jump to hyperspace.
Mission Boards will often offer a special reward for some specific items so when you arrive with cargo, you should check the bulletin board first to see if you can make a higher profit that way.
The galaxy map offers tools to track existing trade routes where high supply from one system is sent by NPC's to a high demand in another system. It is also possible to discover your own trade routes outside of this. By heavy trading, you can "bleed a system dry" so that they go from high supply to low or no supply, or lower the demand for a certain commodity. Thus, you can never be entirely sure that a trade route will stay as a stable income.
Some NPC traders may set up shop in a system and broadcast their location outside of stations. This allows for players to do even shorter hops to and from station systems if commodities are available. One example are the traders searching for luxury items, but profits from using these show up as black market transactions.
Recommended ships for trading are freighters such as the Type-9 Heavy, Type-7 Transporter, Type-6 Transporter, Keelback, and Hauler. Multipurpose ships such as the Asp Explorer, Imperial Cutter, and Python are also suitable for hauling relatively large quantities of commodities compared to other ships in their size class and price range. When choosing a ship for trading, the two most important factors are the ship's overall cargo capacity followed by resilience. Traders should choose the largest ship they can afford and are comfortable flying and supplying. Keep in mind that giving up defensive options such as a Shield Generator or Hull Reinforcement Package for more Cargo Racks can make them vulnerable to hostiles at an inopportune moment. A trader may make dozens of runs along the same route with no issues, only to suddenly encounter a pirate and be destroyed, resulting in a significant financial setback.
- Various Third Party Tools have been created that can be useful for trading: