Since the EA launch, specifically with the game now having two different worlds with very different resources, I've thought more and more about trading and the economy. The conclusion that I've reached is that I would like to see an increased ability to trade raw materials over longer distances.
In the current system, due to the weight of raw materials being many times more than finished goods, it is incredibly inefficient to transport raw materials when compared to finished goods. I have been told that the design intent is for this to be true - that trading be done in finished products rather than raw materials. Whether or not that is the case, I'd like to make an argument in support of increasing the viability of raw material trade as a primary activity.
The reason I think raw material trade should be changed is simply because it adds another play style to the game (shipping) that is not currently very well defined/supported. Additionally, it adds depth to being a merchant and participating in the economy.
The suggestion I would make is to add the ability to "bundle" x amount of raw material (leather, hides, cloth, metal, wood, etc) into a single "heavy" item that can then be placed into a wagon and transported like any other heavy material. Upon arriving at your destination the items could be un-bundled and sold (or perhaps the heavy bundles could be sold on the market and un-bundled by the purchaser).
The primary example behind thinking about this suggestion came from playing on Arboreus. I have leather coming out my ears, but no interest in using it. Even hauling it from my house (where my tubs are) to the closest city isn't worth the effort because I can carry so little of it. And leather is one of the lighter raw materials. I can never imagine myself hauling it through a Stargate 150 pieces at a time.
The big disclaimer here is that allowing bundles in the above manner would potentially increase supply of items globally. Since the transport and sale of raw materials would be easier, people might be less likely to just let items rot on corpses and would be more willing to gather raw materials since their transport and sale would be easier.
The counter argument that I've heard against this suggestion is that distance, time, and fees are an important part of the game and that it shouldn't be easy to transport items. I don't disagree with this assessment at all and I agree those are all important considerations; however I do think things are out of balance when the finished set is worth more than the raw materials and also 5 to 10 times easier to transport for trade (meaning 5 to 10 times lighter than the raw goods).
The efficiency of transporting raw materials can be fine tuned (balanced) by changing the amount of materials in a bundle, adding a maximum weight to wagons, or adjusting the fee to transport while hauling a wagon (via harbor or stargate).
I don't want raw material transport to be easy, I just want it to be a viable activity relative to finished goods. Let people who want to buy low where the supply is high and sell high where the supply is low do it in a manner that is comparable to other forms of making money (i.e. hitting goblins with a stick and generating gold from thin air).