Shipping Global Cargo in the Internet Age

Disruptive innovation in the cargo space

Container ship
Cargo shipments are coming into the Internet age and promise to reshape the transportation industry. Photo Credit: cseeman

In Eleven Questions a Logistics Specialist Will Ask, I talked about how preparation is critical to the success of your import/export movement and offered 11 questions to have answers to before you reach out to a transportation specialist. Since authoring that article, a lot is about to change. Cargo shipments are coming into the Internet age and promise to reshape the transportation industry. Let’s take a look.

According to research firm Pitchbook Data, since the early 2014, venture capital firms have invested more than $1 billion into startup freight-forwarding companies.  Considering this industry from a techie standpoint wasn’t on anyone’s radar, that’s pretty impressive and worth tracking as time goes on. Further, the transportation industry – massive … a multitrillion dollar one – could benefit from improved technology, greater efficiency and transparency. Enough said.

In 2014 Third-Party Logistics Study: The State of Logistics Outsourcing, by Penn State Professor C. John Langley, Jr., Ph.D., and consulting group Capgemini, the authors say, “Shippers (97%) and 3PLs (93%) feel strongly that improved, data-driven decision-making is essential to the future success of their supply chain activities and processes.”  

Another highlight from the study is that 48 percent of shippers expressed interest in collaborating with other companies, even competitors, to achieve logistics cost and service improvements.

That should give you a glimpse into the future of transportation – anything goes – and the right technology is badly needed.     

Two Companies to Watch

Pay attention to these two game changers in the global freight entrant online race.

1.  Flexport

San Francisco, Calif.-based Flexport wants to become the Uber of ocean transportation movements.

It is a licensed customs brokerage and freight forwarder built around an online dashboard. Services include air freight, ocean freight, trucking, fulfillment and cargo insurance. By automating its services and delivering them through an online dashboard, the company is able to reduce costs and improve reliability.

Investors include but are not limited to: Google Ventures, Winklevoss Capital, BoxGroup and Y Combinator. For a full view of all investors, visit:  https://www.flexport.com/about#investors.

Note: Flexport is looking for reliable freight forwarding partners, specifically looking for ocean FCL/LCL, air freight, trucking and fulfillment. Email support@flexport.com or call 855-FLEX-123.

2.  Freightos

Tel Aviv, Israel-based Freightos makes a big, bold statement on its website: “Hey freight. Meet the 21st century. Streamlined quoting. Freight rate management. Online booking.” The company is out to help you compare real-time quotes and book international freight instantly. Easier said than done, but Freightos is giving it a serious try.

Here are the additional claims Freightos makes from its site:

•  “Forwarders/carriers: Increase sales and reduce costs with rate management, tender automation, instant quotes and business intelligence.

•  E-commerce retailers: Sell anything, anywhere, by integrating door-to-door international freight rates directly in shopping carts.

•  Enterprise shippers: Reduce freight spend and improve operations with routing/pricing optimization and price benchmarking.

•     Looking to ship? Generate instant, door-to-door freight quotes from a global network of qualified forwarders.”

Freightos automates the routing and pricing of international freight shipments by working with freight forwarders, which are the backbone of the B2B industry.

What’s in store for the major players in the transportation industry? Your guess is as good as mine, but one thing we can be certain of: change is constant, fast and furious, with new entrants able and willing to turn the transportation industry upside down in a heartbeat.

 If a global company can’t work with new technology, it just might be lost in today’s business world.