Tech disruption in the logistics industry has seen the launch of new and innovative companies, but which ones should you be watching? SeaRates highlights some of the most exciting emerging names in the business…
Disruption is the new normal, and new technologies will continue to emerge and drive the evolution of how we live and work. The same applies to the logistics sector, where the development of new logistics technology by a range of exciting, innovative start-up logistics companies is contributing to a thriving B2B logistics start-up community. Which in 2021 makes it fascinating space to operate in.
Many new businesses are arriving to help address the challenges faced by international logistics customers, something we at SeaRates.com have been doing since 2005, by offering and facilitating freight forwarding services and making use of digital document technology, like SeaRates’ cutting edge smart document service.
We’re not the only company offering outstanding new logistics technology though, so in this article we will look at some of those businesses that have the potential to become the big players of the future.
Innovation is the key!
As a leading provider of smart logistics solutions ourselves, we appreciate how important it is to keep innovating, to enable the flow of trade around the world. By investing in new logistics technology for the supply chain, SeaRates – and organisations like us, can help trade make the transition to a post-COVID world, and a return to global growth.
Continued digital transformation is vital for making supply chains smarter, and ready for the increasing amount of online trade. All of which is essential if we are to helping bring prosperity to more people’s lives, everywhere – and accelerate the world’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have selected the below innovative companies with these objectives in mind, and because they have been identified as some of the most impressive emerging names in logistics technology, and the B2B logistics start-up space.
Our first start-up logistics company is Cogniac, which leverages artificial intelligence (AI) in logistics for supply chain management. The company, founded in 2015 by Amy Wang and Bill Kish, can help reduce errors and speed up the delivery chain through its AI machine vision, which can identify cargo automatically. Cogniac uses “advanced Optical Character Recognition (OCR) models” to automatically identify handwritten or typed letters – such as on “shipping containers where ID numbers are written across corrugated panels to parcels moving at high speed within a sorting facility”. It’s easy to see how this technology could help the logistics industry with intelligent warehouse and inventory management.
Another cool logistics technology company is FLEXE, an on-demand warehousing solution that allows retailers to quickly access affordable warehousing through an online marketplace. Founded in 2013 by Francis Duong, Edmond Yue, and Karl Siebrecht, FLEXE has seen demand for warehousing in North America increase massively as eCommerce has taken off during the COVID-19 pandemic, and has recently raised $80m to fund further growth as a result. With its technology providing a more centralised view of the supply chain, FLEXE provides customers with more control and visibility across the warehouse network. At the same time, its transaction-focused model also means there services available without the need to sign long-term contracts or leases.
Inspired by the naturally occurring frameworks of ant colonies, Calgary-based Attabotics uses robotics to streamline warehouse processes and make the supply chain smarter. This B2B logistics start-up replaces the rows and aisles of traditional fulfilment centres with patented storage structures, and new robotics that make the most of both horizontal and vertical spaces, reducing a company’s warehouse needs by up to 85%. Last year it raised $50m to invest in developing and commercialising its technology.
Logistics technology company Deliverr aims to transform the logistics industry into more of an intelligent, asset-light network, enabling any online seller to offer clearer badging about delivery times, backed by fast and affordable logistics services. The company is already working with some of the best-known e-commerce businesses on the web – such as Walmart, eBay, Amazon, Shopify, Wish, and BigCommerce. Deliverr recently raised $170m to help achieve its plans to become an alternative to Amazon Prime – so there’s no lack of ambition there, clearly!
Founded in 2019, RPA Labs is a B2B logistics start-up specialising in artificial intelligence for logistics and the supply chain, which has recently won investment from the supply chain industry. RPA Labs provides robotic process automation (RPA) for companies “buried in emails, documents, and inefficient processes”. Its AI solution develops an action list through machine learning by watching users go through their own workflow - to understand their processes and interact with existing technology and applications. It says its “ready built and ready to go” solutions can be further customised for logistics and the supply chain. It aims to offer a faster customer experience, which also reduces costs per shipment, and eliminates more labour-intensive mundane tasks.
STORD is a B2B logistics start-up offering a new cloud-based supply chain solution, that allows companies to orchestrate and optimise inventory as well as orders, across their global logistics network – while also serving as a central collaboration hub. STORD runs the leading omnichannel logistics network in North America, offering end-to-end logistics services with pay-as-you-go pricing and “infinite scalability”. The start-up is currently raising money to help those retailers using its platform to deliver products faster and more efficiently, than on their existing infrastructure.
German start-up logistics company Hive focuses on serving e-commerce companies’ warehousing needs where capacity is hard to come by. However, it can also handle pick-ups, packaging and shipping and has strong links with platforms such as Woocommerce and Shopify. Billing itself as ‘logistics for the new age’, Hive helps digitise the supply chain and create advanced solutions for its customers.
Launched in December, B2B logistics startup Cubbo is helping move trade online in emerging markets across Latin America by repurposing distressed real estate assets for micro-fulfilment – or as spaces for online retail. Cubbo is already operating in Colombia and Mexico and aims to launch in other cities in the region.
Enabling greater end-to-end logistics is start-up logistics company Shipium, founded by Jason Murray and Mac Brown in 2019. Like Deliverr, it also helps e-commerce companies offer free and fast shipping with world-class supply chain technology. Shipium was built by veterans from Amazon and Zulily and helps online retailers bridge existing front-end systems with back-end operations to reduce costs, create a more competitive, high quality customer experience, and reduce operational complexity.
Bulgarian B2B logistics start-up Transmetrics specialises in transport planning through its use of artificial intelligence for logistics and the supply chain. Its platform can analyse, model and predict transport flows with very high accuracy. Last year it received a €1.7m grant from the EU’s European Innovation Council Accelerator programme – one of 75 projects to win an award out of more than 1,800 applications. The start-up now plans to offer the technology on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) monthly subscription. During preliminary trials, the technology has saved more than 20% in transport costs in an industry where profit margins can be very thin. It can also help reduce unnecessary carbon emissions by reducing the number of assets required for transport.
Why the logistics industry needs to keep innovating
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us all just how important logistics and supply chains are for ensuring the smooth movement of cargo and goods around the world.
As in industry, we must continue innovating and investing in next-generation solutions to ensure trade continues to flow. Investment along the whole supply chain will help solve many of the challenges our world faces today, whether that’s transporting vaccines or food. By making supply chains smart and more efficient, we can help make people everywhere more prosperous – but especially in developing markets – and together, build a cleaner future. Which is a challenge that we at SeaRates are willing to take on!
If you’re looking for more trusted, innovative partners, why not check out the world's largest directory of freight forwarders and logistics companies – which is free to access on SeaRates.com.
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