The Ins and the Outs
In the past year alone, we’ve seen supply chains straddling between linear and circular movement models. While convention pledges that materials get to the consumers in an efficient manner, unique challenges are involved when raw materials come back in a ‘closed-loop’ manner because a supply chain is dependent on these opportunities as well. With this shift, comes developments in cloud computing as well, enabling easy deployment of technology and systems, which in turn spawns a renewed focus on data analysis. With a perpetual need to improve and increase visibility, firms have also found the need to invest in risk management, in order to cope with burgeoning eco-systems.
The Internet-based retailer in the US has stepped into the trillion-dollar freight industry, with its subsidiary Beijing Century Joyo Courier Services getting registered with the US government as an ocean shipping provider. This could spell an upturn in impact for Amazon’s international sellers, importers, and end consumers; having already built on its logistical presence in the form of air transportation and trucking.
“As an industry, logistics is ripe for technology-driven disruption. And no company is better at leveraging technology to broaden margins than Amazon. Logistics and delivery companies should be tracking these early days of Amazon’s logistics play like hawks. Unless the logistics companies can keep pace with the technological innovation that Amazon is likely to deploy, Amazon Logistics Services may emerge as a new platform in the next decade, unseating existing freight leaders.” – Zvi Schreiber, TechCrunch.
Led by Serena Capital, this startup speaks of ambitions pertaining to moving goods from warehouse to warehouse, in a process which is as easy as booking a hotel room. According to its CEO, Jaime Jimenez, there are ‘more costs built into global shipping than artificial ingredients in frozen TV dinners’. In a process that involves a motherload of engagement with customs agents, consultants, and generous amounts of paperwork, the aim of this startup is to take this cumbersome process online, remove the fuss, and elevate convenience via customized shipping routes, time, prices, and vendors.
“iContainers is a good example of disruption in a known industry that has not yet been digitalized and where the internet will be very helpful.” – Anne-Valerie Bach, a partner at Serena Capital.
The real push for transportation technology is based on the very same decentralization of ownership which the Internet took birth from decades ago.
With backing from Alibaba, this three-year-old logistics firm has been busy enabling deliveries across the vastness of a country that is China, and its other international affiliates, by tapping onto big-data and relevant technology. It’s not just eCommerce that it expertly handles, but also everyday logistics; something that often flies under the radar because the logistics industry as a whole is mostly viewed as a support system.
Figures like 128 warehouses and a whopping 180,000 express delivery stations in China alone, and all this while promising same-day delivery in seven major cities should make people take notice of its ambition. This will translate well into the remainder of the decade where it plans to take off with delivery around the globe.
People often forget that the logistics industry is one of the primary movers and shakers (quite literally) in this world, and we’d be silly not to jump on the obsession that giants like Uber, Amazon, Alibaba have taken under their wings. A key takeaway here is that logistics by nature encompasses many complex tradeoffs, the math, the specific customer value, and how it all relates back to the supply chain. Throw in machine learning, and you’ll get an idea of the kind of opportunities waiting to be unearthed.