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A world without borders has long been the dream of many. Today, with the advent of technology, we are getting closer to fulfillment. Even if the physical borders are still not gone, technology has undoubtedly shrunk the world.
It has not only simplified cross-border trade, but also democratized it, allowing startups and small businesses to efficiently expand into international markets, something previously reserved for large corporations. Today, cross-border trade is proving to be an effective way for these companies to increase brand awareness in global markets, thereby increasing the scope of revenue generation and ease of customer acquisition. According to the data shared by our sources, the value of international cross-border shipping from India is estimated to be around US$129 billion by 2025. Additionally, India is home to approximately 63 million small and medium-sized enterprises, which hold a 54 percent share of the country’s cross-border shipping operations. This is also further driven by the recent launch of the National Logistics Policy (NLP) to encourage seamless movement of goods across India and improve the competitiveness of products in both domestic and global markets.
This opportunity is being seized by cross-border logistics players who are using advanced technologies to help independent companies enable direct trade.
The rise of cross-border logistics platforms
Indian platforms operating in the cross-border logistics space include Shiprocket, iThink Logistics, Porter, FreightFox, FarEye, Cogoport, Rivigo, Shipsy, Delhivery, Blackbuck, Freightwalla and others. Among these, Shiprocket, Delhivery, and Blackbuck have become unicorns. Recently, Amazon India also launched a cross-border logistics platform, SEND, which provides end-to-end support to Indian exporters. The platform is currently available for exporters on Amazon Global Selling.
“Up until now, B2C cross-border e-commerce has been the domain of sellers selling on global marketplaces such as eBay, Etsy and Amazon, but in the future we expect many Indian D2C brands to expand into this space as well. India is one of the top ten countries in terms of cross-border e-commerce growth,” said Akshay Ghulati, co-founder, strategy and global expansion, Shiprocket. The company offers individuals and companies the opportunity to ship their products to the US, to UK, Australia and various other countries.It ships to more than 220 countries and has courier partners like DHL, FedEx and Aramex under its banner.
“The highly fragmented nature of India’s logistics industry, multiple regulatory bodies, manual approval processes, poor shipment visibility, stakeholder collaboration, growing cost losses and evolving customer expectations are some of the key drivers of technology adoption in this sector,” said Soham Choksi, CEO and co-founder by Shipsy.
According to TurningIdeas Ventures 2021 survey, 42 percent of Indian startups are preparing to enter the global market in 2022 -Border logistics holds great promise for Indian logistics players. Effective cross-border logistics requires diverse organizational skills that know- how and relevant technologies for land transportation, container movement and optimization, freight forwarding process and customs, and for this Indian logistic companies need to evolve and work with the synergies of global players to create a network that can be used to transport goods with quality, safety, correct documents and cost according to international standards,” said Nitish Rai, co-founder and CEO of FreightFox.
LPaaS and other trends
We’re also seeing the emergence of many LPaaS (Logistics Platforms as a Service) in the space. These platforms bridge the gap between logistics and technology by offering one-stop solutions to micro, small and medium-sized retailers. “The rise of LPaaS platforms is a classic case of ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. During the pandemic, multi-stakeholder companies realized they needed better supply chain visibility. This accelerated the need to create end-to-end visibility into their supply chain. As supply chains manage goods at rest (warehousing) and goods in transit (single or multi-modal logistics) to tie all of this together, logistics wins as a service provide better insights into these segments,” Rai said.
Experts call these platforms a breath of fresh air that offer customized solutions, innovation and integration. “The advent of LPaaS is primarily driven by the democratization of technology at an affordable price point that meets the ROI expectations of industry stakeholders and the need to build an organization-wide extension of the value chain,” he added.
Another key trend we’re seeing today is the way startups are using data to deliver actionable insights. “There is also a silver lining in terms of data awareness. Businesses want to make sense of this data and apply the insights to their operations, second and last mile delivery goes hand in hand with the company’s vision and what its next step can be to achieve holistic growth,” Rai added.
Additionally, freight procurement automation helps companies save on freight procurement costs by competitive bidding and retrieving up-to-date rates and historical data, allowing shippers to access the best freight rates at all times. There is also an alarming need for real-time container tracking. “Spreadsheet-based tracking and the need to visit multiple carrier and shipping company websites make it impossible to provide customers with real-time container status. These methods take more than 7 minutes to track a single container. Businesses are rapidly moving towards utilizing platforms that provide a unified view of all container movements and help manage different carriers/carriers under a single dashboard,” said Choksi.
gain competitive advantage
With increasing opportunities in space and technology becoming available to everyone, the space startups need to keep upping their game. For example, performing deep data integrations and achieving the ability to actually use data from different streams to develop and deploy credible information systems can help a startup have an edge over others.
“Second is the collaboration. It is a very important factor in the coming times like platform-to-platform collaboration and integrations to cross-fertilize information and actions that are more responsive and informed. Each platform has its own expertise that can drive the synergy that gives both parties the opportunity to deliver value to the customer together,” Rai said.
Startups also need to keep up with the growth of infrastructure at the pace of logistics and the changes that will accompany them in the supply chain. In addition, it is important for these players, as for any other company, to understand the needs and challenges of consumers. “A platform that understands and addresses unique customer challenges, that ensures expertise is translated into state-of-the-art product capabilities, ensures seamless integrations across disparate logistics infrastructures through intelligent APIs, and delivers tangible business outcomes represents a major competitive advantage,” said Choksi.
While opportunities abound in this space, leveraging technology and data to understand consumer pain points will be critical. It will help more and more startups gain a foothold in this highly competitive space.