In past vacations, you might have strolled through a shopping boulevard or alley in France or Japan glancing at some of the fine fashion or designer items in the shop windows, asking why these kinds of products are not available closer to home or why they aren’t available at the same lower price. Ecommerce has made some global products more readily available for less, but not everything. What about items like sofas, bicycles, or a fine wooden dining table?
Shipping in today’s world is a little archaic and inefficient, but not in terms of fuel costs or the modes of transport. For example, containers can be shipped half empty, but retailers are still required to pay for the full container, not just for the allotted space their items take up. Moreover, if a customer wants to buy a larger item, there aren’t really any affordable shipping solutions to have it delivered. You can quite easily ship a dress or a book, but not bulkier items, because container shipping is not efficient and air freight is too expensive for larger items.
A new startup called “Ladingo”, a play on the term “lading”－the process of loading a cargo vessel－is stepping up to the plate to try and change the playing field and the industry altogether. Ladingo uses an algorithm-based software that optimizes and digitizes the entire process of shipping a product from store or factory to customer in cross-border scenarios, covering lading, tracking, and customs.
Optimization begins with the idea that container space should be maximized to the point where retailers can share freight containers if their products are going to the same destination country or area. This means shipping each item costs less. Think of this idea akin to Uber’s ride-sharing program. You pay less for your ride, because someone else is joining and taking on part of the cost.
The second half of the concept revolves around shipping large, bulk items. Because efficiency is greatly increased and cost reduced per item, that now means larger items, previously expensive to ship individually, are now cheaper to ship. So, in theory, that beautiful couch from Italy or that reliable appliance from Germany should be available to worldwide customers in the future. For retailers, customers needn’t be just down the street, but in another continent.
Perhaps the one obstacle that could put a stop to this movement comes in the form of the importers in countries that Ladingo, and companies following in its footsteps, are trying to penetrate. Importers typically look for products from all over the globe and try to sell them to local vendors, so Ladingo is essentially cutting them out. Would importers be able to stop them, though? It’s hard to tell. The free market is a powerful force, even in the face of protectionist measures or lobbyist efforts.
In the meantime, look for Ladingo to take up the mantle as the next great innovator in the shipping industry. What was impossible to have before as a consumer or a retailer, could now be readily available at the click of a button.