The Atlanta-based technology company, which provides a platform for companies to tap into latent contract logistics space and manage warehousing contracts, is looking to be a supply chain partner, not just a marketplace for transactions.
Logistics warehousing in North America, much like the trucking industry, is a fragmented and poorly catalogued industry for the consumer.
That is to say, it’s been historically difficult for shippers that need warehousing capacity in a particularly area to find that capacity in an organized, digital format. And conversely, there’s been few means for contract logistics providers to sell their space to shippers outside of traditional sales channels.
With marketplace technology permeating nearly every facet of logistics the past few years – to what degree that penetration has occurred is still up for debate – this scenario is changing.
But another technology-backed model that’s making waves in freight logistics has now appeared on the scene in contract logistics. Stord is an Atlanta-based startup that’s aiming to provide logistics companies and shippers access to on-demand contract logistics space, but not via a marketplace.
The company’s concept is to tap into excess, unused capacity from contract logistics providers. But it doesn’t want that to happen in an impersonal exchange, where buyers and sellers transact without a true relationship.
Instead, Stord’s model, according to founder Sean Henry, is to function like a logistics partner in its own right, a sort of digitally-enabled 4PL for warehousing.
Henry took part last summer in the first cohort of the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based logistics technology accelerator program Dynamo and has set out to create a market for standardized, flexible procurement of on-demand warehousing.
“We’re the Flexport instead of the Loadsmart,” Henry said to American Shipper in an August interview, referencing two of the better known technology-oriented companies to emerge in recent years.
Flexport is a digitally-empowered freight forwarder while Loadsmart provides an automated trucking capacity marketplace.
“We want to be your logistics partner,” Henry said. “There are a large number of warehouses with excess capacity. We want to lock in standard procedures and rates and turn that around and sell it to our clients.”
Stord works with contract logistics providers to create a digital catalog of available capacity, then standardizes the specifications of that capacity and rates across providers. It then sells the capacity on to its customers (other logistics companies and shippers), providing inventory dashboards and a platform to organize orders to schedule distribution more effectively.
The Stord software is intended to be deployed as a single platform, so that companies can use it to aggregate the management of their other warehousing capacity (whether through long-term or ad hoc contracts). The software also allows users to stage inventory at various facilities in their networks to better fulfill demand.
Stord may sound a bit like another warehousing technology to emerge in recent years, Flexe, but the model for that provider is more strictly around a platform for unlocking latent warehousing capacity. Though Flexe is now offering ancillary fulfillment services, it’s not trying to be the more integrated logistics partner that Stord is.
“We don’t want seasonal demand,” Henry said. “We want to be someone’s partner. We want to be their single source of warehousing and logistics, to be the scalable partner.”
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