According to the 2107 Supply Chain Worldwide survey by Geodis, achieving supply chain visibility has risen to the third most important strategic priority for businesses in 2017 from the sixth in 2015. However, only 6% of organizations believe they’ve achieved complete supply chain visibility. Closing the gap is top of the mind for many. But in an industry characterized by privacy and lack of transparency, this issue remains more challenging than meets the eye.
One company that’s setting out to change the course of business as usual in the global supply chain is Shippabo. The company is setting out with the ambitious mission of transforming shipping and logistics with a cloud-based supply chain management platform.
Founded by Nina Luu, Shippabo was born out of frustration that she felt while managing the supply chain in her own business, IGH, an importer and distributor of lifestyle products that ships 1,000+ SKUs globally. When Luu realized that a single operating system that provided transparency did not exist, she set out to create one.
Luu tells FreightWaves, “Shippabo is a supply chain solution that helps businesses streamline their international shipping like air and bulk cargo. We take your booking contracts, whether your carrier or your vendor partners, so we can see what’s being moved and process the items."
Testing the platform on her own business first, Shippabo’s SaaS technology helped IGH reduce their freight costs by more than 10%.
From there, Shippabo grew, and so have the success stories. They’ve now worked with LootCrate, the worldwide leader in fan subscription boxes, to move their entire shipping process online and track all of their inbound freight to expedite their processes. Another major customer is Technicolor, a worldwide technology leader in the media and entertainment sector, to digitize their entire workflow, aggregating and organizing the data around shipment to bring greater transparency to where shipments are going, and create ongoing scalable processes resulting in a reduction in overall freight spend by approximately $150,000 in the first month of use.
It’s not really about whether you work with any specific entity like a UPS or FedEx or even USPS. “We help connect contracts together in one location. How to know where and how to ship and then to track. It’s even more granular to track what’s inside.”
For Luu, the biggest challenge right now is breaking through the cultural barriers of the way things have always been done. “Educating clients and enabling clients that the system is ready to drive customers’ profits. Being able to communicate with them. It’s an old industry, sure. You can’t blame them,” Luu adds. “Supply chain is their livelihood. To make changes too quickly could be disrupting.”
“Another thing that helps is to help them understand that changes take time. It’s a process, not just something done overnight.”
Along those same lines, Luu says they’re always trying to improve what they’ve already established. “We’re always in beta,” says Luu, “constantly improving our system and adapting to our customers’ needs.”
While it sounds similar to blockchain, it’s not. “It’s our own system. We see blockchain is more of a philosophy right now. Ours is a proprietary system. We track inventory information and where it is in the supply chain and your processes. We also track customs, even at the terminal level. It’s very comprehensive tracking. From automated data to other stakeholder’s processes.”
While breaking through the cultural barriers is certainly a challenge, not to mention managing the complexities of international shipping, Luu and her team are breaking new ground in an important space. “One thing that excites me about Shippabo,” says Luu, “is that we’re helping businesses experience change. We’re helping businesses scale and connect to their own supply chain network. I think that’s really important to think about because your system has to stand the test of time. It’s not just immediate visibility, but a comprehensive system that allows you to scale."