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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 realizing it. While physical borders have not yet disappeared, technology has undoubtedly shrunk the world.



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Not only has it simplified cross-border trade, but it has also democratized it by allowing startups and small businesses to efficiently expand into international markets, which until now were limited to large companies. 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 easy customer acquisition. According to data shared by our sources, cross-border international shipping from India is expected to be valued at around $129 billion by 2025. Additionally, India is home to around 63 million small and medium-sized businesses, which hold a 54% share in the country’s cross-border shipping operations. This is further enhanced by the recent launch of the National Logistics Policy (NLP) to promote continuous movement of goods across India and enhance the competitiveness of products in domestic and global markets.

This opportunity is being exploited by cross-border logistics players, who are leveraging advanced technologies to help independent businesses enable direct trade.

The rise of cross-border logistics platforms

Some of the 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 them, Shiprocket, Delhivery and Blackbuck have become unicorns. Recently, Amazon India also launched a cross-border logistics platform, SEND, which offers end-to-end support to Indian exporters. For now, the platform is available to exporters on Amazon Global Selling.

“So far, cross-border B2C e-commerce has been the domain of sellers selling on global marketplaces like eBay, Etsy and Amazon, but in the future, we expect many Indian D2C brands to expand into this area 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 businesses the ability to ship their products to the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and various other countries. It caters to over 220 countries and has courier partners like DHL, FedEx and Aramex under its banner.

“The highly fragmented nature of the Indian logistics sector, multiple regulatory bodies, manual approval processes, low visibility of shipments, collaboration of stakeholders, growing cost leaks and evolving customer expectations are some of the drivers of technology adoption in this industry,” said Soham Choksi. , CEO and co-founder, Shipsy.

According to TurningIdeas Ventures survey in 2021, 42% of Indian startups were preparing to tap the global market in 2022. “As India’s competitiveness strengthened on the global stage for manufactured, commodities, agricultural exports , etc. Cross border logistics is very promising for Indian logistics operators.Effective cross border logistics requires varied organizational skills which include relevant know-how and technologies in surface transportation, container handling and optimization, shipping process of goods and customs, and for this Indian logistics companies need to evolve and also collaborate with the synergies of global players to create a network that can be exploited to deliver goods with quality, safety, correct documents and costs that comply with international standards “said Nitish Rai, co-founder and CEO of FreightFox.

LPaaS and other trends

We are 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 providing one-stop solutions to micro, small and medium sized merchants. “The rise of LPaaS platforms is a classic case of ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’ During the pandemic, companies with multiple stakeholders realized they needed better visibility into the supply chain. has accelerated the need to establish end-to-end visibility into their supply chain. As supply chains handle goods at rest (warehousing) and goods in transit (single or multimodal logistics), to tie it all together, there it is a growing importance of logistics carried out as a service to offer a better view of these segments,” said Rai.

Experts call these platforms a breath of fresh air, offering customized solutions, innovation and integration. “The emergence of LPaaS is primarily driven by the democratization of the technology at an affordable price that fits the ROI expectations of industry stakeholders and the need to build a broader, organizational value chain augmentation,” he added.

Another major trend seen today is how startups leverage data to deliver actionable insights. “There is also a silver lining on the horizon in terms of data awareness. Companies want to make sense of this data and want to apply the insight to their operations. For example, companies are now willing to invest in understanding how their main, secondary delivery and last mile delivery are going hand in hand with the vision of the company and what can be their next step to achieve holistic growth,” Rai added.

Additionally, freight sourcing automation is helping companies save on freight sourcing costs through competitive bidding and retrieving current rates and historical data that gives shippers access to the best freight rates every time. There is also an alarming need to track containers in real time. “Spreadsheet-based tracking and the need to visit multiple shipper 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. they are rapidly moving towards leveraging platforms that offer a unified view of all container movements and help manage different carriers/shippers under one dashboard,” said Choksi.

Gain competitive advantage

With the growing opportunities in the space and the availability of technology for everyone, startups in the space need to keep upping their game. For example, performing comprehensive data integrations and achieving the ability to actually use data from various streams to develop and deliver credible intelligence systems can help one startup have an edge over others.

“The second is collaboration. It is a very important factor in the coming times, such as collaborations and platform-to-platform integrations, to cross-pollinate information and actions that are more responsive and informed. Each platform has its own experience which can fuel the synergy, giving both parties the ability to deliver value to the customer together,” said Rai.

Startups also need to stay aligned with infrastructure growth in the pace of logistics and the accompanying changes in the supply chain. Also, like any other company, it is important that these players understand the needs and challenges of consumers. “A platform that understands and addresses customers’ unique challenges ensures domain experience translates into cutting-edge product capabilities, ensures seamless integrations between disparate logistics infrastructures through intelligent APIs, and delivers tangible business outcomes, represents a great competitive advantage,” Choksi said.

While opportunities abound in the space, using technology and data to understand consumer pain points will be key. It will help more and more startups gain a foothold in this highly competitive space.

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