Logistics Startup Activity
The second quarter of 2016 saw increased activity with online freight marketplaces: Haven and Fleet both completing funding rounds. Online freight forwarder, iContainers, also completed a funding round. More companies joined the Uber-for-Trucking battle, including Convergo, which recieved backing from a former DHL Global Forwarding CEO.
While drones are still being tested for last-mile delivery, air and ground-based drones are playing a larger role upstream, whether by performing low-cost, automated inventory scans at warehouses or picking and packing goods for e-commerce fulfillment.
Amazon is expanding it’s rapid delivery capabilities, broadening the scope of pilot restaurant delivery programs, bringing same-day shipping into new regions, and adding more automation to it’s warehouses. In response to rampant rumors about an Amazon logistics play, both the company and major courier companies explicitly denied impending competition.
Alibaba’s Cainiao has set itself a mission to reduce China’s logistics cost, from 16% down to 5% of GDP. One way they’re setting out to accomplish this goal? Using a drone name Cao Cao to further automate warehouse tasks.
The rapid e-commerce fulfillment “arms race” continues, as WalMart changes it’s ShippingPass program to match Amazon’s two day shipping. Meanwhile, eBay says it won’t be competing on delivery speed (despite the fact that it’s preparing a speedy shipping program of it’s own).
A slew of companies continue to compete in this increasingly-crowded space. Postmates has emerged as a leading candidate, with higher-than-anticipated profits reported. A number of other companies, including ShipBob and Lalamove raised funds. The food delivery space is really taking off – with Alibaba, the New York Times, and Finland’s Wolt expanding operations.