For small and mid-sized companies that are growing rapidly, finding warehouses for their overflow is an issue that has not been adequately addressed for a long time. The process behind warehousing logistics has remained the same for decades, with no visible injection of technology for easing up the process.
For small companies that are scaling up operations, their number one intent would be to iterate and improve their product and gain more customers. Although warehousing logistics is at the top of their priority list, it is not something that they can afford to spend a lot of time or resources on, since hiring a dedicated team for supply chain and distribution would reduce margins drastically.
The idea behind Flowspace, a California on-demand warehousing startup was born out of the need and frustration faced by countless logistics and supply chain personnel, looking to identify warehouses to store their product overflow. “At Flowspace, customers can contact us if they need warehouse space and typically within a day or so, we are able to find them a warehouse that can store their product and handle their fulfillment needs,” says Ben Eachus, CEO of Flowspace.
Before founding Flowspace, Eachus had a long career in supply chain and distribution, where he constantly had a hard time locating warehouses to store his company’s product and the long technical integration process required before he could ship the product. Initially, the solution that Flowspace launched did not come with a lot of functionality, but was built to understand the response from potential customers. “We quickly found that the need was high and started building over the product and have done various iterations since then,” notes Eachus.
Flowspace understands that the warehousing market is large and thus, there is no immediate threat to it through market predators. “We focus on small to mid-sized companies and don’t enforce high monthly minimums on our customers,” explains Eachus. “We also view ourselves as a supplement to Amazon fulfillment network and not necessarily a competitor. I say this because a lot of our customers are Amazon sellers who need additional warehouse space for their products, before it goes into the Amazon fulfillment centers.”
The customers get competitive pricing and have a large array of warehouses to choose from, which would not have been possible before Flowspace. The software is also designed to be easy to use and launch into a warehouse, as the hassles of integration are removed by the company. Customers log on to the website, which acts as an inventory management system, where they can create orders and have the warehouse receive them - all with minimal training. “Supply chain software needs to be easier to understand in order to be effective. The quick learning curve is something that is really critical for us,” adds Eachus.
Flowspace banks on its customers’ feedback to keep iterating on critical features which in turn helps them grow their customer base. “We know that speed is really important to our customers and thus when they contact us, we can actually have them move their product into a new facility - often within 24 hours,” says Eachus. “This is because we have been taking their feedback seriously which has made it possible for us to correctly address their needs in the market.”
During the interactions with its customers, Flowspace realized that a lot of the companies needed a solution to book LTL shipments and freight, which had been a problem with the existing conventional marketplaces. Seeing an opportunity here, Flowspace launched real-time freight quotes on its platform, partnering with another company in this endeavor. “When a customer creates an order on our system, he would be able to get a real-time quote and can decide if he wants to book freight then and there,” adds Eachus.
As with all startups working in a large and established industry, Flowspace took its time to gain traction. “We can address the market by continuing to improve our software and make it as easy to use as possible. I think our customers are starting to see the benefit of not having to engage in a long-term contract and the benefit of Flowspace and easily finding warehouse space,” contends Eachus. “On the other hand, our warehouse partners are really embracing us as a way to monetize their excess capacity or space. So I think we have demonstrated a new way of doing business that can be beneficial to all parties.”
Flowspace is now actively hiring with a focus on putting together a world-class engineering team, along with building on its account management team. “The most important thing for us is to ensure our customers have a great experience with us,” concludes Eachus. “And for that, we are constantly iterating on our product and making sure all parties benefit from our system.”
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