While global logistics sectors grapple with rising fuel costs and increased warehouse rent, nowhere is the market for warehousing more heated than in Canada, where the national vacancy rate for warehouse space is a record low 1.6%, according to commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group Inc.
Those hit the hardest have been small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) logistics operators, which are feeling the impact of rising operational costs as they gear up for the peak season.
“One crucial environmental factor we’re seeing not only here in Vancouver but across North America as a whole is the rise of operational costs, like fuel and warehouse rental prices,” said Shaun Hagen, CartonCloud COO and head of North America.
“With the rising costs of warehouse space, we are seeing more and more demand for third-party logistics warehousing services being sought by companies who want to outsource their logistics in order to avoid the hassle and expense associated with managing their own storage, handling and distribution,” Hagen said.
“These costs are often out of the control of logistics businesses,” Hagen explained, noting there are other facets that small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can definitely improve, such as the technology used to run their businesses.
That’s where Australia-based CartonCloud comes into play.
The software provider has set up shop at the epicenter of the warehousing crisis, Vancouver, delivering its popular cloud-based software to North American SMBs across the industry to overcome rising operational costs by streamlining their workflows, removing manual data entry and automating processes.
“Here in Vancouver we have a finger on the pulse of the industry rental price hike. We are working directly with logistics companies to understand exactly what they are struggling with and are able to help provide advice on how they can overcome some of these hurdles to grow their businesses,” Hagen said.
“Our software is designed by logistics people; our team has experience in operations and running logistics enterprises; and we work closely with our customers and industry members to ensure our product features and functions are customized to suit the changing needs of businesses today.
“By providing 3PLs with easy-to-use and easy-to-implement software, we can help them to diversify revenue streams and maximize storage space, resources or market share that they already have,” Hagen said.
This was the case for port logistics provider TNS Logistics. When it initially entered the e-commerce space, TNS knew its single-warehouse setup and paper-based processes were not going to be able to scale up to meet the needs of new clients, or allow its own expansion to bring on more clients.
So TNS turned to CartonCloud to streamline its warehouse management processes, diversify its revenue, track inventory and capture digital orders seamlessly from anywhere in the world through software integrations.
Since partnering with CartonCloud, TNS has scaled up its operations to what is now a 5,500-pallet warehouse with global clients. For commercial manager Matthew Norton, choosing the cloud-based software built and designed for SMEs like TNS’ was a no-brainer.
“One of the things I really liked about CartonCloud was that the team had come from a warehouse background. They had seen the operational difficulties day to day and created a product that was actually able to help us,” Norton said.
Hagen added, “Our software was originally created for that exact reason — to simplify complex logistics operations, reduce overheads and turn losses to profits. When you have the right systems in place, you can really transform your operations, and our software let’s logistics businesses do that, with control and flexibility.”
He continued, “As we know, the industry relies heavily on the survival of small and medium-sized businesses, which is why it’s essential these companies can have access to software that is designed for them, to help them optimize operations, save time and money, and grow.”
CartonCloud CEO Vincent Fletcher said the company’s recent expansion from Australia to North America came off the back of a huge amount of interest and inquiries from the region, seeking affordable, easy-to-use, cloud-based logistics software with the features they needed.
Fletcher said they were excited at the prospect of helping North American SMEs scale their operations and overcome day-to-day frustrations of the industry, as they already have with more than 400 SMB logistics companies.
“We work closely with our clients and with other industry members,” Fletcher said. “It’s what sets us apart. We are logistics people too and we provide software that’s tailored specifically to their needs — even as digital trends are changing.
“Entering the massive North American logistics industry and building a team there opens up extraordinary opportunities for CartonCloud to secure new customers, build new industry partnerships and continue to improve our product for all of our global customers.”
Canada in particular was an optimal market for expansion, according to Fletcher, taking note of the plurality of smaller businesses that make up the country’s logistics industry and the day-to-day issues impacting smaller businesses, such as the current rental price hike.
“We saw there were many third-party logistics providers in Canada that were looking for software that was intuitive and easy to use yet still powerful enough to manage their operations and able to help them overcome some of the hurdles facing smaller operators today,” he added.
CartonCloud’s cloud-based warehouse management system, tailor-made for smaller businesses to improve their operations and reduce general overhead costs, does more than just combat rent prices and other operational costs.
“We’ve been there too,” he said. “We’ve worked in operations and have seen how much of an impact having certain features and functions can be. It can completely change the business and take it from loss to profits.”
Hagen said the benefits of a cloud-based system for smaller businesses were not just in the features and usability but also that the software is continually updated and enhanced, with new features being developed and released as part of their subscriptions.
“It’s not just a system to manage your operations in-house, you can also connect seamlessly with online ordering platforms like Shopify, your accounting software with automated invoicing and many other essential programs so you can quite literally manage all of your operations from one place,” he said.
For small businesses with limited resources, staff and time, this can be revolutionary.
“We’re helping businesses expand and offer new services to their customers too. This might include warehousing services, 3PL pick and pack or cross-docking — services they may not have traditionally offered — with confidence,” Hagen said.
A popular feature in the North American industry has been CartonCloud’s cross-docking functionality, which Hagen said allows providers to increase the amount of revenue that they’re generating from their real estate footprint — a major win for businesses struggling with rental price increases.
“We’ve had a lot of interest in this feature because it simplifies what can be a very complex operation, giving the team accuracy and greater oversight of incoming and outgoing inventory. It’s a huge win for operators wishing to offer this service,” he said.
“We have developed a combined WMS and TMS. This allows our users to use whichever module suits their business whilst being fully integrated for operations that conduct both warehousing and transport,” Hagen said of why the CartonCloud product suits cross-docking so well.
“Our solution is designed with the flexibility our customers need to match the fast-paced environment of cross-docking and cater for many different profiles of customers. We’ve seen our software be used in a range of operations, big and small, delivering solutions that empower our customers to offer a differentiated cross-docking service from their competitors and win more business as a result.
“We’ve decided as a business that we want to do what we do well. We’ve designed our software to be accessible and revolutionary for smaller businesses, and that’s reflected in our features, our pay for what you use subscriptions, and the support and advice we provide to our customers,” Hagen said of CartonCloud’s onboarding process.
“Our process to bring on new customers starts with a conversation with them, where we can get a better picture of their business and operations, what they want to achieve and what their current pain points are.
“We’re really straightforward. If we don’t think we are the right solution for them, we will let them know. Likewise, when the fit is right, we know our solution will help them to transform their business, and we are with them each step of the way to ensure they are set up and operational.”
CartonCloud is offering a free software demo to 3PL companies wishing to see the software in action. Fletcher said one of the key differences that sets CartonCloud apart is its dedication to its customers’ success.
To find out more about CartonCloud’s cloud-based warehouse and transport management software, visit www.cartoncloud.com