Flexport, the San Francisco-based freight forwarder that endeavors to streamline trade by connecting all supply chain parties on a single digital platform, ranked 10th in the 2021 FreightTech 25. And with good reason.
The FreightTech 25 is a FreightWaves award in which 80 members of the freight community, including investors, rank the most innovative and disruptive companies in the sector.
Flexport continues to make technology investments and is letting developers tap into its ecosystem to create new applications.
The IT team has more than doubled in the past year or two with the ability to create its own software, fix bugs and issue upgrades multiple times per day.
Chief Technology Officer James Chen, a former Amazonian, is driving to make the Web-based customer experience just as satisfying for importers and exporters as it is for shoppers at top online retail sites. That means ensuring a seamless, standardized Web-based experience for any customer and transportation service provider around the world. The platform will eventually be available in 163 countries, up from about 120 in mid-2020.
A standardized view of purchase orders, advanced shipping notices and other transactions gives all parties a clear understanding of where freight is and how it’s being handled.
Flexport’s willingness to use its own resources to integrate its systems with SAP or Oracle gives customers the confidence to try its services without having to hire expensive consulting services.
“We take care of interconnectivity on behalf of our customers and carriers without adding costs to them,” Chen told FreightWaves earlier this year. “It’s about lowering barriers to entry in order to have very efficient digital communications between systems.”
The supply chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic has made Flexport’s work connecting global trade partners, cleaning data, and providing real-time multi-party views into visibility, documentation, capacity, transit times and rates more important than ever.
Chen’s team is harnessing technology with the goal of producing much more accurate estimates of transit and arrival times for ocean and airfreight — a tall task considering how many unrelated parties are involved in cross-border door-to-door moves. Using multiple data points and quality indicators makes that possible, which should allow for more transport efficiency.
The public release of the app platform could come in the second half of next year. Meanwhile, Flexport is opening up more tools and data to its freight forwarder partners, working in other countries that currently have access to less than 5% of Flexport’s functionality, greatly expanding the amount of data the platform houses.