Flexport and Shopify now plan to add airfreight to new shipping app


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Jan 13, 2024

Flexport and Shopify now plan to add airfreight to new shipping app

Having launched an app that allows users of the Shopify platform to book ocean

Having launched an app that allows users of the Shopify platform to book ocean shipments from China to the US through Flexport, the two are looking to add an airfreight service as they are expand.

This month, the e-commerce storefront provider and forwarder unveiled the app that allows merchants using Shopify to get instant quotes, book ocean shipments and track them, obtain customs clearancem insurance and financing.

The app is integrated into Shopify's Fulfilment Network (SFN), which allows users to link their product library and get visibility at the SKU level from factory to fulfilment centre.

To date, online sellers have used storefronts like Shopify for order fulfilment, focusing on final-mile delivery, rather than sourcing product from overseas suppliers. Flexport is the only international forwarding option on Shopify's marketplace.

The service covers shipments from overseas factory to port of entry in the US. While it includes the trucking leg from factory to port of departure, it usually does not extend to domestic US moves, although Flexport can manage the transport to US distribution centres and provide warehousing if required. According to the forwarder, the international sourcing element is the aspect where the Shopify clientele targeted with the app has the greatest need for assistance.

The focus group for the offering are small and mid-sized online merchants, which is reflected in the minimum order size of one cubic foot.

Parisa Sadrzadeh, Flexport's SVP, SMB product & technology, described the new offering as the first step in "a collaborative journey of the two companies". Last year Shopify participated in a $935m funding round for the forwarder.

"We have an ambitious roadmap ahead to make the app more feature-rich this year, as well as expand our logistics services," she said.

The immediate priority is to expand the geographical coverage of the app, which currently covers LCL and FCL shipments from China to the US. Flexport has an aggressive plan to roll out the service globally, but has given no details on the likely order of expansion, in terms of countries coming onstream or the anticipated time frame for the roll-out.

In terms of broadening logistics services, the next step is to bring airfreight into the offering, Ms Sadrzadeh said. "We believe SMBs should have the same access to the best logistics infrastructure and technology typically reserved for larger enterprise companies."

Targeting SMB shippers has become a bit of a mantra in the logistics industry over the past couple of years, as they typically do not have the muscle to obtain large discounts like big shippers.

For Shopify, the launch of the Flexport app is part of a broader move to beef up its consumer-facing badge for fast, reliable delivery. At the same time, it announced the unification of its SFN and Deliverr networks, which should allow merchants to leverage data for positioning inventory in response to demand spikes, and advanced returns functionality through its integration with Loop Returns.

The company has scrambled to refine its fulfilment capabilities, which were widely regarded as a weak spot in its set-up a year ago. Adding functionality on the product procurement side opens another avenue to compete for SMB business.