A transportation technology provider is building a platform to connect retailers and third-party logistics (3PL) providers with thousands of local truckers nationwide to support the same-day deliveries of heavy goods that are ordered online.
The platform, developed by Cleveland-based Banyan Technology, will be rolled out during the first quarter of 2018, according to Lance Healy, Banyan's co-founder and chief innovation officer. In a recent phone interview, Healy said this would be the first attempt to build out a nationwide IT network linking the key players in the fast-growing heavy goods e-commerce ecosystem. Currently, connections are made with carriers through individual enterprise platforms, Healy said.
Healy said he plans to recruit between 1,500 to 2,000 local carriers, with the first 50 to 100 going live in the first quarter. Banyan will also oversee the carrier "on-boarding" process to ensure each carrier meets financial and operating requirements before being incorporated into the network, Healy said.
Smaller and established carriers will dominate the platform, and there will be few independent drivers involved, Healy said. Three of the five largest 3PLs, whom Healy wouldn't identify, are involved in the initiative. Also involved are large IT firms such as Cary, N.C.-based Mercury Gate International Inc., Stamford, Conn.-based Pitney Bowes Inc., and Australian firm WiseTech Global. All of those firms leverage software applications to power hundreds of millions of supply chain management transactions.
Healy pursued the idea after determining the heavy-goods segment was ripe for the same speed-to-market innovations consumers and businesses have grown accustomed to for the delivery of smaller e-commerce shipments that still compose the lion's share of the fulfillment business. According to data from SJ Consulting, the so-called large format category—shipments weighing more than 150 pounds as well as items whose dimensions make them nonconveyable—will grow by 9.4 percent in 2017, bringing the market size to $8.1 billion. The SJ data does not include large format items transported by parcel carriers like Memphis-based FedEx Corp. and Atlanta-based UPS Inc.
The heavy-goods e-commerce market is expected to grow dramatically in coming years as manufacturers and retailers expand the number of SKUs available for online ordering. Less-than-truckload (LTL) and even truckload carriers are expected to jump into the fray as the weight and dimensions of the goods being delivered falls within their wheelhouses. Experts have said, however, that LTL and truckload drivers will need to adjust to making deliveries directly to residences instead of warehouses and shipping docks.
One e-tailer that Banyan will steer clear of, at least for now, is Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc. The world's largest e-tailer, which has been aggressively expanding into the heavy goods arena, has way too much volume for Banyan's platform to absorb right now, according to Healy. "We're not ready for that fire hose," he said.
In addition, the platform will be used to connect stakeholders in the household goods moving and storage industry, Healy said.