An online pallet-trading marketplace that launched today could help relieve a long-running pallet supply crisis forced by outdated, manual processes and strained by pandemic disruptions, according to its founder, the material handling and transportation provider Bettaway Supply Chain Services.
By helping shippers connect with depots, the PalletTrader site could allow thousands of pallet producers, recyclers, and distributors to streamline their business processes, South Plainfield, New Jersey-based Bettaway said in a release. In the company’s vision, its neutral online platform opens as the first collaborative e-commerce site for managing commercial pallet supply, supporting a single, efficient transaction process for sourcing, buying, and selling pallets.
In return for creating the site, Bettaway will charge subscription and transaction fees, but users will make up those costs by adopting a more efficient pallet procuring process than traditional tools like email, phone calls, or fax, Bettaway President John Vaccaro said.
“It’s much like in the trucking world where brokers and shippers use online load boards to match available trucks with freight,” Vaccaro said in a release. “We are bringing the convenience and efficiency of online commerce technology to the world of pallets. And we are providing a common set of tools and processes that can be shared by everyone to manage and optimize pallet inventory as a renewable asset, not discarded as a throw-away piece of wood.”
If successful, the new platform will tie together the networks of regional depots and distributors that have run for decades on local relationships, as opposed to the power of open online platforms like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy, Vaccaro said in an interview. “You can buy anything online, but not pallets,” Vaccaro said. “We have DAT load boards and the CASS freight index for instant reach to carriers, but for pallets there is no online system that compares to a [transportation management system].”
Vaccaro says that the business of handling the humble, $20 wooden pallet is misunderstood even within supply chain circles. Although the pallet sector is a $7 billion per year enterprise, it is usually taken for granted as a simple exchange of commodity goods, he says. But in reality, there are 40 or 50 different types of pallets spanning various custom sizes and specialized dimensions. And for every one of those types, local pallet yards offer services like selling, renting, retrieving, repairing, recycling, and storing the pallets.