White-Glove Logistics and the Future of E-Commerce
The Future of Supply Chain, Episode 29
September 21, 2019
Our latest episode of the Future of Supply Chain Podcast features Co-Founder and CEO of Arta Shipping, Adam Fields. Santosh and Adam spent time talking about the limitations of traditional parcel handlers, white-glove logistics, and the future of e-commerce.
Arta is a New York-based white glove logistics service that serves clients like auction houses, retailers, art dealers, and medical supply vendors who are unable to ship their products via traditional package carriers like FedEx and UPS.
The logistical challenges of shipping high-end products
The shipping process for items like furniture, fine art, jewelry, collectibles, and even medical equipment can be complicated and non-linear. Arta’s mission is to streamline the shipping process for these types of items.
“Consumers and businesses underestimate the power of parcel shippers like FedEx, UPS, and even the United States Postal Service--what they’ve built and how amazing they are,” Adam says. “But there’s a lack of education about how far you can push those providers to service your needs.”
The problem is, traditional parcel services only focus on items that can be easily boxed and shipped--items that don’t require special handling or additional steps in the journey from point A to point B. Buyers and sellers who want to ship high-end items often have to take multiple steps to align the logistics of getting their item from the seller to the buyer.
“People have to reach out to the provider and ask the proper questions,” he says. “There’s a lot of detailed back-and-forth. What’s the location? Is it easy access? Do you need a lift gate? Is it packed? It’s a pretty long checklist.”
Adam says it takes time for providers to put together a quote, and even then, many providers don’t offer the full spectrum of services along the supply chain. This leaves consumers scrambling to hire multiple service providers to ship their fragile or specialized items.
“It’s a highly fragmented process,” he says.
Streamlining white glove logistics for vendors and buyers
Arta’s technology platform matches buyers and sellers with high-quality vendors that cover every logistical step of the shipping process from origin to final destination.
According to Adam, those services can include packing, inside pickup and delivery, delivery scheduling, insuring the shipment, condition reports and more. Arta has recently begun utilizing predictive technology that anticipates product dimensions and types of packaging required.
Arta’s new API, which they recently launched, lets sellers access multiple services at the premium, select, and personal levels--then select custom add-on services.
“It really allowed online sellers to have an off-the-shelf product similar to what FedEx or UPS offers for personal sellers, for items you cannot use those services for,” Adam says. “Our customer base is changing from brick-and-mortar sellers to online sellers and marketplaces.”
Ultimately, Adam says parcel shippers don’t service buyers’ and sellers’ forward-thinking trends. There are a plethora of items being bought and sold online today that have unpredictable shipping fees. The struggle to price shipping leads to a struggle to sell online.
“You can’t really offer free shipping if you don’t know what it’s going to cost to ship before you buy it, which leads to the inability to have a reverse-logistics or returns solution,” he says.
Arta’s goal is to make it easier for vendors to sell their high-end goods online, and for buyers to purchase them.
“We view ourselves less as purely a logistics company, and more as a commerce enablement company,” Adam says. “We think that generally, we’re enabling commerce for a segment of items and goods that are struggling both online and offline today. We see ourselves as being the catalyst for this next generation of e-commerce. Ultimately, it comes down to enabling commerce outside of everyday items and allowing anyone to be a buyer and a seller on a global basis through the power of white glove logistics.”
To listen to the full episode, click here.
Image Source: Arta