Companies like FedEx, UPS and Amazon have greatly streamlined small parcel shipping and delivery, but for large, fragile or complex goods (like fine art, vehicles, heavy equipment, etc.) the supply chain is far from efficient. Shipping non-conveyable goods (particularly overseas) usually involves coordinating the efforts of multiple specialty logistics companies.
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New York-based ARTA has created a logistics platform for non-conveyable goods, and recently announced it has fulfilled shipments of nearly 30,000 items in 50 countries to date. ARTA has created a network of specialty logistics companies, and provides a simplified front end so that shippers can quickly get quotes and arrange shipment from a single interface. The company currently specializes in luxury items like fine art and antiques, but is expanding its reach into other markets. ARTA CEO Adam Fields spoke to us about some of the challenges in shipping these type of items.
Q. What is the gap in the logistics market that ARTA fills?
A. There’s not a good solution for items that you can’t ship via FedEx. Non-conveyable goods need specialty providers in the first, middle and last mile, but there aren’t end-to-end suppliers for that. We’re trying to fill the void and serve as the FedEx alternative for items that can’t be shipped using FedEx.
We’ve built a technology platform and built a supply chain network with first mile providers, freight forwarders, airlines, and sea freight, combined with last-mile providers that can go to the customer location, deliver, install the item, and take away the packaging. It’s a high-end, white-glove experience you can’t get with other providers.
This allows businesses that previously were struggling with some of the cost to manage logistics, or that weren’t able to see a product online because they couldn’t work out the shipping. This opens up new sales and revenue opportunities for those companies.
Q. Can you tell me about the supply chain network you’ve established?
A. Before ARTA, companies had to go to each vendor along the supply chain to get a quote, or deal with a broker, which is expensive. We have suppliers submit bids and that allows us to construct our own supply chain. We deal with the first-mile provider, we handle freight forwarding, airfreight, and the last-mile providers. That removes the cost, time and inefficiencies from the process.
This was an industry that was fully pen and paper. We’ve put up a simple front-end tool that allows sellers to request and receive quotes. Because of all the data we’ve been able to gather, we have added a feature called ARTA Instant Quote that enables buyers and sellers to immediately receive quotes through a shipping calculator. We’ve taken a process that was nine days and cut it down to four minutes.
Q. Where do you see some of the biggest logistics industry pain points that still need to be addressed?
A. Logistics is an industry where you almost have to still go from the Stone Age to the Iron Age before you can move to the current technical capabilities of the world today.
Paperwork in logistics is still physical paperwork, so you have to find ways to digitize some of that. Tracking is something we’re working on in the non-conveyable supply chain. You can’t instantly know where something is along the process. If something is on an airplane it’s trackable, but you can’t get visibility of things on the road or in between points in the supply chain.
FedEx and UPS have taken control over their entire supply chain, so they can provide that type of trackability. In the non-conveyable space, there’s not a lot of communication within the different parts of the supply chain. If we can add some standardization and take control over that function, then we could provide the same visibility that people have come to expect with other carriers.
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