PandaBuy is an online logistics platform that enables users to buy items from China (cross-border shopping) through its shopping agent services. The service also includes customs clearance, shipping, warehousing, quality check, and customer service.
Nearshoring is the process of outsourcing work to a nearby country. The term is often used in relation to the business practice of outsourcing to countries with lower labor costs. Nearshoring can provide companies with a number of benefits, including lower shipping costs, reduced communication barriers, and improved quality control.
A virtual business address is an address that is used by a business for correspondence purposes, but is not a physical location. The address can be used by businesses who are not located in the city that the address is located in, or for businesses who want to maintain privacy.
Lytx is a technology company that provides fleet safety solutions for businesses using video telematics. The company’s products include video telematics, driver safety solutions, and fleet management tools.
Last mile delivery is the final stage of getting a package to its destination. It is the last leg of the delivery process and is often the most expensive and time-consuming part. This term is often used in the context of e-commerce and delivery services.
Lalamove is a Hong Kong-based company that offers on-demand transportation and logistics services. The company operates a fleet of trucks, vans, and cars that can be booked through a mobile app. Lalamove is one of the largest players in the on-demand transportation space.
TForce is a US-based logistics company and transportation provider that's focused on last mile logistics for same-day and next-day delivery services. The company helps ecommerce businesses with fast and affordable delivery of their products.
Trend Highlight – The Fascinating Rise of FreightWaves
While Freightwaves is a freight logistics software company, many in the industry know them for their strategically built media empire which targets industry workers in order to grow the Freightwaves brand, part of the driver behind their 1,800% growth in 2019 from the prior year.
For truck drivers, a particularly captive audience, an audio-only medium is the ideal way to reach them as they can't use normal workday distractions like Twitter or YouTube. Freightwaves' "What the Truck?" podcast taps into this enormous audience. Truck driving is the single most common job in the majority of US states, with 3.5 million truck drivers in total across the country.
As the brand became more widely-known because of their media play, it became easier for them to sell their logistics software into enterprises. This has helped Freightwaves begin to penetrate what is one of the world's largest industries: At 9.6 trillion dollars, the global logistics industry is downright massive and represents about 12% of the global economy, bigger than even the insurance industry and financial services industry combined.
Trend Highlight – Why Pandabuy Is So Popular
Pandabuy’s growth is one of the fastest. The site saw 4M monthly visits in September 2022, up 3300% from 120K just 5 months ago. And 3/4ths of the site traffic is direct, meaning users went straight there or have it bookmarked, a sign of strong retention.
The company combines an e-commerce front-end with logistics to help customers buy products from Taobao, the Chinese e-commerce site whose GMV is larger than the entire US e-commerce industry. First, customers request products, then Pandabuy buys them, ships them to a company warehouse, photographs them for inspection, packages them, and ships them to the US (in part to avoid US anti-counterfeiting rules, Taobao does not allow shipments directly to residential US addresses).
Pandabuy’s power users are members of Reddit communities like the 1.1M-member-strong FashionReps ("reps" is short for "replicas", and "replicas" is a euphemism for "counterfeits"). Users on the subreddit post extensive guides to finding high-quality knockoffs, as well as "haul" posts highlighting the products they bought (with prices quoted in RMB and volumes quoted in kilograms). The FashionReps community seems to view itself as the digital version of thrifting: while users want to look great without spending much money, some of the thrill comes from tracking down the first Taobao seller to offer knockoffs of a hot new product.
Trend Highlight – The Rise of the Virtual Business Address
As more and more consumers start including “near me” in their Google searches, many businesses have tried unconventional methods to rank locally.
Whenever a business lists an address in order to rank in local search results, Google mails a postcard with a code that the business must then confirm, almost like two-factor-authentication for real estate. Some businesses were able to expand their brick and mortar footprint overnight, in the eyes of Google, by buying access to virtual mailboxes and receiving photos of the verification cards when they were delivered.
Strategies like this are among many factors that are driving the growth of virtual business addresses, though it mostly comes down to several macro trends. For one, the nomadic lifestyle, along with remote work, is on the rise. Many small businesses are increasingly being started without addresses, but there are still many documents, products, and services that require an address. From company registration with the government to payouts via Stripe or YouTube, addresses are still widely essential.
Privacy and professionalism also play a big role. Small business owners who work from home say that using their home address may be seen as unprofessional and they don’t want their address listed so prominently online. Virtual business address sellers are easily able to price discriminate between those seeking privacy versus those seeking prestige: Companies in this space tend to mark up addresses like “Park Avenue” whereas those who are solely privacy-conscious don’t care for one specific address over another.
And not only is it a massive and not-fully-tapped market, but the retention characteristics are some of the strongest. While small businesses typically have low retention because of budget constraints and their high failure rate, an address is one of the stickiest assets: it's hard to remember every form that's been filled out, and it's not a safe bet that there won't be important mail—tax bills, legal documents, and other important messages are more likely to be sent by mail— so these customers tend to stick around.
Virtual mailbox providers, which also scan and digitally forward mail, charge up to $500/year. This is especially striking because these companies are not really logistics companies; they receive mail, but they don’t send it, so in principle, the business is not much more complicated than having a mailbox at a normal residence.
The opportunity is particularly ripe for ranking in search results using a longtail search keyword approach, as consumers search for terms like “virtual business address Fort Lauderdale”.
Trend Highlight – Consumers Want Realtime Updates
When Domino’s added a pizza tracker to its ordering app, it saw a spike in sales (Google and Domino’s both went public in 2004, and Domino’s stock has actually outperformed Google’s over that time period). For many customers, seeing that their order is making progress is more important than exactly when it arrives.
While some companies can build this service internally, others operate at a smaller scale where a third-party product is a better fit. Beetrack is a startup that helps e-commerce companies in South America track packages for customers, and manage delivery logistics.
The company has technology to make delivery routes faster, and in the process of building that, they built precise tracking for each package, which the seller can share with customers. This doesn’t just engender indirect customer loyalty: it cuts down on customer service calls, which reduces the cost of customer service and improves profitability. Part of marketing Beetrack to businesses is helping them to see a seemingly fixed cost, like customer service, as a variable one that can be controlled through better technology.
Customer expectations around package tracking have been rising as well as searches for “where’s my package”, and that's especially challenging for places with poor last-mile infrastructure and spotty communications.
The logistics business is strongly scale-dependent. Higher scale increases utilization and also creates more data on routes. For example, UPS studied traffic and accident patterns and discovered that it's almost always better to avoid turning through oncoming traffic so UPS trucks very rarely, if ever, turn left in dense cities. A small operator with their own fleet, or a local logistics company, can't find patterns like this, but a software provider will have a larger sample size. For countries with poor roads and less comprehensive maps, the gains from aggregating information are correspondingly higher. While faster and more reliable delivery doesn't directly produce revenue, it can indirectly reduce costs; Beetrack's customers have found that package location questions are a common customer service query, so tracking actually lets them operate with a lower headcount.
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