Cargocentric’s manifest for a simpler supply chain: A customer story
May 20, 2019
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Jason Ting is the Director of Operations at Cargocentric, an international logistics company. Their work involves the physical movement of bulk freight from country to country, including government and border-compliance.
Cargocentric is a family business, founded in South San Francisco by Jason’s father in 1981. The company started out as Great World, but was reintroduced in early 2018 as Cargocentric to help market their newly developed technology platform.
In Jason’s earlier days, he was a software developer. When he joined the company about 15 years ago, he brought his skillset with him, and tried to find inefficiencies in the company’s processes. “A lot of my day is spent on developing workflows, whether developing Cargocentric software or integrating with supply chain partners.”
What’s the big deal?
Cargocentric prides itself on its willingness to keep up with the times.
“One thing that separates us from others is how we leverage software to automate a lot of what happens with shipping cargo, such as booking airlines and vessels, tracking the location of goods, and receiving updates from government organizations.”
Cargocentric is using automation to help businesses represent their shipments while the product travels
To provide a better understanding of what Cargocentric does, Jason refers to a common analogy used to describe the industry. For him, Cargocentric is “like a travel agency, but for cargo. However, when a person travels, they are attended to by customer service agents and Customs officers. With cargo, there isn’t that kind of hand holding. It’s a longer process to streamline cargo, considering the many parties involved in the supply chain and each government’s unique regulations.”
In short, since cargo can’t speak for itself, Cargocentric is using automation to help businesses represent their shipments while the product travels. If you’ve ever sent your drunk friend home in an Uber, you understand. Having the ability to manage everything online, and track in real-time is revolutionary.
Jason claims that Cargocentric works with every kind of company. “Because we’re based in the Bay Area, we deal with a lot of hardware startups. However, most of our business is in fact based outside of the Bay Area,” claims Jason.
Cargocentric has thousands of unique customers from small, medium, and large businesses. “And we ship everything from cars, food, garments, furniture, electronics. We ship to and from more than 100 countries.”
With so many clients in so many countries, there are a ton of challenges Cargocentric has to overcome. Jason notes that everyone in the supply chain must be on board with software developments to make logistics more efficient: “From the factory to the trucking company, airlines, railroads, steamship lines, warehouses, terminals, importers, the final recipients or end user.”
Not the ball at the end of the chain
Jason believes that “the entire supply chain industry is relatively behind in terms of leveraging software. The challenge isn’t only to develop something that will automate our internal process but also to be able to connect and integrate with other players in the supply chain.”
While Jason and Cargocentric are invested in technology and its efficiencies, they also face challenges because of it. Their clients and supply chain partners aren’t always on the same page.
Jason says that despite their best efforts to automate, getting others to fully digitize is a challenge. “It’s very difficult to try to digitize everything. For example, some carriers still require physical paperwork. Most manufacturers and warehouses don’t have the ability to receive digital data.”
It’s very difficult to try to digitize everything. For example, some carriers still require physical paperwork. Most manufacturers and warehouses don’t have the ability to receive digital data.
Cargocentric, like many companies, are largely invested in the digital shift and recognize the ability to go paperless. This shift can have great benefits including organization, transparency, and of course more trees.
“Having everyone in the supply chain understand how software can eliminate certain inefficiencies is the Holy Grail in our industry. Reporting and data analytics will be much easier to generate and more accessible to companies of all sizes.”
Software that’s making a difference
Jason describes his experience with logistics and the development of software, and the fun of working in an ever-expanding space. “I feel lucky to be working in an industry that’s still in its infancy in leveraging technology.”
With his software background and the time he’s worked with Cargocentric, he’s noticed a big gap in opportunity. “At the time, the industry wasn’t ready for big changes in technology. But recently, US Customs, airlines, warehouses, trucking companies have put a lot of money into revamping their ability to connect. We’re in a very interesting and innovative time for logistics. Software is finally disrupting our industry.”
Cargocentric is using automation in many ways. They’re trying to make shipping transparent, in terms of their customs forms and supply chain communication. Even communication, Jason says, is connected to the ecosystem: “we’d rather not use email to communicate.”
Instead, Cargocentric creates an environment where all correspondence is tied to shipments, purchase orders, and products.
Cargocentric’s software also works to push and pull data into supply chain software or ERP systems
Cargocentric allows a customer to go online and place an order with a supplier. The customer can ask for a shipping quote and can upload all their products and SKUs into their system. “If they want to proceed with the shipment, they can request it in our application. They don’t need to send us an email or any documents.”
“The Cargocentric app can process shipment booking information and customs clearance without having to re-enter, print, or email.”
Suppliers can also use the web application to share their data.
Cargocentric’s software also works to push and pull data into supply chain software or ERP systems. If their clients already use ERP or Supply Chain software, Cargcoentric can push shipment and Customs data to them instead of them having to log into the site.
Jason claims the company is focused on making logistics as seamless and simple as possible. “Less emailing, less reviewing documents. That will lead to more efficiency, fewer errors, and faster processing.”
Cargocentric is invested in making their clients’ jobs easier, and that includes how they process payments.
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International leaders use digital payments
A lot of Cargocentric’s customers are importers who purchase goods from manufacturers and suppliers. “They pay us, as we are considered a vendor. And that’s where Veem helps us.”
Jason was introduced to Veem because it was being used by a customer. “I thought it was pretty interesting. I went on the Veem site and found it simple and easy to use.”
Like most business owners, Jason found he didn’t enjoy sending or receiving bank wires. “We do a lot of wire payments internationally. In our line of business, we’re rarely paid via credit card because the bulk of the fees being paid for are for freight and taxes. If a customer is paying $10,000 in taxes, they’re not going to pay with a credit card.”
Cargocentric needed a solution that was scalable to their clients’ needs, that was easy enough for anyone to use, and that was at the cutting edge of digital payments processing. They also needed a company that could offer transparency. With so many variations in currencies, taxes, and duties, they needed more than just any international payments company.
Cargocentric needed a solution that was scalable to their clients’ needs, that was easy enough for anyone to use, and that was at the cutting edge of digital payments processing.
To Jason, Veem also seemed like a company that could integrate well with their systems. “I thought they seemed like a great partner. Veem offers good transparency into the status of payments, primarily lower fees, and the ability to integrate with our software.”
When connecting with their web application, Cargocentric found Veem’s API to be easy to integrate. Jason has found that Veem’s API is “much easier to use than other APIs” they’ve worked with. “The Veem API has been simple. We get up to date statuses from Veem.”
When they started integrating the API, they found “the documentation was very easy to read. The support we received was fast. It’s worked seamlessly for us so far. No complaints, no bugs. It’s very straight forward, and provides a very simple workflow for when our clients make a payment.”
Jason sees the future of logistics developing with technology. Companies are starting to understand this opportunity and are advancing because of software developments. However, there is still a long way to go. One weak link in the chain can affect the efficiency of the entire process.
“Everyone needs to be on board. We want to be a part of that. We want to be able to make at least the shipping portion and the customs compliance as seamless as possible.”
“From something as simple as having physical documents on paper, sending faxes, typing, there’s a lot of discomfort in switching to digital methods. It’s ingrained in operators; but you just have to push it.”
Jason believes that a lot of companies resist software because it’s too big of a change. “From something as simple as having physical documents on paper, sending faxes, typing, there’s a lot of discomfort in switching to digital methods. It’s ingrained in operators; but you just have to push it.”
Jason offers a final piece of advice to logistics operators to respond to these anxieties: “Embrace change, and certainly invest in software. There will be a day when the only way to connect to supply chain partners is via software integrations. You don’t want to be left behind.”