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Here’s what you should know today.

1. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is the world’s second richest person

Jeff Bezos added $1.5 billion to his fortune as Amazon.com Inc. rose $18.32 on Wednesday, the day after the acquisition of middle eastern retailer Souq.com.

Amazon’s founder has added $10.2 billion this year to his wealth and $7 billion since the global equities rally began following the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president.

Bezos remains $10.4 billion behind Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, the world’s richest person with $86 billion.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Freightos, an Expedia for the shipping industry raises $25m

Freightos, a Hong Kong-headquartered startup that lets people compare prices and book shipping services, has raised a $25 million funding round led by GE Ventures, the venture capital arm of General Electric.

Freightos’ main product is AcceleRate, a subscription software for carriers and freight forwarders to automate calculating and managing shipping rates. The price comparison feature is a new addition to the platform.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Indonesia’s Go-Jek launches new feature to book Blue Bird taxi

Indonesian ride-hailing startup Go-Jek and taxi company Blue Bird today launched Go-BlueBird, a special feature to book Blue Bird taxis via the Go-Jek app. Under the Go-BlueBird feature, users will be able to pay for taxi fare using the Go-Jek’s cashless payment service Go-Pay. The new partnership establishes Go-Jek as an “industry enabler”.

The new product is launched as Go-Jek, with other ride-hailing startups Grab and Uber, battles an upcoming revision of the land transportation regulation.

Read the rest of the story here

The global shipping industry is going through a tough time. Overcapacity and the lowest recorded freight and cargo rates are causing logistics companies to salvage the situation by diversifying their clientele, namely to serve more online players.

Alibaba is taking advantage of this opportunity and creating a solution for these companies through its OneTouch import and export service, offered by a company Alibaba acquired seven years ago. Chinese suppliers no longer need to go through freight forwarders and can directly book spots on a container ship directly via the internet through OneTouch.

The platform is a sign of growing harmony between logistics companies and ecommerce.

OneTouch has already helped over 20,000 merchants – SMEs and Alibaba’s B2B marketplace sellers – explore cross-border opportunities with China and handles the customs clearance and logistics.

Shipping companies happy to jump onboard

OneTouch was put into the spotlight after signing three big names in shipping; Maersk, CMA CGM and Zim.

“This gritty industry has taken the background role in the past but now has the potential to affect the way every product is sourced, bought and delivered,” comments Dr. Zvi Schreiber, CEO and founder of Freightos.

“Building on a massive 80% ecommerce market share in China, Alibaba’s new partnership with Maersk – which controls 25% of all container ships globally – means Chinese manufacturers and retailers have a direct line to US buyers, avoiding middleman markups. Maersk is testing the waters of digital sales with one of the world’s largest ecommerce companies while threatening forwarder business.”

Whatever you do, I do?

Alibaba’s OneTouch is similar to Beijing Century Joyo Courier Service, Amazon.com’s ocean freight service for Chinese “Fulfillment by Amazon” vendors, who market directly to foreign consumers by staging their goods at Amazon warehouses abroad.

“If you are a Chinese supplier, Amazon FBA lets you “slap a brand on your product, work with a logistics company, list your goods on Amazon, and now all of the sudden you cut out three layers of supply chain and you’re able to get directly to customers,” said Scott Galit, CEO of payment processing firm Payoneer, speaking to USA Today.

A big difference between the two is that OneTouch allows exporters to send their containers to the destination of the customer’s choice.

Why is Alibaba doing this?

Panjiva, an online search engine with information on global suppliers and manufacturers, detailed in research that the market opportunity for partnerships with OneTouch is significant.

Data shows that from China-to-US, less-than-container load (LCL) shipments in 2016 totaled to 699,000. LCL refers to when a shipper does not have enough goods to fill into a container, they would arrange for a consolidator to book their cargo.

Xiao Feng, Vice General Manager of OneTouch comments,

“Our goal is to help small and midsized companies export as easily as big companies do.”

“Alibaba unites small businesses online to increase their bargaining power with suppliers. For example, there’s a big difference in the price paid by a company that often ships 100 containers of products compared with a company that usually only ships one container.”

But it’s probably Dr. Zvi Schreiber who puts it best.

“For Alibaba, this is a direct challenge to global retailers like Amazon. Beyond drones and futuristic supermarkets, Amazon opted to get licensed as a forwarder (NVOCC). Alibaba one-upped them by going directly to the world’s largest ocean liner. Point, Alibaba.”

Interested in Alibaba’s plan to dominate logistics? Read about Cainiao Network here.

Logistics technology company Freightos has launched an online marketplace covering US imports from China by air and ocean, reports JOC.

The online marketplace will instantly compare freight services from multiple logistics providers, taking into account global pricing, booking and management of freight online while limiting overpaying and an often lengthy wait for freight quotes.

Booking flights online is often used as an analogy between the slow pace at which the logistics industry has embraced technological advances and the rapid rise of platforms such as Expedia, Travelocity etc. Booking a flight has been electronic for 50 years, but the cargo on airplanes, trucks, and ships is still booked manually.

Growing global trade, ecommerce B2B sales, and sprawling dynamic supply chains demand the transparency and efficiency of online freight.

With small-and medium-sized enterprises making up 97% of US importers, the lengthy waiting periods and inflated prices significantly limits potential for growth especially seeing the logistics industry is the backbone of global trade. At $4 trillion it accounts for about 10% of the world’s GDP but this foundation of the international economy is slow, opaque, and offline.

Logistics technology investments in supply chain software have grown by 150% from $150 million in 2014 to $378 million in 2015.

Not all the diverse players in the sector will survive, but there is plenty of business to go around if they do. China-US trade data shows there is a vast platform of opportunity for companies offering the right value proposition.

A version of this appeared in JOC on July  26. Read the full version here.