Smart logistics solution for e-commerce merchants and couriers

September 03, 2018 17:27
Appcider co-founders and directors Ryan Chan (left) and Taurus Cheung saw a huge demand for a smart logistics system in e-commerce nd trading activities and thus developed the smart logistics gateway called ShipAny. Photo: EJ Insight

A team of tech entrepreneurs has developed a smart solution for the traditional logistics business.

Software solutions firm Appcider Limited said ShipAny is a smart logistics system that links courier services with merchants, offering real-time shipping rates quotations and delivery tracking of goods.

Appcider was established in 2015 by four co-founders including Ryan Chan and Taurus Cheung, who saw a huge demand for such a system in e-commerce and trading activities and thus developed the smart logistics gateway, ShipAny.

Graduates of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and a master’s degree in computer science and engineering, Chan and Cheung have accumulated years of IT experience before embarking on their entrepreneurial journey in 2017.

How it works

Suppose consumers try to purchase goods through online shopping. After selecting and checking out their items at an online store, consumers can pick their choice of shipping service provider, including real-time rates, through the ShipAny system.

Delivery orders will be automatically sent to the system of logistics service suppliers.

Store operators can log in to ShipAny’s Merchant Portal to manage delivery orders. They can check details of the orders and the latest delivery status of the orders.

Logistics service suppliers can also log in to LogFlow portal to dispatch delivery orders. They can then assign drivers and check details of different orders.

Once the item is delivered, the operators or the drivers can indicate in the portal a status of completion. Store operators will then be acknowledged if the goods are successfully delivered.

Merchants are charged HK$1 per order while logistics service suppliers, which offer discounted rates to ShipAny, are not charged any fee. End-consumers can also use ShipAny without any charges.

Smart contract

ShipAny uses a smart contract powered by blockchain technology, which features a shared ledger with high traceability. “The logistics service operators can reveal highly traceable records to [the merchants],” Cheung said.

Moreover, the terms and conditions of the service can be embedded in the smart contact, making them irrevocable.

An insurance function will also be added to the smart contract. Still under development, this function can automatically kick-start the processing of claims in case of any loss or delivery delay, Cheung said.

As far as Chan and Cheung know, this is the first time that an insurance function is being developed for smart contracts in the logistics business.

“Or we just haven’t been aware of [any other] smart contract development in our own specialization,” Chan added.

Smart contract is a way to boost end-consumers’ confidence and flexibility in the delivery of goods, while helping small couriers become more credible in the eyes of consumers and merchants, Chan and Cheung noted.

Merchants can choose to enable the smart contract function, or ignore it, while end-consumers can know which service providers offer a smart contract, and select their choice for delivery accordingly.

Partnership with big couriers

Around 20 to 30 merchants are currently using the ShipAny system, which processes 500 to 1,000 delivery orders a month.

Cheung hopes to boost the order number to at least 10,000 by 2019.

ShipAny partners with large logistics service providers such as UPS, FedEx, DHL, SF Express and TA-Q-BIN operated by President Transnet, along with five small to medium-scale suppliers.

ShipAny’s market is not limited to Hong Kong. For instance, a Malaysian merchant called EasyStore is also a client.

The startup has so far not raised any external funding. Cheung said the company is seeking angel funding worth US$500,000 and is also looking to expand further in Southeast Asia.

Appcider bagged a merit award and an outstanding presentation award for its ShipAny project in the CUHK Entrepreneurship Competition held as part of this year’s CUHK Entrepreneur Day in May. The firm has signed a memorandum of understanding with an investor.

Contests of this kind can help boost public awareness and recognition of ShipAny in the market, link up team members with potential investors, and facilitate interaction with other tech firms.

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ShipAny's Merchant Portal. Merchants can check the details of the order history on the portal and print shipping labels for corresponding orders. Photo: Appcider

EJ Insight writer