The application of emerging technologies drives an organisation to achieve its full potential efficiently. However, certain barriers hinder the adoption of tech at organisational levels, even today. Speaking of logistics, we cannot deny that the industry has been reluctant to implement trending technologies. The stakeholders (freight forwarders) prefer to rely on dated tech or manual processes to drive their day-to-day business.
Sea News recently interviewed Shabsie Levy, Founder and CEO of Shifl, a New York-based software company catering to the supply chain industry, and sought his views on ‘adoption of technology in logistics’.
Excerpts from the Interview with Shabsie…
Could you share your experiences within the industry before you founded Shifl?
I worked for a large NY based freight forwarder for about 10 years. It was actually my first job. I started with the company doing basic data entry and eventually came to manage the forwarding department.
What were the challenges you saw in the industry that led you to founding Shifl?
I have always had a knack for technology and always love to ask – “WHY” and “WHY NOT” questions. The freight forwarding industry is ripe for disruption. It needs an entire overhaul. While every other industry has progressed to today’s cloud age, freight forwarding is still very outdated. I believe we won’t be solving this with minor improvements and patches – the entire industry needs to be reimagined and overhauled and that’s what we think about at Shifl every day, and thankfully, we have made incredible progress.
Please elaborate on how you bootstrapped your way from an idea to $35 million in operational revenue at Shifl?
So that’s an interesting question – our industry is attracting a lot of attention now, however, I was very adamant from the start that I wanted to be able to do this myself. This allows me to make drastic decisions that sometimes are not profit minded in order to advance our goal of bringing our industry on par with today’s technology age. I have had many offers from investors from the start-up and they continue to come in, even today. However, I feel like just throwing a bunch of money at it won’t solve the problem. To answer your question, we were able to creatively manage our cash flow. I myself had put away some money to start and took out a line of credit on my house. We also brought in our creativity by thinking out-of-the-box about how to solve this problem. For example, we are the only freight forwarder in the US that allows credit card payments without a fee. Our customers find that as a huge benefit and it allows us to turn our cash around faster and minimize risk. Even though it’s expensive, we are able to do it and still be very profitable due to the massive efficiency we accomplished with our software. We grew fast and were able to reinvest our money smartly without the need to raise outside funds. At this point, we have access to large lines of credit from traditional banks because of our solid financials and strong growth.
What were the unique challenges you had to overcome while running Shifl?
While I thought that bringing on customers will be the biggest challenge, it was actually the opposite. We have had a large influx of customers and that too, with very minimal marketing – just from word of mouth and customer recommendation. The biggest challenge we have is growing sustainably and bringing on the right talent. It’s quite challenging to hire and train quickly to sustain the growth.
What is your unique selling proposition with Shifl? How are you different from other companies in the same space?
For a start – our technology. We offer prior unbeknownst visibility and transparency – our system is integrated with customs, terminal data, carrier data, origin and destination offices, which reduces mistakes and inefficiencies. While allowing us to offer very aggressive pricing with an exceptional customer experience. Secondly, we stand out because of our fast growth, which is very encouraging and instils in us the confidence that we are solving real problems that have plagued the industry for a long time. We now have offices around the globe in the USA, China, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Georgia and growing.
How has the feedback been from your clients? What do they like about Shifl?
The best feedback we get from clients is a customer referral – and thankfully, we have had amazing success there – in organically growing from customer to customer – our customers love the technology and the streamlined flow. They appreciate the personal account manager, this is a single point of contact, who manages the entire process and is the go-to person for them with direct connection through whatsapp and instant chat. Additionally, they often come back to us to appreciate the direct connection to our overseas offices at origin, which further eliminates miscommunication and reduces response times.
Where do you envision Shifl to be over this decade? Which direction are you looking to steer the company towards?
We are continuing with the technology at full speed because with every deployment/product launch, we see the value it brings to our customers. We are launching many exciting features in the next few months, including our mobile app, which is coming up in a few weeks. We will also be launching international payments and supplier portals as well as PO and inventory modules and warehouse and ERP integrations. We are building an ecosystem for the entire supply chain, with access and integration to every partner and associated party. Customers will be able to issue and control their items and inventory from the Shifl platform and book their cargo via carrier contracts and outside companies. In short, you, as a business owner, can be busy designing and selling your products, the rest = shifl! We are beta testing this with some customers and will be expanding the testing in the near future.
Sea News Feature, May 4