The COVID-19 pandemic has dominated headlines in 2021, but another issue has become more prominent as the holiday season comes into full swing, the supply chain.
Global supply chains have been hit hard by the pandemic and have had difficulty recovering, especially in the US, as major hubs like the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach struggle with piles of empty containers and long dwell times. Along with labor and material shortages, these issues have the supply lines that US businesses and consumers rely on to a crawl.
This slowdown has been apparent throughout the year as estimated delivery times for products like furniture jumped from weeks to months. Halloween costumes began to show up in ports in December, months after their due date and the events for which they were ordered.
Companies are turning to the blooming logistics technology field for solutions to help prevent future mishaps and ensure speedy deliveries. The solutions they are investing in are aiming to replace the largely manual and paper-driven steps throughout the supply chain and range from software like digital freight matching platforms and blockchain-enabled smart contracts to hardware like warehouse robotics and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
In this article, we took a look at five of the most interesting and up-and-coming US-based startups using tech to strengthen the supply chain for 2022.
Stord was founded in 2015 by Sean Henry and Jacob Boudreau, who serve as cloud supply chain services startup’s CEO and CTO, respectively. The company’s cloud product, which integrates with a client’s existing systems, allows users to view their inventory, order orchestration logic, audited data, and analytics all in one place. This past September, Stord became a logistics tech unicorn after raising a $90 million Series D (its third funding round since December 2020), valuing the company at $1.125 billion. Stord provides more than just software. In 2021 made its big move into the physical logistics services space as in July 2021; the company also opened its first order fulfillment center, equipped with warehouse robotics and other time-saving automations. In September, Stord also acquired a network of over 400 warehouse partners and 15,000 carriers after it bought Fulfillment Works. Stord’s combination of a logistics platform and physical services allows it to position itself as a one-stop-shop partner for e-commerce merchants trying to compete with giants like Amazon.
Emerge is a digital freight marketplace founded by Andrew Leto in 2018. The Scottsdale, Arizona-based startup is a platform that allows shippers to easily connect and match with carriers to move their cargo around the country efficiently. The company raised a $130 million Series B in September 2021, building on its $20 million Series A in February 2020. Emerge launched its Dynamic Request for Proposal (DPR) platform between the two funding rounds. The DPR platform has helped clients procure over $4 billion in freight.
Mercado Labs was founded in 2018 and is automating the first mile of the import supply chain. Led by Founder & CEO Rob Garrison, Mercado Labs has created a platform to digitize and automate labor-intensive processes like vetting vendors and maintaining compliance standards. The company’s platform also streamlines the process of ordering and transporting goods throughout international supply chains, as the majority of the supply chain is still heavily reliant on legacy technology like email and Excel spreadsheets. This December, the company announced the closure of a Series A funding round led by SJF Ventures. In the startup’s announcement, the company revealed it would use its latest cash infusion to accelerate its innovation.