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Michael Barker

BY MICHAEL BARKER

@michaelbarker

Shaking up logistics

A new online platform is aiming to offer growers access to better-value logistics and help fill up hauliers’ free space

Shaking up logistics

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A newly launched British business is hoping to provide an alternative way for fresh produce firms to manage their refrigerated haulage quicker and more cost effectively. 

Chill-Chain is an online resource that launched last year and aims to make it quicker and easier to get quotes and book haulage, as well as adding greater transparency to shipments for growers. 

The company’s directors hope to open up the logistics market by giving hauliers the chance to compete for business and maximise the space in their lorries.

Founder and chief executive Jack Fleming describes Chill-Chain as an “open and transparent marketplace” which will promote more trade. Under the system, which can be accessed via desktop and mobile, growers enter details about the size and temperature of their shipment, time and date of delivery, and hauliers bid on the job. Once a bid is accepted the two parties can communicate with each other via the platform. Assurance is offered as users can check hauliers’ insurance levels, and Fleming says the company will mediate in any disputes. 

Chill-Chain is also free to use, with the company instead taking a percentage commission on each transaction from the haulier. 

The advantage of the system for growers is simplicity and more competitive prices, as well as the possibility of seeing exactly where their produce is at any given time, according to Fleming. 

And for hauliers, in addition to the opportunity to gain new customers, the platform means they can maximise their space. “If you can fill up those lorries there’s so much more profit,” he says, adding that it pays hauliers in just 15 days by default after proof of delivery. 

Fleming says the business has got off to a flying start and is already dealing with international as well as UK loads. “In addition to our own marketplace, we’ve been asked by customers to build versions of Chill-Chain, either for transport companies to offer their customers the chance to do business online – 21st century shop fronts if you will – or by importers to build a contract management tool that hangs off Chill-Chain. We hope the latter will also be of use to retail.”

It’s exciting times for the fledgling business, and with a large market to aim at, and ambitions to match, the biggest challenge will be persuading people to change their habits of a lifetime, and see logistics in an altogether new light.

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