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WarehouseBook: Creating a new market by offering an unused warehouse space to cargo drivers on the go

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - WarehouseBook (WarehouseBook: Creating a new market by offering an unused warehouse space to cargo drivers on the go)

Reporting period: 2019-08-01 to 2020-01-31

EU Transport policies see efficient transport services and infrastructure as vital to exploiting the socioeconomic strengths of all regions of the European Union, to supporting the internal market and growth, and enabling economic and social cohesion. Innovations, Environmental improvements, Market integration of road transport; Clean, competitive and connected mobility, and nonetheless Digital mobility solutions are key priorities of Transport in the EU recommendations.But the logistics sector is not optimized and is marketing-deficient. Operators have troubles in finding a warehouse in urgent situations. Road hauliers experience delays, which increases costs. Warehouse service providers are nowhere near of making the most of their capacities.

Pain-points for cargo companies:
A. Stress in delays: In 90%, cargo is being delivered via a route plan, where one truck carries goods for multiple recipients along one route. In case of delays, the cargo isn’t delivered late (after the business hours) just for one recipient, but for the whole chain.
B. Long and costly manual organization: Road freight planners today spend hours and hours finding a warehouse that suits them (eg., with freezing capacities, approved for storing dangerous goods, with special equipment, etc.), then it can take days for the owner to arrange its warehouse for a hire. Such process is now done via emails and mobile phones.
Pain points for warehouse operators:
C. Limited revenue: Warehouses and storage facilities are almost never fully occupied, with their owners lacking channels to fully exploit their storage space for making more money.
D. Obsolete administration: The storage and warehouse sector is mostly not digitized. Warehouse service providers are largely lacking digital and IT literacy, which result in zero warehouse marketing, no true CRM, and almost inexistent digital support for calculations of stocks and dispatches.

The overall innovation objective is to develop and offer Europe-wide logistics platform connecting warehouse capacities to transport planners and drivers. It would allow warehouse providers to list their capacities, and transport companies to rent them, and include all administrative (=paperwork, shipment tracking, customs and taxing reports, etc.) services along.
Our activities focused on progress in platform development and on identifying different importance level of considerations related to commercialization.
1. Technology conclusions
A. Platform development progress: Key outcomes:
• Survey of potential users, feedbacks and answers helped us to set the platform wireframe for measurement user journey and usage
• User journey: critical points of different actions of different user types on the platform
• UX A/B tests and experiments: measurements in Mailchimp, usage tests, problem-point level definition.
• Design a verification profess to onboard warehouse providers on the platform

B. Technological conclusions: Technology architecture is based on the most advanced methods:
• Java, Ruby on Rails, JavaScript (react), Kotlin, Swift, PostgreSQL
• Front-end: State-of-the-art application technologies: Vue.js React,js, responsive HTML
• Back-end: Web API server state-of-the-art: Java Dropwizard, Node.js + Express
• Notifications and personal recommendations
• Services: multi-warehouse storage on more locations, declarations and commissions (future feature), organization of last-mile transports from sender to warehouse, and from warehouse to recipient, long-distance transfer organization

2. Commercialization research conclusions and key outcomes:
• We used our dedicated coach to define legal aspects of platform functioning, risks, competence and applied law, and similar regulative issues. We also hired a VAT expert to develop a basic understanding of how different VAT rates based on digital and internet business work, and how different reports and obligations of us and our clients to national authorities could work in each country.
• We set up a contact with Ministry for Infrastructure in Slovenia to receive a formal response about transport documentations and mandatory paperwork. While this is a familiarity to us in a physical logistics business, it is a different beast if doing it on the internet, especially if all documentation is digital.
• We contacted embassies and performed a basic market screening tests rekated to making business in target countries, and how elligibility/credibility/authencity of a business entity can be chacked
• We performed a test of market interest to sign to a platform like ours, and connected feedbacks to their locations. The result is a map of expressed interest (see below)
• We performed initial market research, to obtain initial information about transit hubs, most frequently used warehouses, demand and size estimate, trademark protection, and also potential marketing (FB, AdWords, local influencers, rest-areas, etc..) and commercialization partners (GPS, tracking and communication systems used by transport companies).
Prevalent state-of-the-art approach: Being the logistics industry insider, IDL company couldn’t find similar platform on the market. Most logistics players build contacts of warehouse providers and transport companies, or simply uses internet search to find them when needed. The whole process of cargo transport management between these two parties needs to be done manually, by calling or emailing the warehouse provider and organizing the transfer to that location. This is almost impossible in case of delay, when the driver cannot deliver the cargo directly to recipient, and can either spend the night somewhere risking further delays to next recipients along the route, or continues along the route risking complaints, penalties and reduced credibility. In most severe cases, the sender can sue the transport company for business reputation damage.

WarehouseBook is way above those approaches, as it is designed directly from the market need. The concept is very similar to but instead of booking accommodation, users book warehouses. Functionality, smart functions, convenience, notifications, and streamlined administration of the process is done within the platform. This enables quick and easy solution to road hauliers and freight planners when delays occur, and plan B needs to be executed for delivering the cargo to not cause the domino effect and jeopardize the whole route plan. The platform also enables warehouses to market themselves, perform administration, and receive smart suggestions about what their peers are doing, convenient for off-season time-period.
Its other USPs, effectively rising standards and comparable state-of-the-art even higher, are: (i) block-chain-based smart contracts for automation of payments and multi-location cargo storage, (ii) AI-based recommendations and suggestions for warehouse providers, (iii) platform-enabled administration, CRM and billing, (iv) partial or multiple warehouse renting, (v) personalization and digitization of logistics process.