Industry veterans join ecommerce shipping newstart EquaShip

Momentum is continuing to build towards the launch later this year of a cheaper shipping alternative for smaller online retailers, through Seattle-based newstart EquaShip. EquaShip, formerly known as ShipSweet, is looking to take on the might of FedEx and UPS in providing small and medium-sized ecommerce sites with shipping prices up to 30% less than the competition.

By using regional carriers, led by primary carrier partner Blue Package Delivery of St Paul, Minnesota, EquaShip says small online retailers would not have to subsidise larger retailers through their shipping rates, allowing them to better compete with rivals offered bulk discounts on shipping.

This week, EquaShip confirmed that its Board of Managers will include industry veterans Shawn Childs and Rob Martinez.

Childs was one of the key figures in the establishment of Amazon’s transportation network, first as lead national account manager for the online retail giant at UPS, before joining Amazon itself as director of North American transportation managing a $500m budget to ship out 65m items from 10 fulfillment centres and more than 80 third party locations.

His involvement in EquaShip has already stirred false rumours that Amazon itself is looking to take a share of the shipping market.

Childs said his experience at Amazon and UPS had revealed the positive impact a good shipping service can have for online retailers’ sales figures.

“I’m excited to see EquaShip extend that clout to the small and medium sized online merchants who today pay two to four times more for shipping – sometimes five times more – than the mega-retailers do,” he said.

“I believe creating a more level playing field between large and small retailers will preserve more consumer choice and be better for the economy as a whole.”

Martinez

EquaShip’s other new board member is CEO of San Diego-based parcel consulting and auditing firm Shipware, and a former executive of Airborne Express, the firm bought by DHL when it entered the US domestic market in 2003.

Martinez, currently President of the Mail Systems Management Association San Diego chapter, said FedEx and UPS had been able to “dramatically” raise their shipping prices after DHL withdrew from the US domestic market in 2008.

“I’m glad to see some real competition in the marketplace again,” he said of his participation in EquaShip.

“There has long been a great chasm between the kind of shipping options that larger enterprise shippers have – like parcel consolidators, regional carriers, steeply discounted UPS and FedEx pricing, and USPS commercial rates – and the three limited and costlier options available to smaller shippers, i.e. UPS, FedEx and retail USPS.

“EquaShip is coming in at the perfect time with new options that ideally suit the cost and transit time trade-offs that are so critical to smaller shippers, especially those engaged in online commerce,” added Martinez.

EquaShip is planning to operate with both drop boxes across the US at locations such as Office Depot stores, as well as both scheduled and on-demand pick-up services. The company’s collection network will be managed by Blue Package.

Collection boxes are being distributed this summer, with hopes of EquaShip services starting in July or August, in time for the build-up to this year’s holiday season.

EquaShip said it is planning on including a real-time track-and-trace system within its services, later collection times than its rivals and no volume commitments for online retailers to make use of its services, which will offer a range of transit times for different rates.

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