Exclusive: Echo to launch in Australia

Transport and logistics veteran John Goodwin brokers a deal to bring leading US web-based 3PL Echo to our shores

Exclusive: Echo to launch in Australia
<b>Exclusive:</b> Echo to launch in Australia

By Anna Game-Lopata | September 9, 2011

Transport and logistics veteran John Goodwin has brokered a deal to bring leading US web-based third party logistics provider (3PL) and freight booking business Echo to Australian shores.

Two years in the making, Goodwin says the deal is intended to test Echo’s remarkable technology and business model as a launching pad for the company into the European market.

Starting with three employees five years ago, Echo has grown to a business of more than 1,000 people, turning over in excess of $US500 million per annum.

In the United States, CEO Douglas Waggoner has been named in the Top 500 CEOs and the company is also on the Top 500 list in Entrepreneur Magazine. Since listing last year, Echo’s share price hasn’t dipped once.

The Echo business combines an independent automated booking and aggregation system with the provision of best of breed third party logistics and distribution services.

Customers can move anything from one small item of 50 kilos to the volumes associated with large business.

Using a web-based structure similar to Webjet or iSelect, a customer chooses from as many modes and quotes as they want, based on their required parameters of size, weight and time to destination.

Once a quote has been accepted, pick-up, optimised packing, track and trace, distribution and proof of delivery occurs automatically, driven by the company’s cloud-based software package.

Other services such as inventory management and optimisation are also available.

According to Goodwin, the benefits to transport providers include achieving critical mass, as small volumes can be grouped, and the ability to tap into a market they would not normally have.

"Smaller businesses usually have limited freight transport options and pay higher costs because providers can’t achieve full capacity with their volumes," he says.

"Customers pay us with B-pay or credit card and we pay the service providers.

"In this way, the Echo business is an independent provider of customised services able to offer its customers lower rates than they could normally get," Goodwin says.

"Assuming customers provide accurate information, Echo guarantees goods will be shipped by the chosen carrier or carriers in the stated time frame.

"Customers on the Echo database can also take advantage of any one-off specials from the carriers when they become available."

Goodwin, who has thirty years in the industry from airfreight commissions at TNT to entertainment logistics and the delivery of advice and a variety of high value projects
to the Victorian government, is no stranger to the problem of wasted capacity.

To top it all off, he couldn’t find a single service provider that would make the two-hour journey between Melbourne and Ballarat to deliver his niece a washing machine.

"I thought: if I’m having these problems and I’m supposed to be an expert in transport and logistics how will the average person go?" Goodwin quips.

"If you only have a small load, such as a person in the e-Bay market your only option is Australia Post, which isn’t good for everything."

Australian customers wishing to access the Echo business can select from some 26,000 transport providers on the American website ranging from mum and dad operations to the big-boys such as Toll, FedEx and UPS.

With Echo software for Australian conditions still in development, Goodwin says he hopes to launch the local website and business early next year.

In the next three months, Goodwin will put the Echo online system and intermodal capability in Australia to the test for interstate and international students transferring luggage at the end of term.

"Once we have established the Australian website and bedded down the midsized market, the second stage will be to start offering a total transport solution to larger organisations," he says.

Transport providers interested in signing on the Australian system can contact John Goodwin on 0407009900.

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