Flexport unveils e-commerce tools as returned CEO aims to regain profitability

By Lisa Baertlein

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Logistics startup Flexport on Tuesday unveiled services to make it easier for small businesses to import, store and restock goods they sell on e-commerce marketplaces as its returned CEO races to regain profitability amid a broad freight downturn.

Companies ranging from Shopify to Walmart have launched their own e-commerce platforms to compete with industry leader Amazon.com. Sellers who use those marketplaces get access to more customers, but often are saddled with more work since each platform has its own set of rules.

The San Francisco company’s Revolution self-service offering and its Flexport+ subscription service aim to reduce costs and automate much of the work that small businesses do on multiple spreadsheets or via email or phone calls with freight, customs brokers and other providers.

“It’s exactly what I wanted when I was a small business,” said Flexport founder and CEO Ryan Petersen, who got his start in business importing Geely scooters from China with his older brother.

Revolution connects more than 20 Flexport services including freight services, supply chain financing, customs paperwork and product storage, fulfillment and replenishment in a single place.

Customers who also subscribe to Flexport+ for $149 per month are eligible for more attractive financing terms and have access to priority international freight shipping, the company said.

Petersen last week resumed his role as CEO, replacing former Amazon.com executive Dave Clark. Petersen credited Clark with creating the products for Flexport, but said the company lost focus on customers and expenses during his year as CEO.

Flexport released several of Clark’s hires but said Parisa Sadrzadeh, who helped build Amazon’s delivery network, remains at Flexport overseeing small business products.

Petersen also has rescinded dozens of employment offers not tied to the company’s core businesses and announced plans to sublease unused office space.

Flexport bought Shopify’s logistics business, including e-commerce fulfillment provider Deliverr, earlier this year. Shopify has a 17% stake in Flexport, according to regulatory filings.

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)