Innovation That Matters

Shipping marketplace capitalizes on intentions

Work & Lifestyle

In a nutshell, uShip is an online marketplace for shipping and moving. Customers with something to ship post a request on the website, and service providers bid for their business. uShip certainly caters to customers who have a truckload of furniture to move, but the concept comes into its own when a customer isn’t shipping enough to fill a truck. Shipping companies tend to think in terms of full loads, making it difficult for consumers to get a quick quote for shipping an inherited pinball machine or the Eames chair they’re selling on eBay. On uShip, customers list their needs and a target price, and the bidding process keeps pricing competitive. Shipping companies benefit, too. Besides having access to an additional sales channel, they can find shipments for what would have otherwise been empty backhaul trips. Because carriers can efficiently fill extra cargo space, many offer discounts of up to 80% off their traditional prices. Listings include all relevant information: dimensions, weight, packaging, origin and destination. uShip displays a map and route information for each freight that carriers are bidding on, along with pickup and delivery timeframes. To find shipments along their route, freight companies fill in their departure and arrival zipcodes, and how many miles they’re willing to go out of their way. Listing is free for customers, and they’re under no obligation to accept a bid. uShip generates revenue by charging service providers 7.9% of each completed transaction. Over 30 thousand transportation service providers have already registered with uShip. To keep the market as transparent as possible, users are encouraged to post feedback and reviews about companies they’ve worked with. Questions between carriers and customers are published with each listing, providing additional information and saving both parties from dealing with questions that have already been answered. Tapping into a huge potential market, uShip plays nice with eBay: buyers and sellers can import information about a shipment straight from the eBay auction listing, before or after closing the transaction. uShip launched in 2004, so we’re admittedly late to the party on this one. However, we haven’t seen anything like this on other continents. Time to start up something similar, or partner with uShip to set up international versions? If you’re not into shipping, the concept can provide inspiration in a wider context. uShip capitalizes on the intention economy — buyers notify the market of their intention to buy, and sellers compete for their purchase, creating an open and more efficient marketplace. More on the intention economy in’s crowd clout briefing, which focuses on the power of aggregated intentions. Spotted by: Nikki Baird



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