Unboxing Logistics: An EasyPost Podcast

Shipping Cargo Via Passenger Plane With Chris Grey & Ed Burek From SmartKargo - Ep. 03

August 16, 2023 | 39:38

In This Episode

When it comes to choosing a carrier, many ecommerce businesses stick with one of the big names: USPS, FedEx, UPS, or DHL. But could there be a better way? In this episode of Unboxing Logistics, Lori sits down with Chris Grey and Ed Burek from SmartKargo to talk about the benefits of exploring alternative shipping options.

The rising popularity of alternative carriers

Ed explains that between 2021 and 2022, the largest carriers’ shipping volumes were down 3 to 4%. On the other hand, alternative carriers were up 25%. Why the rising popularity? Ed believes that using alternative carriers along with the “big four” provides a significant strategic advantage.

Sharing space on passenger planes

Chris and Ed recommend SmartKargo’s unique shipping solution, which utilizes empty space in the baggage area of passenger plans. By filling that extra space with packages, businesses can ship packages reliably and affordably. 

With thousands of flights a day, shipments can travel anywhere in the continental United States. As an added bonus, air cargo shipping is sustainable. As Ed puts it, “The plane's going to fly no matter what, so now you're loading it up” and making use of the extra space without creating more carbon emissions.

Fear of alternative shipping methods

People who hesitate to try alternative shipping methods think it’s a big risk—and they don’t want to be the first ones to test the waters.

But Chris advises, “Don't be scared. People are already doing this and seeing advantages. If you're not doing it, you're missing the boat. And someone else is going to recommend it to the CEO or the COO, or your competitor's going to do it and steal your market share.” 



Lori Boyer 00:00 

Welcome back everyone to Unboxing Logistics. This is the vodcast from Easy Post. I'm Lori Boyer, I'm your host, and on our show, we like to dive into everything that's going on in the industry, kind of get the latest updates and trends. And today's topic that I'm really excited about is all around unique carriers.

So before I was even in the shipping industry, I was unaware of all of the complexities that go on and how many cool options there are in terms of carriers. I think I always just thought of the regulars, you know, USPS, FedEx, UPS, DHL, all, all of the just normal carriers. But today we're gonna actually talk a little bit more about alternatives, unique options that are out there.

And because this was our topic, I couldn't think of anyone better to have on than a couple of my friends over at SmartKargo. They are an alternative carrier. And they'll tell us a little bit about what they offer, but we're also gonna talk about just sort of all the different options out there in the industry.

So I have Ed Burek and Chris Gray. Welcome you guys. I'm really, really excited to have you on today, but let's go ahead and start. I want, Chris, will you introduce yourself first, and then Ed, you can take over. Tell us a little bit about your background and we'll take it from there. 

Chris Grey 01:23 

Sure. And Lori, thank you for having us.

It's a pleasure to be here. Chris Gray, vice president of business development and sales over here at SmartKargo. Been here almost two years now. Fantastic ride. Prior to this position, I spent 18, 19 years at UPS. Did some time in operations. Most of that was business development. Learned a lot of great stuff.

I did my time there, was looking for the next innovation, the, the, the right place to be, and found my home here. So again, thanks for having us. 

Lori Boyer 01:57 

I love it. I think it's so cool how you've done both the really traditional carrier experience and you know, now you're on a little bit of this fun, exciting trip.

That's awesome. Welcome Chris. Ed, tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Ed Burek 02:10 

Sure. I've been here about three years and the reason why I came is candidly, I'm actually from the ecommerce side, AI personalization. From that side, it was always, eh, somebody will get it to the customer after we sell it, and we'll worry about it then.

By being here three years is exactly what you said around that complexity, and I was just absolutely fascinated by what they were doing here, because I do think it's a different way to look at how to get stuff into people's hands. Fast and efficient and you know, that's what kind of drove, drove me to get here.

It's really exciting. 

Lori Boyer 02:41 

I love that Ed. I think that especially ecommerce, if you guys are ecommerce out there we tend to get kind of pigeonholed into just one way of thinking and so that's really cool that you come from the ecommerce perspective. So we're gonna have an awesome discussion later, but first I want to know a little bit more.

So I am going to do just a this and that game. I'm gonna list one or the other. Both of you can just go ahead and answer and we'll kind of compare and see how similar you are, how different you are, and we have a couple of little kind of shipping predictions at the end as well that I always like to get.

So that'll be fun. Okay, we're just gonna start easy. Are you a person who prefers breakfast or dinner? 

Chris Grey 03:24 


Ed Burek 03:25 


Lori Boyer 03:26 

Okay. Ed's our breakfast guy. I had to admit that I skip breakfast about half the time. I get so busy. So Ed, when you have breakfast, I mean, are you piling on the eggs, bacon? What, what you doing?

Ed Burek 03:36 

As I got, I've gotten older, less bacon, but still with the eggs, fruit, vegetables. Yeah. I, I just like, but I always liked breakfast. If I, when I was a kid, if I had breakfast for dinner, that was a home run. 

Lori Boyer 03:48 

I had, my son once asked on his birthday if, for his birthday dinner we could all sit around and have cereal.

So he, he's in your camp. I was like, okay, I guess. Here we go. Fruits or veggies? 

Ed Burek 03:59 

Veggies. Used to be fruits.

Chris Grey 04:02 


Lori Boyer 04:03 

Veggies, on the same page. Wine or beer? 

Chris Grey 04:07 


Ed Burek 04:09 


Lori Boyer 04:10 

Beer. Spicy or mild? 

Chris Grey 04:14 

Hot as you get it. 

Lori Boyer 04:16 

Hot as you can get it, Chris. Nice. Ed?

Ed Burek 04:19 

I'm the complete opposite. I'm horrible. Spicy. Mild like, like when I go to places, I literally say, is it hot?

And when they say, yeah, I'm like, okay, I don't want it. Or when they say, oh, it's not hot at all, I'm like, yeah, cut that in half. I'm still not. 

Lori Boyer 04:33 

Oh, love it. 

Chris Grey 04:35 

I got to go visit one of our offices in India. I walked away with one of the, one of my claims to fame in India is Chris will eat anything no matter how hot it is.

Even if we tell him not to, he will eat it. 

Lori Boyer 04:47 


Chris Grey 04:48 

And I made a bag... 

Lori Boyer 04:49 

That is amazing. That is amazing. Your fame has probably gone wide in, in India. They're like, are you the Chris Grey? The guy who eats anything? I love it. 

Chris Grey 04:58 

Like it's one of those comedy eating shows, feed the guy anything and see if he survives. 

Lori Boyer 05:03 

Okay. What do you think is scarier? I have this debate with my husband all the time, don't ask me why. Go into space or going to the bottom of the ocean? 

Chris Grey 05:11

They both sound real fun. 

Lori Boyer 05:12 

Oh, that's it. You're the risk taker, huh? 

Chris Grey 05:16 

Look, try 'em out. Yeah. Eat anything, right? 

Lori Boyer 05:19 

Oh man. I am a, I will go to the bottom of the ocean any day. I think that sounds super cool, but space like totally freaks me out.

Ed Burek 05:26 

I never want to drown. That's, that's like my biggest fear. 

Lori Boyer 05:29 

Okay. Okay. Ed will be up in space then. Last one. Big city or country? 

Chris Grey 05:35 

Big city. 

Ed Burek 05:37 

Big city. 

Lori Boyer 05:38 

Big city. Me too. Okay, so I have a couple of questions on predictions. What do you think will happen in the industry? Obviously this is just you looking at your crystal ball.

We have no idea what really will happen. Do you think we'll see in the future more expansion of our sea routes with carriers or air? 

Chris Grey 05:59 

I think air is stopped. I think sea is picking back up. Ecommerce is down, covid, you know, there'll be continued increases in investment, but I think it's gonna be ocean. 

Lori Boyer 06:11 

Okay, Chris says, ocean. What do you think, Ed? Do you agree? 

Ed Burek 06:14 

I think it's gonna be more air. I think you see the amount of airplanes that are being bought. I think you see the sustainability factor being brought in. I think you're gonna see more airplanes going around that, especially as I think the expectations of consumers wanting things faster and wanting them, you know, at their doorstep like that. I think... 

Lori Boyer 06:33 

You think you're seeing air. Okay. I, I, I think you're probably like a lot of the industry. We don't know for sure, but I think both of you have great valid points. Okay. Final, final, final one. Do you think we'll see, do you predict that we'll see more of an investment in upgrading our infrastructure or an upgrading technology?

Chris Grey 06:52 

I'm gonna say tech, it's, it's less expensive, right? Everyone's trying to do more with less. Technology's the way to do it. 

Lori Boyer 07:03 

Okay. What do you think, Ed? 

Ed Burek 07:05 

I think if you invest in tech, they, they, they never don't show up on a Monday 'cause they wanted to take an extra day on the weekend. 

Lori Boyer 07:12 

Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Yeah. I, I am with you. I think I agree as well and you can get a quick ROI on tech and so, okay. Awesome. Well, we are gonna jump right into our topic. So, traditionally in the industry, I've seen ecommerce companies especially tend to kind of find a carrier and maybe it's one carrier only even, and they'll stick with their carrier.

It's usually one of the big four. Of course, that's normal. Why do you guys think this is? Do you think that we're gonna be seeing any shifts in terms of people starting to branch out a little bit? What I, what I guess are some of the key trends that you've seen in the shipping industry when it comes to carriers and their carrier mix? And let's, I'm gonna throw it to Ed first.

Ed Burek 07:57 

Sure. I think like, I think the whole point of what we call alternative carriers, right, those that aren't those big four that you're talking about, right? If you're, that are still getting that stuff to the customer's front door, coming from the ecommerce area, it's exactly where ecommerce was from what I can see when it first started, when I first started, there were four big players in ecommerceOracle, SAP IBM.

Right? And there was maybe one other that, that you could talk about. I think with technology changing, with things happening, I think what you're gonna see are more people trying to use alternative carriers. And I think the reason for that is people get tired of the same four, you know, and I, and Chris has always, he's educated me on this because he comes outta the, the, the UPS space.

They get tired of the big four and it's easier to connect now with technology. I think people are upgrading their, their, their technology and a lot of people have, you know, regional carriers have great service. And how do you connect those things is to have great technology. What used to be called the API, you know, economy is now filtered down, I think, into this logistics infrastructure and in this ecosystem that we now have.

Lori Boyer 09:07 

What do you think Chris, are like, the hesitations for people? Why, why do they, so if they're, if they're not, haven't been switching, why? What are the fears? 

Chris Grey 09:17 

Well, the first is just fear, right? I, we've always done it this way. I can't wrap my head around different way to do it. It's always time. 

Lori Boyer 09:25 

Do you feel like resistance to change is like common in this industry?

Chris Grey 09:29 

Yes, because there have never been opportunities to change. Change hasn't been an option. Brett Smith started FedEx in the eighties and post office, right? So you never had options. So no one's had to consider change. And now it's here and there's certain personas that are open-minded to it. But in general, "I can't wrap my head around a way to do it differently and I'm afraid of the risk if, if we do, because I don't wanna be the first one to try it." But a lot of people just don't realize a lot of the smart people have been doing it for a couple years now. 

Lori Boyer 10:12 

What are, I guess, so we have, when we talk about carriers, there's the big carriers, there are also regional carriers, that's a little bit of an alternative option.

Smaller carriers that are just in a certain area, but then there are also unique types of carriers, and that would be sort of what you guys do. But can you share maybe some of the different types of unique carrier options methods that are out there? 

Chris Grey 10:36 

Yeah, so you have, depending on industry, right, you have a lot of cold chain that's been around for a while.

It's very niche. You have the regional players who we partner with to build out our alternative network. You have couriers, right? You have freight forwarders trying to put puzzle pieces together. There really hasn't been a national, the closest, LaserShip and the, the other company they bought is probably the closest and they're national at this point because they teamed up.

But that's kind of... A little, a couple little small ones, a couple in geographical areas, but nothing that's been comprehensive enough to be all-inclusive.

Lori Boyer 11:19 

So it's often kind of niche sort of feel of where people are using it. I had a guest that I was speaking to recently who mentioned drones, drone delivery.

Ed Burek 11:30 

Yeah, I think, I think with drones, what's interesting is I think it is viable, but I think it's more viable in those, in the Midwest, right? Where it's really open, where maybe you have, you know, and Chris and I have talked about this, where someone drives out midway between three farms or ranches and they get a drone from there, you know, because it's still faster than whatever it would be during that.

So I think you have drones, and then I think that, you know, the underlying technology that kind of comes into this you know, people have assets, but the technology also makes things faster. You now have AI, right? 

The AI you're gonna use in, in everything. Now everyone's gonna put AI in every sales pitch for everything that they're gonna do because it's hot.

But the reality is, you know, we're, you know, someone like us is already using AI for route optimization, for customer support, right? For all those other things. It's been in the industry. But not pervasive. And I think that's what you're starting to see as well. 

Lori Boyer 12:25 

Mm-hmm. So taking advantage of kind of these advances in technology, I just say I really want to get a package by drone.

So I, I think I need to move to the Midwest then. 

Ed Burek 12:36

I think everybody does. But like, you know, if you're, if, if we like to live in cities, that's really gonna, because you, you, you know, there's gonna be some sort of gang that's gonna go after the drones while they're in the air. You like, you know, that's what's gonna happen.

Lori Boyer 12:49 

So true. So true. And we all three just voted that we like city living, so I probably had to live without the drone, but that just seems super cool. So explain a little bit about, so I know that what you guys do is cargo sharing on commercial flights. That's another alternative. Explain what is cargo sharing on an alternative flight?

Ed Burek 13:07

The way I would describe it to people that aren't in the industry, and when I talk to ecommerce people is it's really Uber for your ecommerce package. Okay. In other words, the plane is going there, it's going to whatever, from one city to another. It's already going there. All we're doing is we're putting ecommerce packages on passenger planes in the baggage area. 

And the reason why there's space in the baggage area is, think about it, Lori, when you take a trip, do you pay the 40 bucks to check your bag or do you, or do you put it above your seat right when, when like everyone else does, right? Unless you're taking a long trip, you're not doing that.

So all this space is available. It's now sustainable because the, the plane's gonna fly no matter what. So now you're loading it up and that's what's really unique. And for, our partner has over 2,500 flights a day, which means they can go anywhere in the continental United States. And because of what we do, we can get anything in anywhere in two days.

Lori Boyer 14:01 

Yeah, that's really cool. So what I'm understanding is that you look at, you know, space on commercial flights where they have room and then you can connect shippers, ecommerce companies, whoever, to get their, their goods on the flight. So it's always gonna be flight, obviously. So it's two- day quick kind of shipping.

Right. Is that right? 

Ed Burek 14:24 

Exactly. And then what it is, is we, we get it there because we have guaranteed allotments, right? We're not a 3PL so we're not buying space. This is with the airlines. Unique. And then we use our regional partners to deliver once it gets to whatever city it is, from whatever city we're, we're, we're shipping from. 

Lori Boyer 14:42 

What, what would happen?

Walk me through the steps. What would, what would it look like? Somebody comes to, my warehouse, picks stuff up. Do I take it to the airport? What? What's happening? 

Chris Grey 14:52 

Fundamentally think of the journey as being no different than the other two or three carriers, right? The big guys. So we'll coordinate.

Hey Lori, what kind of volume do you have? What time do you need your pickup? You know, I kind of know where your stuff's going 'cause we've already had that conversation. My guy shows up at five o'clock, load up his truck. Take it somewhere for sortation. Put it on the right partner flight. It flies really quick 'cause I need to get there quickly.

Your packages are underneath my feet. Get to the destination airport in Philadelphia. It's unloaded. It's tendered to our final mile partner. And this is where, talking about those regionals, that's where we kind of connect with them for delivery on that next day. On day two, it goes through their sortation.

Driver shows up at your house. Not a drone yet, but it's dropped at your front door. Our tech is the backbone, is the glue that holds all the puzzle pieces together. Right. Okay. So full visibility and tracking, manifesting, you know where your packages are. 14 different touch points. Hey, your package has been picked up from the distribution center.

Hey, it's out for delivery. Hey, here's a picture of your package at your front door delivered at 3:06 PM on Tuesday. 

Lori Boyer 16:11 

Yeah, so it comes with all the tracking and, okay, so. Let's say that I'm thinking, okay, so what are the risks here? Are there volume limits? So for instance, if we don't know how many people are gonna check their bags or something, how does that work?

Ed Burek 16:27 

Yeah, the airlines have been doing this for a long time. You know, they know what, what it's gonna look like. They have data and analytics that they know their availability. And our partner is also a cargo company, so they've done it both in cargo and using the passengers. So their, their, their ability to know what that availability is, is shared with us.

And then we make sure that we have our customers assigned accordingly to make sure that we're hitting their wants and needs. You know, the, and that's the thing is airlines have tried to do this before and they've always kind of fallen a little short 'cause they're great at cargo and great at passengers.

But delivering a small package to someone... 

Lori Boyer 17:09 

That's hybrid. 

Ed Burek 17:10 

Is a little different. We have a lot of people from UPS, FedEx who really know that business who've joined our company because it's unique, like Chris, and those capabilities and understanding how to make that happen is really the difference.

You know, our technology's the backbone, but I would really say our expertise is the really glue that really brings that together. 

Lori Boyer 17:32 

Yeah. So I really love, I mean, it kind of sounds like basically you've got some predictive analysis with your partner. Are you able to share who your partner is? 

Ed Burek 17:39 

I'm not officially allowed right now.

Lori Boyer 17:41 


Ed Burek 17:41

But you, but in the next few weeks you'll be able to see, trust me... 

Lori Boyer 17:44 

Okay. Okay. I'm gonna keep an eye out and we'll see. 

Ed Burek 17:47 

Chris, I, Chris, Chris would've made me dress like a stewardess for the airline if... steward. 

Lori Boyer 17:52 

Now I wish we delayed and, and had this a few weeks from now so we could have seen that Ed.

Okay. But what are the major airlines type of…

Ed Burek 18:00 

Oh, it's in the top three. 

Lori Boyer 18:01 

Okay, perfect. So you're working with an airline and but it sounds like using kind of predictive analysis, all the AI tools and stuff we talked about, they kind of generally know within a frame of confidence of how much space they're gonna have on each.

Ed Burek 18:14 

Highly confident. Highly confident. 

Lori Boyer 18:16 

Okay. That makes sense. So what about specialty cargo then? I, I have to assume that, you know, there are gonna be some things that maybe aren't a good fit for doing this commercial cargo route. 

Chris Grey 18:27 

We wanna, generally we stay away from hazmat and dangerous goods, right?

Lori Boyer 18:31

Yeah, that's, that's what I was thinking is a little dangerous there. Huh? 

Chris Grey 18:36 

I'm flying on vacation. I don't want something that's gonna you underneath my feet. And all parties agree that that's the way to, to kind of approach this. 

Lori Boyer 18:47 

Okay, so hazmat, this is probably, you're gonna need to stick with something traditional.

You might wanna not wanna be looking at this. However, if my guess is a lot of companies may ship some hazmat and some not, so I, my assumption would be that they would be allowed to, to kind of do a hybrid where they're using multiple carriers that way. Is that correct me if I'm wrong? Is that true? 

Chris Grey 19:12 

We're not trying to supplant or replace UPS or FedEx.

I mean, they're, they're enormous, operating in 220 countries and territories. The 60,000 drivers on the street, this is all the stuff I used to say on, on calls. We're alternative and complimentary. Let us, let us help you out strategically. There are some things, I don't want your, your beds right? You got like an 80-pound higher. 

Higher aren't gonna work. 

So live animals we probably wanna avoid. 

Lori Boyer 19:46 

Yeah, exactly. Or shipping. Okay. Yeah, that completely makes sense. And obviously there's a huge place it's absolutely we need our major carriers, but there are times for people to branch out. Which brings me to the question, when, when is the sign maybe that it's, do they need to be a certain size for this to be cost effective?

Are there certain signals that a company could say like, okay, this is probably a great option to try some alternative carrier options. Or, you know, maybe I need to grow a little bit more. When does it become cost-effective for them? Any sort of, you know, signals in their company that they are? 

Ed Burek 20:22 

I think the thing that I've found that's unique with coming in with coming as part of this is.

Suppose you're growing 40% a year and your product is just doing phenomenal. Right. You're the new Ginsu knife to old-school shake weight. Right, right, right. What, whatever you wanna call it. Right. Grown 40% and you're like, I gotta take advantage of the, of their traditional zones to get two-day, so I gotta build a warehouse out in, out in Utah.

Okay. Right in Salt Lake with us. You don't need to do that. You can avoid the warehouse. If it's the, if, if we could put it underneath the plane and we can settle on a price, we can get it there. So regardless of what Chris is gonna be able to do to just improve shipping in two-day and all the things that he's gonna talk to you in a second about, CFOs love that cost avoidance. 

If I don't have to spend 30 million on building a warehouse, inventory, insurance, people, computers. Electricity. You know, all that stuff because we could still get it there in two days across the country. That's what I think is the thing that I find amazing.

Beside the fact we can do better on getting packages anywhere in the country, you know? But I think that's one of the things to look at and it's sometimes is missed, right? Because I think going to what Chris said, people are used to things. They don't think about that broader piece, and that's why sometimes we have to talk to the COO or CFO on that kind of level.

Lori Boyer 21:49 

Yeah, so, so what I'm hearing is, the first thing is if a company's growing and they're considering expanding, adding DCs, looking at, you know, wanting to get more of their goods out, it could be with a cost analysis that it's actually just more affordable to use an alternative carrier. 

Ed Burek 22:08 

Absolutely. And Chris's team has an entire process that they walk through to give specifically by zip code how much better it's gonna be.

Lori Boyer 22:16 

Yeah. Awesome. Chris, what else? What, what are other signals that like people should be exploring alternative carriers? 

Chris Grey 22:23 

Customers always say that, Chris, I can't compete with Amazon. How do I get it from New York LA in two days? Well, it was cost prohibitive with the traditional carriers, right? My planes are going there anyway, so that that air cost is…

I'm able to have some advantages there and offer comparable to a ground rate. So if you're customer experience, you're trying to improve, if you can improve the experience, reduce card abandonment, increase sales, increase profitability from a, you know, how many packages a day, if you're complex enough to be thinking about these other things, right?

Mm-hmm. Do I need a warehouse? How can I, from a marketing and customer experience perspective enhance my time at transit or increase customer satisfaction? If you are that kind of a company and, and you're big enough to have those kinds of strategic questions, it's probably good to talk to us. Okay.

If you're Mike shipping shoes outta your mom's basement, probably not. 

Lori Boyer 23:21 

That's what I was thinking. Yeah. So if I'm just creating jewelry and I'm in my garage…

Chris Grey 23:27 

Not yet. 

Lori Boyer 23:28 

Maybe I'll sign up to send something with a drone just so I can feel cool for a minute. But cost-effective, you know, long term I'm not quite ready for an alternative carrier.

Yeah. Okay. Awesome. Okay, so I feel like flights get delayed. Reliability, storms, those kind of things. Would you feel like the reliability, I, I guess how would you address that concern in terms of, you know, we've all personally experienced flight delays and whatnot, so how does that impact delivery?

Chris Grey 24:00 

So we, typically, we're not flying puddle jumpers between tiny airports. 

Lori Boyer 24:06

Okay. So major flights, major routes. 

Chris Grey 24:10 

Major flights, major routes. When I fly into LA that gives me final mile coverage in all of California, Reno and Vegas. LAX, tons of flights in a given day. I think there are nine or 10 narrow and wide-body planes coming outta JFK to LAX in a day if I miss one, I get priority on the next one if something happens with that one, I get priority. If the airport shuts down, nobody's moving anything anyway, right? 

Lori Boyer 24:38 

The cargo planes as well, right? So... 

Chris Grey 24:41 

You get, you get two feet of snow, doesn't matter who you're using, nothing's moving. All of that data filters through our tech.

So we see it. I, I see, hey, this flight was delayed. We just adjust and put it on the other plane. 

Lori Boyer 24:56 

Okay. Okay. That makes a lot of sense. 

Ed Burek 24:58 

And as part of that tech, we, we, we make sure to message our partners last mile. Here's what's happening. The, the, it's now gonna arrive at this time, at this gate. You know, so there's constant communication between them and the customer.

So if it is delayed by weather, we let the customer know. Whether in Boston, maybe delayed by by a couple of hours. So, We're constantly using that tech to people as well. And I think one of the things that's interesting is there was this Pitney Bowes put out this piece. Which, when we talk about between 2021 and 2022, you know, the big three, four kind of were down 3 to 4% on average in terms of shipping. 

Alternative carriers were up by 25%. So I think the market in itself is starting to realize that there are alternatives, and I think the alternatives are getting the quality that everyone else is seeing. Right. To Chris's point, you know, if people start to think about these alternatives, it gives them some advantages, right?

When I negotiate, if I now have the big two and a third one, that gives me some leverage to say, well, okay, I'm gonna move this over here, you know? Mm-hmm. And Chris will tell you, he was always in those conversations. Being the guy who's trying to, to have them, you know? Yeah. And I think, and I think that's what's starting to happen as well, is some people are using alternative carriers and it's giving them a strategic advantage that, candidly, I don't think they wanna talk about as much.

It's tricky. 

Lori Boyer 26:26 

Really interesting. But probably those who are getting that strategic advantage don't necessarily want to share their secret with their competitors. So... 

Chris Grey 26:35 

We, some of the people using us have specifically told, well, you know, gimme a referral. Hey LinkedIn, you know Stephanie over at this ecommerce company, can you put me in touch?

Nope. They say, no, I don't want them to know what I'm doing with you because then they're my competitor. Yeah. So it's really the risk-tolerant folks, the adventurous ones, the savvy. Mm-hmm. You know, they're already doing it. And I didn't even realize it at first. Behind the scenes. A lot of people are already doing it, but they're not telling.

Lori Boyer 27:06 

That's interesting. So if somebody is scared I mean, do you recommend just trying it a little bit, trying it with like, when, when you're doing, and this is for any alternative carrier, again, you know, we're talking specifically to you guys because it's cargo, but there's a lot of other options.

What can they do? Would you recommend, like, oh, put in a few loads or 5% of your shipping, or, you know, how, how do you help people experience it without putting all their eggs in one basket? 

Ed Burek 27:37 

Well, I'm gonna let Chris answer this, but the number one thing, Chris, when he first started working here, when he would come back to me, he would say they didn't believe me.

Like, like they thought it was too good to be true. Huh. He's like... 

Lori Boyer 27:49 

And all of us are, are, are honed to be like, okay, I'm a little suspicious here. 

Ed Burek 27:54 

Right? Like, what's going on? Yeah. I just wanna say that 'cause I, because Chris should absolutely take this 'cause he's been through it and had to go through this.

But I think that's part of it as well when you sit there and say, well you can put it underneath the plane. Well, why haven't they been doing that all these years? Right. Two reasons that. The technology to be able to do that because is one thing. And then again, that connection to the regionals and there's other alternative carriers to be able to connect to that are really what's unique.

But Chris, please, you know, explain to her how you kind of get people to start to use this. 

Lori Boyer 28:22 

Yeah. Yeah. How, how can you get your toes wet without jumping all the way in the deep end? 

Chris Grey 28:27 

Yeah. So don't trust what I tell you. Don't. Hey, Chris says it's good, it's good. I love when you do, but let's take an approach that's more data-based.

So typically I say, hey, gimme three months worth of your package level detail. Gimme your actual details on shipping. Let me analyze it. I'll feed it back to you. I'll say, hey, I can't cover North Dakota. Keep that with the other guys. Mm-hmm. I can say, here's your pricing. I'm gonna be cost-effective, and there's gonna be a time-in-transit advantage. Here's the financial impact of this solution to your organization. And then I say, is it worth your time just from cash alone, your outlay to the traditional guys? Then you say, do you have a contract negotiation? Is UPS gonna strike? During Covid were capacity's cut costs went through the roof, you know, next year costs are gonna go up even more.

So I, I've given you the financial impact. Talk about the marketing impact, right? What does, you know, a 5% reduction in cart abandonment equivalate to? And how can I help you do that? Let's build the picture of the size of the opportunity and the scope, and then it's, let's do a trial. Let's do a week trial.

Let me put you in contact with some other carrier shippers that are using us. Don't hear it from me. No, you shouldn't wanna just hear it from me. Let the numbers talk. Get some firsthand testimonials. Try it out. Let's evaluate and then move forward. 

Lori Boyer 30:02 

So I think that those are all really great tips.

And I'm gonna kind of recap some of them because I think it's so important. If you right now are considering any kind of alternative carrier method or even regional carriers, anything like that Chris gave some really fantastic advice. They should be giving you numbers. They should be running analysis for you.

They should be looking at your data and specifically showing you what you can and can't do. If they just say like, hey, you should be cut, you'll, you'll see 10% decrease, but they haven't looked at your actual numbers, be wary. Be able to talk to other people who are shipping with them. I think that that's really critical when you're trying to try out something brand new.

If you're wanting to do any of those alternative carrier options that we've talked about as well being able to give it a try in terms of location or short-term. You know, nobody should be locking you into five years of, you have sold your soul over to somebody. Those are all red flags, but is there something I missed there, you guys?

Chris Grey 31:11 

It's gotta be a win-win, right? Yeah. Like, good for everybody. It's a win-win, win all around. Mm-hmm. And if it's not a fit, I'm, I'm gonna tell you, I'm gonna say I'm, I'm probably not aligned with what you're trying to do and what you need. Maybe I can refer you to someone else or some recommendations or, hey, when your jewelry business hits this amount, let me call you in six months or a year.

Let's, let's reignite the conversation. 

Ed Burek 31:36 

I mean, even, even, we were at an event a few a month ago. There's this guy we've talked to now at this event, I think two years in a row. He keeps wanting to ship tires. He's like, I love your idea. I'm like, I'm like, I'm like, all right, we can ship 10 tires.

Right. You know, in, in the space, you know, as opposed to 600 ecommerce packages. You know, I, again, I think we to that, but we're honest. We're like, look, that's not, that's not what we do. 

Lori Boyer 31:59 

This isn't a good viable method. I think that that's another great signal that, that you guys and, you know, our, our community out there should be looking for.

Are they telling you the negatives? Are they saying we don't go to North Dakota? Are they saying, oh, we can do anything. We can ship anything, we can, you know, sure. Put your bomb materials on our plane. None of that's gonna happen. Right? So look for people saying no. And being honest with you because that's when you're working with alternative carriers, the good ones are gonna do that.

So I think that's absolutely a great point. What about legal or regulatory concerns? Is there anything that people should be concerned about from legal regulations? That's always something I hear from people that they get nervous. 

Chris Grey 32:46 

No, just the hazmat and the dangerous goods. Right. In theory, we could find ways to accommodate those things, but it's, it's such a niche and, and there's legal and regulatory. And to throw a pair of Nikes onto the bottom of the plane, I'm going from Philadelphia to Utah on, doesn't matter.

Ed Burek 33:07 

And the other thing is with it is it's gotta be domestic right now. Right.

Until, until you start thinking, 'cause international brings in, you know, and it's funny going here to Canada, right? You could buy stuff in Canada and come across, you know, put it in the trunk. They're gonna look at it and keep going. But once, once you get there, you do need to think about cross border.

And that is a solution that we're working on with around the globe already, but, but it's really domestic right now is, is what you wanna be. So that's the only other thing I wanted to add to that. 

Lori Boyer 33:37

Oh, that's a really great point. And actually, it was one of my questions was if we can do this kind of thing internationally, so right now, domestic, one of the things that you guys said that really resonated with me was the fact that a cool thing about all alternative carriers, regional carriers, they're much more willing to work with you individually because they're up and coming too. And so I think that that's really smart. 

So finally, we're kind of running late on time, but I wanted to hear if you guys have any other tips or if you've got an example of, you know, the ideal customer the ideal candidate for these kinds of alternative shipping options, especially around doing cargo on commercial flights and any sort of final tips for our audience out there. 

Ed Burek 34:24 

Yeah, so on the ideal customer profile, I think for, for, for me, it's if you're shipping, you know, four to 12-pound packages, if you're looking to try and go from one end of the country to the other, or broader distances, right? If you're, if you're going New York to Philly, ground is probably gonna be better. And again, I'm not saying absolutely, but it's probably gonna be better. You've already got that if you've already got that contract, I think, I think that's, you know, kind of what's key. 

I think the other part is looking at your customer base and what's going on. Chris has talked about card abandonment. Again, I came outta that ecommerce world right. Card abandonment's been 70%. It's been 70% for almost 20 years now. They've, these companies have spent billions of dollars buying personalization, ai, all these things to make sure it doesn't. Do you know one of the number one reasons why people abandoned cart?

Because they see shipping prices come up after they put everything in there and they're going through the checkout process. Then I abandon because now I'm paying, right? If you, if you get something to 'em in two days and you know that that's, and, and you know, you can match what Amazon does that's what's unique as well.

Now I can price that in. I know what that's worth it, and if I want to use that versus, versus ground, now I can make those decisions so that when they're purchasing it doesn't pop up. And shipping's part of that customer journey and having those alternative carriers who will work with you is key. 

Lori Boyer 35:52 

Okay. Love that. 

Chris Grey 35:53 

You know, customer profile, I'll be a little bit more broad than Ed, weights and we can accommodate a little bit more. But longer zone... I've planes, right? I can do ground, and we're expanding our product portfolio, right? So we're working on a couple things I can't really talk about that'll come out soon too.

Super exciting. I mean... 

Lori Boyer 36:14 

We apparently need to really follow you guys on LinkedIn and everywhere else, see what's happening. 

Chris Grey 36:19 

I got in trouble and had to take down the LinkedIn post. Yeah. Because I was too excited about it. 

Ed Burek 36:25 

He was excited. He was excited being the sales guy and the CEO was like could you pull that down?

It was awesome. It was awesome. 

Lori Boyer 36:33 

Oh, that's hilarious. 

Chris Grey 36:34 

If you don't wanna be beholden, if plan A is to use UPS and plan B is to use the other guy. Well, what happens when the other guy messes up? You go back to plan A. If that's your plan, you probably need to talk to, if not us, some of the other alternatives out there.

Don't be scared. You need to understand, and this is something I had to learn and I'm trying to wave the flag. People are already doing this and seeing advantages. If you're not doing it, you're missing the boat. And someone else is gonna recommend it to the CEO or the COO. It's not gonna be you. Or your competitor's gonna do it and steal your market share, and you're not gonna know exactly what's happening or why, but I'm telling you, this is one of the things they're doing.

Lori Boyer 37:22 

Everybody out there in our audience, if you're interested in learning more about, you know, shipping through commercial flights, I think it's a really cool idea and that's why I brought it to you guys. How can they get ahold of you guys at SmartKargo? 

Chris Grey 37:39 

Email, LinkedIn. First name, period, last name @ smartkargo.com.

Lori Boyer 37:45 

Perfect, and I'll drop a little link here so you guys could check them out in the description. But also just to wrap up, I wanna say there was some really cool things I learned today. I learned a, let's not be afraid of exploring additional options. The industry, you know, cutting edge people are already out there doing it.

Give it a try. There's a way to do it without it being super scary and super risk filled. Second thing I learned is drones in the Midwest. I want to be in the Midwest. Apparently, I have this desire, but I would love to, I'll at some point here for those in the community, I'll try to get some other alternative carriers on so we can learn more about those other options.

But really there's just, it opened my mind to the fact that there's a lot of other cool ways to go about things and just sitting with the status quo is not necessarily going to make us stand out and, and be the best. So I really appreciate you guys being here. It's been great having you guys, and we will see you all next time!

Chris Grey 38:46 

Thank you. 

Ed Burek 38:47 

Thank you.