When life throws you one of those sink-or-swim moments, you hardly expect to be rescued by a perfectly-timed e-commerce furniture shipping wave.
That pretty much sums up the past three years on uShip for Brad and Carolynn Bogle, owners of Carlisle, Pennsylvania-based transport company CircleB Shipping.
When Brad found himself looking for a career change, he and Carolynn bought a box truck to hit the road with every intent of getting “paid to travel.”
But it ultimately was easier said than done.
The husband and wife team spent over two months trying to drum up business, including active e-commerce furniture shipments on the uShip marketplace. “For us, it was really a sink-or-swim situation. We bought this truck, so we had to make it work,” Brad says.
Eventually, they landed their first uShip shipment. Carolynn recalls that it was a dresser traveling from Maryland to Long Island. “We had no reviews but this older couple took a chance on us. It all worked out, but we quickly realized the $150 we made on the delivery just wasn’t going to cut it as a business model,” she says.
To make it work on the road economically, they needed volume — and fast.
Catching the In-Home Delivery Wave
It was about this same time — late 2017 — that uShip was launching In-Home Delivery, a service dedicated to helping online furniture sellers and e-commerce marketplaces ship their large and bulky goods.
One of those customers was (and continues to be) Everything But The House, or EBTH, an online estate auction marketplace that uses uShip to get furniture and other large and bulky items from their various warehouses to end buyers’ homes.
As Brad and Carolynn tapped into a consistent shipment volume from EBTH’s Baltimore warehouse, what started out as sink-or-swim survival turned into catching the perfect wave of e-commerce furniture shipping and uShip’s In-Home Delivery.
“We just kinda fell into it,” Brad says.
Over time, the Bogles have found a regular route, a stable schedule, and gained a better understanding of the economics of shipping. They also learned early on that traveling with their cat was a really bad idea.
And now, in just three years, they find themselves among uShip’s Top 20 In-Home Delivery carriers.
In the last 12 months, they’ve booked over 300 In-Home Delivery shipments, mostly through EBTH and another In-Home Delivery partner Chairish, making CircleB Shipping a Platinum Power Carrier. They have 100% feedback, a 4.9 star rating, and an even more impressive 1% cancellation rate.
Their business now includes other uShip categories as well as private clients. Overall, uShip represents 60% of their overall business.
Tapping into eBOL
Given the couple’s shipping success and volume, they were ideal candidates for uShip’s latest product, Electronic Bill of Lading, or eBOL for short.
eBOL makes it easy for carriers like the Bogles to replace the paper BOL process with digital photos, notes, and customer sign-off. As one of the main ways logistics is going digital, it’s designed to give consistent, instant, and secure digitized shipment documentation to carriers and their shipping customers.
“eBOL forces you to take photos of items. For anyone in shipping, this is a really good idea,” Brad says.
Carolynn has started using eBOL’s “Unable to Collect Signature” feature, allowing her to obtain a ‘signature’ even when no one is available at pickup or delivery, or when customers prefer not to handle the Bogle’s cell phone to sign out of an abundance of COVID-19 caution.
Admittedly, adopting eBOL during the beta testing period had a learning curve for the Bogles, especially as they worked around COVID-19 restrictions and customers’ safety concerns. They continue to mask up for protection. But now, they use eBOL almost exclusively on eligible shipments.
While they’ve been getting their eBOL sea legs, they’ve been using a combination of eBOL on the uShip app as well as their in-truck printer that spits out paper BOLs. This is allowing them to compare and contrast the differences, benefits, and efficiencies.
While there’s familiarity with the printer-and-paper method (along with disposable pens), Brad admits the traditional method isn’t foolproof.
“The printer has tripped us up at times,” he says. “As I think about it more, given the time spent printing and buying ink, eBOL overall can be faster.”
eBOL Now Available
eBOL is now widely available across uShip to all carriers and shipping customers in select categories and commodities in Household Goods (including furniture), Motorcycles & Mopeds (including ATVs), Cars & Light Trucks (including RVs), Boats (including powerboats and sailboats), and Less-Than-Truckload/LTL (including new and used commercial goods).
Plus, for carriers with drivers, they can send a single magic weblink to their drivers, who can then use eBOL without having a uShip account or the uShip app.
“It’s really important that both shipping customers and transporters exercise caution so that we can continue to provide a safe delivery process – eBOL will be an essential tool moving forward to make this happen,” Brad says.