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Trend Overview

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B2B buyers are planning to purchase on digital marketplaces. Suppliers have built, are planning to build, or are considering building a marketplace.

Relevance to the Future of Logistics

Transparent Freight Forwarding

In today's highly competitive and fragmented freight forwarding market, it is difficult for shippers to get a comprehensive overview of the variety of logistics providers, their services, and related costs. The transparency of digital freight forwarding marketplaces is therefore a big attraction for companies.

Another important feature of digital freight marketplaces, which also distinguishes them from traditional freight exchanges, is that they are deeply rooted in all process steps of freight allocation, including booking, tracking, and invoicing. Digital freight marketplaces can access everything from the transport request through to invoicing data and can crunch this information using smart algorithms to obtain critical insights. For example, Saloodo!, DHL’s digital freight platform, is operating in over 55 countries across 4 continents and uses this big data to optimize truck return runs.

The need to seamlessly connect road freight networks in different markets and across national borders using digital freight platforms will become increasingly important for companies operating on a global scale.

On-Demand Warehousing

On the one hand, warehousing and storage providers are not fully utilizing space in facilities, with vacancy often reaching 25% while waiting for long-term, high-volume contracts. On the other hand, to meet customer demand it is increasingly important for manufacturers and retailers to be flexible and agile in times of market volatility, from predictable demand fluctuations to unexpected geopolitical events. On-demand warehousing, delivered via a digital marketplace, benefits both sides.

Companies like Warehouse Exchange in the US and SpaceFill in France link retailers with warehouse providers under agreements more fluid in terms of timeframes and volumes than is normally expected with warehouse rentals. With these on-demand warehousing and fulfillment solutions, retailers and manufacturers can rapidly respond to disruptions and dynamic market demands, shifting goods quickly from one warehouse to another. Meanwhile, logistics companies can make more use of each facility, reach out to a much wider pool of potential customers, and realize higher margins from short-term or low-volume commitments.

Labor Gap Alleviation

As detailed in DHL's recent Future of Work in Logistics Trend Report, the aging workforce and greater labor shortages are having a major impact on the global logistics industry, especially in warehouse operations and truck driving. For instance, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) has projected a shortage of 175,000 truck drivers by 2026.

Establishing workforce marketplaces that connect logistics providers with available workforces for a short period of time can help these organizations optimize personnel resources and address the volatility of workforce demands across regions and seasons. Czech company Liftago, as one example, offers an emergency network of local drivers to help logistics companies meet acute delivery demands during peak seasons. With labor shortages forecasted for the next few years, these marketplaces for labor solutions can help logistics organizations avoid headcount deficiencies, better manage volatility, and keep up with customer demand.

Challenges

In logistics, digital marketplaces must guarantee that sensitive customer data is kept confidential.
Digital marketplaces require a minimum level of demand and supply to operate successfully and this can prove difficult to attain, especially in remote locations and for specialized logistics solutions.
A strong application programming interface (API) is required to integrate every single supplier and customer on a platform and provide a seamless, transparent user experience.

This trend should be ACTIVELY monitored, with imminent developments and applications.

Outlook

Digital marketplaces are already having a major impact on the logistics industry. In the future, platform providers will be able to use big data and smart algorithms to even better forecast and match supply and demand as well as tailor the best possible solutions for customers.

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