How startups are redefining logistics

Microtrends and startups


It’s not only long-term megatrends that play a role in shaping the tomorrow of logistics; microtrends and startups can also instigate change over a much shorter time span. Recent years have witnessed startups that have managed to disrupt mature industries in a matter of years, not decades. One example is the hospitality industry and the peer-to-peer lodging site Airbnb. Since its founding as a startup in 2008, Airbnb estimates that over 30 million guests used Airbnb, bypassing traditional hotel rooms.


Could something like this happen in logistics as well? Over the past few years, there has been a structural change of market mechanisms and dynamics in the startup sector. New market entrants profit from a fresh culture of investment, making capital available through new and unconventional streams such as venture crowd funding. Startups are usually also liquid in terms of assets, which enables them to react in an agile manner to new market dynamics.


This has created what can be called the unbundling of logistics services. Established supply chain services can be unbundled into singular solutions that can be delivered better through tech-savvy startups. One key area developing fast is asset-light, ‘on-demand’ brokerage platforms that easily match demand and supply for logistics services such as Uber Rush for on-demand delivery services in cities. The ultimate vision for these platforms is a supergrid oordinating multiple marketplaces.


Beyond the recent hype, the degree of disruption to established players remains uncertain due to the complexity and fragmented nature of the logistics industry. Key questions still need to be answered: Is an unbundling of physical transportation and marketplaces really possible, and to what degree; and is it feasible to broker complex bundles (e.g., bundles from a forwarding product portfolio)through a standardized and automated interface? According to the DHL Trend Radar these are some startups that are unbundling the logistics industry right now:



New challenges


The Supply Chain is always moving and the strengh of start-ups is to innovate everyday and adapt their solution to each new customer. Marc Lolivier, delegate of the Fevad, said "Start-ups have become essential [...] They allow, through their agility, to develop projects that will use advanced technologies to adapt them. They play a real role in innovation." Nowadays, a start-up as is the first to take control of a subject like reverse logistics in its entirety and to apply the same requirement as for a sale and its logistic shipment. The first's clients were Cdiscount, Fnac-Darty, Rue du commerce, which shows that large groups are waiting for innovations and start-ups solutions to meet the new challenges of Logistics. Similar examples are numerous and will continue to grow as e-commerce becomes more and more important (in 2018, 43.7% of people worldwide will make a online purchase) and disrupts retail business!

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