Digital Forwarders Gain Traction
Digital forwarding platforms are rapidly gaining traction in a global forwarding market characterized by uneven change, according to Global Freight Forwarding 2019, a new study from Transport Intelligence.
Technology is creating a vast range of forwarding options available to shippers across the globe—from online booking and quotation to visibility tools and control towers.
However, "perhaps the most salient characteristic of the present freight forwarding market is that it has not seen a greater level of change," says Thomas Cullen, one of the report's co-authors. "Markets and technologies have both developed significantly, but the overall landscape is broadly similar to that of the previous 10 years and there appears to be little drive within the sector to change things fundamentally."
Technology-enabled forwarders are a catalyst for change in the global forwarding market, the report finds, but a still-unanswered question is the extent to which online marketplaces, booking platforms, and digital forwarders will fundamentally change the market's landscape. What does seem certain is that if forwarders do not prove agile in their adoption of new technology, they will find that they rapidly lose customers looking for the types of visibility, quotation, and easy booking which digital forwarders can provide.
An extensive market-wide survey carried out for the report supports this conclusion. The survey finds that not only had 49% of participating shippers used an online forwarding platform, but that respondents expect nearly one-fifth (18.7%) of all their volumes to be booked/shipped through such a platform by 2023.
Among the survey's key findings:
- Traditional forwarders must recognize online forwarding disruptors as a catalyst of change—they will rapidly lose customers looking for better visibility, quotation, and easy booking options if they don't.
- 49% of shippers that took part in a market-wide survey have used an online forwarding platform.
- By 2023, nearly one-fifth (18.7%) of volumes are expected to be booked/shipped through online forwarding platforms, according to survey respondents
- The global freight forwarding market grew 3.9% in 2018. Growth slowed from the levels seen in 2017, but the expansion is still one of the fastest seen since 2010.