Press release

Digital platforms are shaking up the freight forwarding market and capturing market share. Millions of containers go around the world each year. Online booking platforms have changed the market significantly. Anyone wishing to send cargo around the world can now simply enter some data, check the options and costs and book a container. Now you can arrange the transport you need in no time.

At the request of SmartPort, TNO and Erasmus University (EUR) worked with Fenex and Evofenedex to investigate the impact of platformisation on the freight forwarding market. We can see that digital freight forwarders such as Flexport, Shypple and Cogoport are gaining market share with their online booking platforms. As we have seen in other industries, such as taxi services (Uber), hotel bookings ( and home delivery (Just Eat Takeaway), this can be a highly disruptive development. You can read the full survey report here .

TNO and EUR conducted a survey among 72 companies, held 13 in-depth interviews and organised three discussion sessions. In it, a number of USPs emerged, which existing freight forwarders believe still sets them apart in enough ways. Issues such as customer management and customer intimacy, managing exceptions and disruptions in the logistics chain, providing assistance in the complex world of multiple hinterland services, dealing with customs complexity and offering additional services. The digital freight forwarders dispute these USPs, though, and indicate that with advanced data analysis and by integrating data with other platforms, they are actually turning their own backlog to their advantage. The perspective of the customers shipping cargo has also been emphatically addressed. Besides reliable and competitive freight forwarding services, they mainly want help integrating freight forwarding processes more closely into their supply chain. Whether they take that step themselves or turn to outsourcing or co-creation depends on their degree of openness and the digital or traditional freight forwarder’s ability to offer genuine added value.

An objective assessment framework for the disruptive power of digital technologies has been applied to platformisation in the freight forwarding market. The results provide food for thought. Is platformisation now a wolf in sheep’s clothing for the existing freight forwarder or is it actually a blessing?

If you are interested in finding out more or if you have any questions about this report, then on 11 February SmartPort, TNO, EUR, Fenex and Evofenedex are co-organising an online community session on booking platforms. More information about this event can be found here.
For more information about this press release, please contact Joan van Winsen, tel. 010-4020338