Global Freight Forwarding in 2018 – Radical change built on solid foundations

August 1st 2018, Bath UK: Global Freight Forwarding in 2018 – Radical change built on solid foundations.
  • The fundamentals of forwarding remain unchanged, but its short-term future will be characterised by the introduction of technologies that unlock value and enhance capability
  • Simplicity and responsiveness are driving the introduction of new technology as forwarders seek to rapidly enhance customer-centricity
  • Freight forwarders recognise demand for speed and precision in operations is key battleground in introducing technology to real-world forwarding processes
  • The entry of online marketplaces and digital forwarders provided an impetus for the world’s largest forwarders to drive the development of their own tech-based capabilities

In preparation for the release of its new report, Global Freight Forwarding 2018, Transport Intelligence’s team of analysts has conducted extensive interviews with leading global freight forwarders, a selection of the most prominent spot market platforms and digital/online forwarders, as well as a range of senior industry figures. The research forms one part of Ti’s largest ever interview-based studies of the forwarding market, and the results point to significant opportunity and threats ahead.

Radical change built on solid foundations

While the underlying fundamentals of freight forwarding have remained relatively unchanged, there have been a number of significant changes in both the structure of the forwarding market in recent years and in the way services are offered to the market. One of the most visible has been the introduction of digital forwarders, marketplaces and spot market platforms. The entry of such players into the market has been a key driver of innovation in customer service and experience, and in the wider movement to embrace new technologies as they mature and start to create value. Online marketplaces and digital forwarders are not a transformative and disruptive threat, but a viable solution for shippers with specific needs and a segment of the forwarding market in their own right, according to the largest forwarders globally.

“Large freight forwarders have realised that online rate quotation and booking platforms are a great way to win SME and ad-hoc business. Simplicity and responsiveness of service are often top of the list of priorities for such customers, which digital forwarding in theory should deliver well. In practice, however, there can be wide discrepancies in service quality across platforms. Both large forwarders and the newer players are continuously evolving their offerings to get ahead of the competition,” said David Buckby, Economist at Transport Intelligence.

Transformation from within

Alongside the development of market-facing systems, forwarders are transforming themselves from within to unlock value and enhance capability and efficiency. Plans to implement change, to enhance customer experiences and to drive both efficiency and quality at scale show a diversity of opinion and variation in business and operating models.

“The short-term future of forwarding will be driven by the use of technology to deliver against the need to improve operational efficiency and enhance customer-centricity. There’s no established route to success and forwarders are likely to need a suite of internal and external tools to meet all the demands they’ll face. The highest risk comes with no activity – forwarding is and will increasingly be a tech-enabled business in which standing still isn’t an option. Beyond that, the character of risk changes – not all technology will mature in the way expected and the market will shift, but using technology to gain operational and customer satisfaction advantages is key to the game forwarders are in at the moment,” said Nick Bailey, Head of Research at Transport Intelligence.

Global Freight Forwarding 2018 includes:

  • Extensive analysis of the technology-based transformation currently taking place in freight forwarding, including the introduction of market-facing service offers and the development internal systems to improve operational efficiencies
  • An investigation of the size of the SME shipper market, as well as analysis of the strategies and tactics digital forwarders, marketplaces and the world’s largest forwarders are implementing to win their business
  • Transport Intelligence’s freight forwarding market size analysis, which reveals an 8.0% market growth in 2017 – a rapid expansion compared with recent years and the biggest annual gain since 2010


Source: Transport Intelligence, July 31, 2018

To download Ti’s new report, or for further information on the report, click here.

For any enquiries, please contact Ti’s Business Development Manager, Michael Clover +44 (0) 1666 519900 [email protected]