Sharing economy could shake up logistics

Logistics will play a major role in shaping the Sharing Economy according to a new DHL Trend Report titled “Sharing Economy Logistics– Rethinking Logistics with access over ownership.” The report asserts that embracing digital platforms and business models built around sharing, not owning, assets presents a significant future opportunity for the logistics industry.

While the concept of sharing is not new, logistics providers can leverage this trend via more cost-effective usage of warehouse space, more efficient transportation and delivery methods or flexible staffing models.

How sharing works
The report provides a guide to how sharing works and the underlying business models powering it, as well as best practice insights in several industries that logistics can learn from holistically. In the Sharing Economy, users – individuals or organizations – get temporary access to an asset, service or skill owned by someone else and which would otherwise be underused. Not only does this maximize Return on Investment through greater utilization, it produces a new revenue stream in the form of rental fees for the asset owner.

Sharing is also good for the environment as it leads to fewer new assets being produced, and existing ones are being used more often.

Rethinking logistics in the sharing economy
Today, the tremendous scale of digital sharing platforms and crowd-based access to already existing assets is redefining the concept of ‘sharing’ and could reshape the future of the logistics. Sharing of warehousing space, transport capacities, operational data and staffing are just some of the examples where the Sharing Economy could be effectively employed in logistics.

It could be applied across all parts of the logistics value chain to improve or change logistics operations – as well as create new businesses. For example, according to research, one in four trucks on US and EU roads are driving empty or typically only half-loaded. Digital platforms provide an instant snapshot of availability and the ability to access spare capacity in almost any truck, including smaller delivery vehicles or even privately owned cars on a day to day basis.

Multi-customer warehouses help third party logistics providers achieve greater economies of scale by consolidating fulfillment, demand and know-how between several customers within a single site. Taking the concept of space sharing from the hospitality sector as a role model, sharing excess warehouse capacity would bring great financial and productivity benefits. Sharing has many upsides for urban logistics in particular as firms strive to meet the last mile delivery challenge.

However, this opportunity for new business creation does not come without challenges. Risk liability, transparency, insurance and workforce protection are all issues that need to be addressed.

Download the full report here to learn more.