Sharing: a lesson for more than just kindergarten

“Sharing instead of owning” is not some flash-in-the-pan trend. As a new business model, it offers many opportunities, especially for logistics. DHL has just released a report on this evolving revolution underway. Under the title “Sharing Economy Logistics. Rethinking logistics with access over ownership,” DHL puts the spotlight on the role of logistics in establishing and expanding the sharing economy. The study starts with insights into how this new model for consumption and business works. Examples from various industries illustrate the different kinds of sharing business models, including overnight accommodation, recruiting freelancers, and sharing agricultural and construction machinery. The report also includes features on car sharing and ride sharing services.

Good prospects for logistics

The diverse nature of the sharing economy also represents opportunities for logistics. “Logistics providers can really benefit from sharing their own assets, as well as facilitate the sharing of goods that are a hassle to transport. Digital sharing platforms give instant access to what’s available from online networks of users, including but not limited to hotel rooms, taxis, construction equipment household items and even people’s personal time or skills. Logistics providers can leverage these developments via more cost-effective usage of warehouse space, more efficient transportation and delivery methods, or flexible staffing models” ,says Matthias Heutger, Senior Vice President Strategy, Marketing & Innovation, DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation.

[Source: Trend Report „Sharing Economy Logistics“]
[Source: Trend Report „Sharing Economy Logistics“]

DHL: a sharing pioneer

The idea of sharing is not new to DHL. For example, in its early years, the company once offered free airfare to passengers willing to give the company their carry-on baggage allowance. This was one way to transport important documents quickly, which, of course, is the cornerstone of the express logistics business. As times have changed, three billion smartphones around the world enable resources to be shared much more quickly and easily. So why shouldn’t warehouse and transport capacities and personnel also be shareable? The potential is there. Research shows that one in four trucks on the road in the US and Europe are running without a load. Even trucks carrying a load are frequently not fully occupied. Digital platforms like Saloodo! create greater efficiency. They make available capacity more transparent and in real time.
Warehouses can expect scale effects if several logistics providers come together to use them for different customers. This will allow demand, fulfillment, and expertise to be bundled at one location. This can be compared to the room sharing model practiced by companies like AirBnB. The expectation is that warehouses that make use of currently unused capacity will increase productivity and achieve cost advantages.

Regulated sharing, please

Of course, this transformation in the economy will require changes to applicable regulations. The trend report addresses this with regard to such issues as risk, transparency, insurance, and workplace safety protections. “Collaboration between companies and policy makers is necessary to ensure development happens in a positive and productive way,” Heutger points out. “With logistics perfectly placed to enable and benefit from this trend, it will play a key role in shaping the Sharing Economy and rewriting the rules of value creation.”

Author: Jürgen Eschmeier

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