Freight Insights General

Top 20: The Ultimate Logistics Technology Roundup

Feel like you keep on reading headlines about “the Uber-initiation of 3D printed big-data drones“?

We know how you feel.

Logistics startups are popping up everywhere. Logistics start-ups investments shot up from 0.1% of total tech investments in 2012 to 1.37% in the first half of 2014.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 10.52.42 AM

We’re here to make some order out of the chaos.

We’ve rounded up the top 20 logistics technology innovations changing the way over $18 trillion dollars of goods are shipped annually.

Buckle up. Here we go:

Technology Innovations in Logistics

  1. Mobile points of sale…and delivery: It’s not just cash registers. As customers shop online, from tablets and cellphones, while using emerging payment methods like Apple Pay and Google Wallet, shippers will need to learn to ship agilely, reaching customers where they are…which may very well not be at home. [Barrett Distribution@barrettdc]
  2. Optimized trucking capacity: Technology companies like 10-4 are optimizing capacity usage, closing the loop between truckers, shippers and brokers.  [10-4 Systems@10_4systems]
  3. Uber-ification of logistics: Fine, we said it. On-demand logistics services from mobile devices are on the rise. Faster service, great capacity usage and direct connectivity with freight companies means better access to service providers. Companies like GoGoVan or EasyVan in Singapore are leading the charge. [ZDnet,@talk19]
  4. Freight Marketplaces: Cargomatic is a prime example of the rebirth of freight marketplaces. Instead of just instant, on-demand service, these marketplaces are attempting to make selecting a freight provider more efficient, all while trying to maintain the human relationship element.  [Talking Logistics@talkinlogistics]
  5. Big ships: Super-container ships with 20,000 TEU capacity will drive increased efficiency, particularly in countries and areas with the few ports that can support the mega-ships. And yes, it’s not just size; technology plays a key role in keeping those ships operating. [Kogan Page@jmannersbell]

  1. Internet of Things: What is your forklift saying to you? Ubiquitous data collection, as goods, supply chain assets and warehouses communicate with each all spell out huge data insights. The next step? Machines acting independently on those insights. Yea, we think it’s a little creepy too. [Supply Chain Quarterly, from Lew Manci @CrownEquipment]
  2. Tech-Savvy Employees: As Manci also points out, people are still at the heart of every supply chain. As the workforce becomes more tech-savvy, work efficiency improves too. One example? Gamification of wellness to reduce employee sickness. [also Supply Chain Quarterly, from Lew Manci @CrownEquipment]
  3. Shared Networks: According to Gartner, 4-5% of a company’s revenue is spent on inbound logistics. This is pushing companies, even competitors, to combine supply chain operations on shared networks in order to reduce costs. [SC Digest@scdigest]
  4. 3D Printing: Almost 20% of manufacturers are already using 3D printing in their business to some extent. Forwarders haven’t caught up with the game yet…but they’re well on the way. [Cerasis@Cerasis]
  5. Cleantech: Rising environmental concerns are being answered by technology that reduces environmental waste in the supply chain. Startups like Topolytics and Lumense are popping up everywhere, enhancing supply chain tracking and emissions, while ensuring high quality of goods. [TechRepublic@lyndseygilpin]
  6. Augmented Reality: Google Glass is just the beginning. Real-time access to information in the warehouse can fundamentally change how logistics employees work. Supply chains that are driven by data but implemented by people are empowered by live access to contextual data. [Supply Chain Today in Freightos, @SCMProfessor]


  1. Automated Vehicles: Google Car is already on the streets of San Francisco. Now we’re just waiting for Google Truck. Automated vehicles means safer transportation, 24/7 operations and less deadhead operations. [also Supply Chain Today in Freightos, @SCMProfessor]
  2. Next-Shoring: Off-shoring popularity is dropping, as Asian wages rise and time-to-market requirements increase. The result? Next-Shoring, in which products are developed and produced closer to where they are sold, reducing inventory and shipping costs. [Industry Week@IndustryWeek]
  3. Ship-To-Person: Goods will find people where they are, not where they live. Last-mile shipping will change as people expect goods to be delivered to people, likely based on live location reporting from their cellphone. And what better way to deliver than that than…[LogisticsMatter in Freightos, @logisticsmatter]
  4. Drone Delivery: Amazon has been promising drone delivery for years…and has been testing the technology in Canada, while waiting for US regulators to catch up. They’re not alone; drones are being pitched to the US Postal Service as next-generation delivery vehicles. Into this idea? Check out Matternet. [Wall Street Journal]

(This isn’t strictly related to drone delivery, but you may want to watch this video of a kangaroo delivering a powerful punch to a drone.)

  1. Data Delivery: Traditional data transfer methods in the supply chain, like EDI, email, phones and *gasp* faxes, are antiquated. Supply chains will need to adapt, incorporating faster, agile methods to transfer data. Project44 is one example of a startup company addressing  this. [CarrierDirect in Freightos, @JoelClum]
  2. Your Cellphone: We mentioned mobile consumer purchasing habits above…but B2B transactions are increasingly being conducted over the phone too. Huge companies like Alibaba and Amazon, in the form of Amazon Supply, know this and have optimized both payments and purchasing for the mobile experience. [Cathy Roberson in Freightos, @cmroberson06]
  1. Crowdshipping: We covered on-demand freight service and freight marketplaces above…but what about the full crowd-sharing experience? In his epic coverage of logistics startups, Jonathan Wichmann covers no less than 7 different startups focusing on crowdsourcing the logistics experience. [Jonathan Wichmann@jonathanwich]
  2. Instant freight pricing comparisons: Not to toot our own horn…but with air travel booking and comparisons around since 1995, it’s time that freight joined the party. Which is why startups like Freightos are working on instant freight pricing and quoting for both forwarders and shippers. [Fast Company@nealunger]
  3. Robots: Robotics have the power to change the entire freight industry. From collaboration together with human employees (ala Baxter) to independent robot forklifts (ala KIVA, now owned by Amazon), robots can reduce supply chain risk, expedite operations and decentralize manufacturing. [Manufacturing Geek@CamstarSystems]

Shipping is one of the oldest industries in the world. With a long history of technological innovation, ranging from the Ford supply chain to McLean’s shipping container, it has never stopped redefining how goods are moved around the world. At Freightos, we feel incredibly privileged that we’re taking part in this tradition.

Got some other core technology innovations we’re missing? Let us know!