Logistics in the Age of the Sharing Economy

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We are living in an age of sharing. From apartments to cars — Airbnb to Uber — many of us are accustomed to sharing and not owning. In 2014, the sharing economy was worth $15 billion and is expected to grow in value to $320 billion in the next ten years. What does this mean for logistics? Experts believe this is an opportunity for the industry to play a major role in shaping the sharing economy.

Defining the sharing economy

The sharing economy is as an economic system in which assets or services are shared between individuals or organizations via the Internet. In other words, many of us are using apps and websites to share pretty much whatever, whenever, wherever we want. Many of us are used to sharing high-value assets such as apartments or cars. Yet, the underlying concept and business strategy of “sharing” can be applied to almost anything.

Logistics and the sharing economy

How does the sharing economy relate to logistics? In many ways, logistics companies — specifically 3pL’s — were among the first to enter the sharing economy, although in a less Internet-tech way. 3pL’s have collaborated and partnered with transportation companies to assist customers in saving time and money when shipping a product. For example, utilizing (or sharing) fleets, lanes or empty miles, sourcing empty space in warehouses or filling rail and ocean containers with LTL or LCL shipments.

Today, 3pL’s can make the most of technology to find the best available partner companies to service customers. Logistics companies must stay educated on new innovations and support the operation of the growing sharing economy. They must do this in the same way they have supported, grown and innovated alongside other companies in the transportation industry such as manufacturers, shippers and distributors.

Our digital connectedness will continue to keep us sharing. This is a promising new opportunity for logistics to jump in and shape the sharing economy.

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