The Evolving Freight Forwarding Market

Last week, The Elite League and Logistics Trends & Insights LLC hosted a lively Twitter chat on the changing freight forwarding market.

The actual conversation can be viewed on Storify and on Twitter at #FF16. Panelists that weighed in on this timely topic were:

  • Wiebe Helder, Cargobase
  • Amit Agarwal, Panalpina
  • Eytan Buchman, Freightos
  • Fauad Shariff, Crescent Air

Defining a freight forwarder is not as easy as it once was as most of our panelists attested. While all agreed that a forwarder is a facilitator or agent responsible for moving goods the best way possible, Amit Agarwal from Panalpina noted that today’s forwarders are much more such as a value-adder and a consultant.

This expanding definition of a freight forwarder can be attributed to the changes it has witnessed in the past 5-10 years. For example, Eytan Buchman, Marketing Director Freightos noted margins being squeezed while facing increasing costs. In addition, shipper expectations are expanding. According to Buchman, “Forwarders are trying to stay in the black while providing outstanding service.” However, Wiebe Helder, CEO and cofounder of Cargobase boldly noted “Most freight forwarders are stuck to their 1980 processes and technologies” which sparked a lively conversation among the panelists.

Meanwhile, with Amazon entering the freight forwarding space, all the panelists expect more companies to enter the market such as Alibaba and Google. Fauad Shariff, President of Crescent Air observed, “Google loves data and logistics is in need of data transparency. They could be a player or platform.” In addition Shariff noted “there is a huge opportunity for niche players to build small platforms”.

As such, it is no surprise that technology has been a major driver for change and innovation within freight forwarding and the overall logistics market; but what technologies will logistics providers need to weather the next five years? Buchman noted their customers have mentioned freight rate management, track and trace and forecasting and analysis tools as most important to them while Agarwal suggested that visibility is becoming more important and also a focus among most top forwarders. Indeed, Helder commented that “visibility is still very limited on both the shippers and provider sides”. To round out the technology discussion, Shariff added SaaS tools to keep IT platforms flexible and API's to extend and access new technology without a massive capital outlay.

As the chat came to a close, panelists were asked how forwarders can remain relevant in today’s environment.

  • Wiebe Helder: They will remain relevant in some parts of the business if they keep up with innovation.
  • Amit Agarwal: Faster to react and provide solutions. Provide a global reach and expertise to handle regulatory changes.
  • Freightos - Forwarders can survive (and thrive) with better customer relations, reduced costs and incredible value-add. Tech makes it happen.
  • Fauad Shariff - By following the golden rule: always add value to your customer's business!

What Do You Think?

We want to hear from you! Freight forwarding plays an important role and as such we would appreciate your thoughts on this topic by taking just a few minutes to answer just a few questions. The results will be compiled and analyzed in an upcoming white paper that we’ll share for free with all respondents. Thanks!


About Logistics Trends & Insights LLC

Based in Atlanta, GA, Logistics Trends & Insights LLC provides customized research and consulting services utilizing a global network of trusted and industry-experienced analysts. For more information please visit our website at or contact Founder & Head Analyst, Cathy Morrow Roberson at

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