The impact of the sharing economy on logistics

insights  January 4, 2019

The sharing economy not only causes a fundamental change in the tourism and mobility sectors; also in logistics there is a shift from possession to use. Logistics will have an important part in shaping the sharing economy[1]. There are great opportunities for logistics in embracing digital platforms and business models that focus on sharing possession.

A major advantage of the sharing economy is its sustainability

The sharing economy

The sharing economy will be worth $335 billion by 2025[2]. In the sharing economy people or organizations temporarily use a product or someone else’s service that is not yet being used optimally. The sharing economy is not new in itself. After all, before the arrival of the internet people already shared their belongings with relatives. The new aspect of the sharing economy is that sharing is increasingly taking place via internet platforms, which means that people are also going to share their possessions with strangers. Because of this, the most important difference between the old and the new sharing economy is the scalability.

A major advantage of the sharing economy is its sustainability. Because products are used more often, it is used more efficiently. The environmental benefits are the greatest in car sharing and carpooling in particular. Another advantage is that the owner is receiving a new stream of income in the form of fees for use, and the tenants save money. In addition, the sharing economy also has social effects because people interact with each other.


DHL describes in its report ‘Sharing Economy Logistics: Rethinking logistics with access to ownership’ seven applications of the sharing economy in logistics:

  • Truly shared warehousing. This means the presence of multiple users in one logistics center. A digital platform can ensure that companies share their surplus storage capacity with their fellow users. According to DHL, drones and IoT applications will monitor and chart warehouse use.
  • Urban discreet warehousing. Urban discrete warehousing involves the use of storage space for private individuals, for example in houses and offices. Here, the available space is also offered via an online platform.
  • Community goods on demand. Products are increasingly being shared with each other and the logistics sector can respond to this by offering on-demand deliveries.
  • Logistics asset sharing. Companies can rent their vans, forklift trucks or pallet trucks to retailers at times when they are not being used.
  • Transport capacity sharing. The sharing of transport capacity is a reaction to the half empty trucks driving through the US and Europe. Platforms provide real-time insight into available transport capacity and matches shippers and transporters.
  • On-demand staffing. There is a growing staff shortage in logistics. Part of this can be filled up with robotics, but another part is not suitable for this. The sharing economy can meet the personnel needs of logistics companies during peak times.
  • Logistics data sharing. Data that logistic companies own can be shared to make cities more efficient and environmentally friendly. This requires a central platform for data exchange between governments, companies and consumers.

All in all, the sharing economy is undeniably on the rise and will occupy an important place in the economy of the future.

[1] DHL (2017), Sharing Economy Logistics: Rethinking logistics with access to ownership.
[2] (2017), The sharing economy will be worth $335 billion by 2025.
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