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Freight forwarding refers to a service in which an agency plans and coordinates the shipping process of goods outside the country’s borders. This service is performed for the shippers. Other additional services that might be included in freight forwarding are commercial invoicing, distribution, warehousing, insurance and custom brokerage. They are also known as non-vessel operating common carriers.
In 2019, for the first time after a decade the market witnessed negative growth owing to less international trade. The trend continued in the year 2020 due to Covid pandemic and the trade restrictions in most parts of the world. Reshoring and nearshoring manufacturing may also further affect this market negatively.
The main drivers of the global Freight Forwarding Market are listed below :
The air freight forwarding segment saw a fall in revenue in the year 2019 while the sea freight forwarding segment experienced lesser growth than the previous years. In 2020, further this trend was observed due to trade restrictions.
However the sea freight segment is expected to grow as global maritime trade is forecasted to grow. Trading of containerized cargoes is expected to rise which will in turn help the sea freight segment to grow.
The air freight segment is also expected to rise in the next 5 years. There are certain challenges that the air freight segment is facing. Some of them are – low capacity and very high prices due to which other modes of transportation become more favourable for the users.
Among the above mentioned services, the highest cost that is incurred by the companies is on Value added services. Value added services are generally labour intensive.
Overall, North America is the most dominating market due to high consumer preference towards online buying.
Among all the continents, Asia recorded the highest number of loading and unloading activity at sea ports. Even during the Coronavirus pandemic where there were international trade restrictions Asia- Pacific region’s trade continued to show growth. It is also the highest growing region for this market. The two main reasons for the growth of this region are increase in logistics due to government support and the presence of large economies like India and China. There is also a rise of industrialization and higher adoption of e-commerce which is giving a boost to the market in this region.
South America and the Middle East and Africa is also providing opportunities for growth.
China is the largest market for freight forwarding globally due to its large manufacturing and exporting capabilities.
There are many competitors in this market but the market power is concentrated with the top players.
There are very less barriers to entry as no investment in fixed assets is required. Hence, the competition is intense. Many technologically advanced companies are posing a threat to freight forwarding market players. In an attempt to reduce their costs, shipping companies are acquiring freight forwarding companies which are also having a negative impact on the traditional players. The companies work at very low margin of profit in this market and very slight increase in costs and decrease in demand can impact these companies negatively.
Competitors should focus on making online booking hassle free since that is the more preferred mode for booking services.
Some of the players in the market are
Kuehne + Nagel is the largest player in the sea freight segment.
In order for companies to retain their market share, they need to come up with more specialised solutions for different customer groups and have a global presence. Some strategies that the players have adopted are product launches, joint ventures and acquisitions.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, the freight forwarding market had already been suffering due to the US and China Trade war situation.
The added threat to the situation was the digital transformation being brought about in the industry by many new startups.
In 2020, due to disruptions in the supply chains in many sectors have been impacted. Since China was the first country to get impacted due to Covid and it is one of the largest manufacturers in the world global supply chains were affected from the beginning of 2020. The impact of this was felt by the automobile, electronics, health care and consumer segment the most. There was also shortage of labour in warehouses and truck drivers weren’t available as well. However, the impact on all sectors is uneven because of the presence of e-commerce in such sectors.
Within the different types of routes, ocean and air transport did see a double figure drop impacting the exporting and importing countries. Land transport was less affected as compared to ocean and air routes. The rail became a more preferred mode due to the high charges by the air route.
Due to severe economic impact, the demand has also reduced in various sectors which would further impact the freight forwarding market.
In the future the companies are expected to make higher use of technology, increase air freight capacity and adopt diversification of supply chains so that the logistics sector is not impacted and there will be more readiness of future crisis.
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