Supply shortages, new laws, and changing customer demands. The logistics industry currently faces difficult challenges. But! Whoever knows the current trends in logistics can best adapt to the challenges. Worldwide, there are already many startups who are addressing the various problems the industry has to solve. Our overview shows the most important trends in logistics in 2022 – and how startup founders can find applications for their business cases.
Logistics Trend 1: Digital Supply Chain
From raw material over transportation to the finished product: The digital supply chain monitors and controls the complete delivery process – in real time. This is built on the combination of different technologies: sensors and IoT solutions can determine the location and even the condition of the cargo in each moment. AI applications process large amounts of data. Cloud systems link up suppliers, retailers, and customers with each other. Consequently, the digital supply chain showcases many logistics trends: their interaction creates enormous advantages:
- efficiency: When companies use the large data volumes available correctly, they can make better informed decisions and calculate their needs with more precision.
- transparency: The constant exchange of data enables faster resolution of problems within the supply chain. A digital supply chain, however, also uncovers how sustainable the delivery process actually is.
- Costs: Companys can quickly react to new situations and avoid erroneous inventory information and unnecessary storage costs.
What’s obvious: The digital supply chain is one of the most important trends in logistics in 2022. Last year – remember the supply shortages? – showed dramatically where the weaknesses of manual supply chains are. Consequently, logistics is on the threshold of a massive paradigm shift – and startups on the threshold of an enormous window for all kinds of opportunities. The following examples are startups that show how that change can be leveraged into opportunities:
- Limbiq provides companies with cloud-based software which links all actors within the supply chain with each other. The delivery can be tracked from the moment of ordering to the final delivery. Additionally, the startup from Duisburg includes analysis tools for the supply chain and a frontend for customers.
- The Hamburg startup Ourz is providing a blockhain-based service: Every actor involved in the production process must deposit their data in the blockchain. Sensors embedded in the cargo register, e.g., whether the goods are correctly refrigerated in the delivery truck. The product packaging includes QR codes that customers can scan in order to get information about the product and its origins. The complete supply chain consequently becomes completely transparent.
Logistics Trend 2: Robotics & Automation
For many it’s still science fiction, in logistics it’s already reality: Intelligent robots work alongside humans and take over more and more tasks. The advantages are obvious: Robots don’t tire and always fulfill their tasks with consistent quality. Consequently, there are less mistakes, more productivity, and higher speed. The potential becomes more varied.
- “software robots” – bots not only can provide customers with information about the delivery status and answer their queries but also check the availability of products and place orders for missing products.
- storage robots: mobile robots can move autonomously through the storage building and unload deliverys or transport goods.
- autonomous vehicles: packages delivered by autonomous vehicles is still a remote concept in Germany. But, autonomous drones are already used to take inventory in warehouses.
Robotics truly isn’t one of the most recent trends in logistics but the Covid pandemic has shown that machines can maintain production when many human workers fall sick. The ongoing lack of trained personnel also raises the demand for technical help. Many companys use the services of innovative startups to address these issues, as the examples below show:
- The robots of the Munich startup Magazino can recognize, grab, and transport objects using 2D and 3D cameras. In warehouses, they can carry out order picking. Online retail giant Zalando is already starting to rely on this technology.
- Wandelbots from Dresden has developed a smart pen that can transfer human motion unto robots. In logistics, robots can consequently programmed for new procedures in e.g., order picking in a very little time. VW is one of the companys that is already using the concept for its logistics department.
Logistics Trend 3: Smart Concepts For the Last Mile
Everything gets more expensive a few steps short of the goal. The infamous last mile, the leg from the transportation hub to the end consumer, is still one of the most cost-intensive parts of the product journey for the logistics department. The problem – city traffic is becoming increasingly dense, the number of packages increases, as well as the number of delivery stops. This does not only tax company funds but also the environment. There are even more factors in this trend: rising customer demands create more pressure for companies. Companies who want to compete with the fast-paced tempo of deliveries can use the following solutions:
- Innovative modes of delivery: electric vehicles or cargo bikes not only have less impact on the environment but can also faster weave through city traffic to reach their destination.
- Pickup stations: pickup stations enable customers to get their delivery whenever they want. Amazon and DHL are seen as the pioneers of this trend. Now, there are already package boxes for private housholds.
- Microhubs: Small stations such as containers temporarily store goods just before they are distributed with the help of environmentally friendly vehicles or even on foot.
The unstoppable march of online retailing means that this logistics trend will stay relevant in 2022. Company continue working on making the last mile leg more efficient. Startups provide fresh ideas and approaches, as seen in these examples:
- Dropfriends is betting on crowdsourcing. The Cologne startup provides their customers the opportunity to earn money by accepting packages in the name of their neighbours. The actual recipients in turn pay a small fee for that service.
- Fairsend uses electric cargo bikes and electric vans to conquer the last mile. Before the delivery, customers can determine indvidual delivery times. To be able to keep to the schedule, the route is being calculated by an AI application. The Berlin startup’s service is used by companies such as online retailer Loveco or Einhorn, the “fairstainable” condom company.
Logistics Trend 4: Omnichannel Logistics
Online and offline go together. The modern customers not only want to order products wherever they are and no matter what time it is, they also want to get the order delieverd to every possible location. Retailers must provide their products or services consequently using various distribution channels. That’s not the only aspect an omnichannel strategy addresses, it also creates smooth transition between channels. The customer experience is always in the spotlight. Logistics therefore must increasingly assume that goods are searched, bought, and returned on different channels. Known concepts of this logistics trends are:
- Click & Collect: Customers can get the goods they ordered online at a pre-arranged time at a stationary retail shop.
- Return-in-store: Customers can return the goods they ordered online via stationary retail store.
During the Covid pandemic, omnichannel concepts experienced a surge in popularity which, however, added more complexity to supply chains. In 2022, companies will also try to met the requirements of this trend. A central requirement to get on top of that challenge is using a digital supply chain which can manage storage inventories in real time. The efficient processing of returned goods is also important so that goods can be made ready for resale faster than before. Companies are well-advised to outsource these processes to lessen the burden on their own warehase staff. The examples below show that startups can either take over certain processes or directly the whole logistics department.
- Parcel.one is specialized in international shipment of packages. The startup that is located near Frankfurt is using an algorithm that creates the best-possible shipment option for every delivery. Delivery can be tracked anytime.
- Byrd offers an extensive fulfillment software that enable retailers to outsource their complete logistics processes. From warehousing, order picking, packaging to delivery and return shipment management – the Vienna startup takes care of every aspect of the supply chain.
Logistics Trend 5: Sustainability Through Innovation
Sustainability is one the biggest trends of our age which especially affects logistics – due to the fact that the logistics industry is responsible for a large percentage of global emissions. “Green” logistics no longer ist just a moral duty but turns out to be a real factor for success: customers increasingly expect companies to make their supply chains sustainable. A company that’s able to meet these high standards profts from a positive image. A holistic green logistics approach stretches across all delivery processes:
- Transportation: especially the last mile can be bridged using environmentally vehicles like electric vehicles. Also, AI applications help to optimize transportation and avoid empty trips.
- Storage: sustainable warehouses can be powered by reneweable energy sources and generally conserve energy by taking care of low energy consumption. A needs-based planning process helps avoid inefficient inventory management. IT solutions can also help avoid waste of paper.
- Packaging: In the context of sustainable logistics, packaging should be suited to the product to avoid waste. Ecological packaging has the added benefit of being re-usable.
In 2022, the impact of the sustainability trend in logistics will increase significantly. Why? Starting 2023, the new German Supply Chain Act will enter into force. Companies will have clear regulations to adhere to with regard to labor rights and environment protection. Violations will be penalized with hefty fines. These enormous paradigm shift will require companies to go to innovative startups for help. The following examples show a few of the approaches that are possible:
- Seedtrace from Berlin makes supply chains transparent. Companies can describe what ecologically friendly measures they are taking on a special platform. These claims can be verified by a global network. Even data documented by blockchain can be used for that purpose. One of the partners is international cocoa producer Koa.
- IntegrityNext from Munich provides companies with a cloud-based platform which can be used to verify the sustainability of supply chains. It also offers real-time monitoring of social media channels which are scanned for possible infractions of suppliers. Partners of the venture are for example Thyssenkrupp and Evonik.
Let's Look At Our Ecosystem
Our regional B2B startup ecosystem in Ostwestfalen-Lippe has some players who are leveraging the potential of current logistics trend to benefit their business model
- Christoph Dreesbach, Malik Hafez und Bhuvan Sharma, the founders of our alumni startup Cellgo from Paderborn want their customers to find the easiest possible way into professional warehouse automation.
- The founders of Paderborn startup Intab Pro are developing a self-learning tool that uses algorithms to analyze the needs of a bakery and automatically drafts up orders for the inventory control department.
- Our alumni startup Unchained Robotics from Paderborn offers custom solutions for automation technology – customers can independently check which automation systems are available, including their pricing, and which technology suits the needs of their company.
- Bielefeld startup third element aviation is developing and building high-performing drones (UAVs) and applications to optimize efficiency and valorization in industrial process automation
- Güterslo startup Schüttflix have created a solution to make the delivery of construction materials easer. It helps suppliers and truck drivers to connect with customers from the landscaping or heavy-duty construction sector.
- owltec from Lemgo have a vision: They want to create a means to have your heavy grocery bags carried directly to your home.
Health & Biotechnology Trends
In the first part of our series, you can find out which trends dominate the health and biotech scene and how our regional ecosystem is doing there.