Digital leaps in areas like AI and autonomous technology are fundamentally changing the way goods and people move around the world. Startups are the lynchpin of this transformation, pinpointing areas of need that can be tackled by cutting-edge digital solutions, including digital freight services, warehouse robotics, AI in the supply chain, delivery robotics, and autonomous driving software. That's ultimately forcing incumbents to evolve or see their core businesses erode. Monitoring these startups thus offers unique insight into the development of the transportation and logistics industries at large, and how incumbents are defending their turf.

In a series of five notes, Business Insider Intelligence will look at the top startups disrupting transportation and logistics. In this first note, we discuss the leading startups in digital freight and offer an assessment of their value and impact to the sector. In the second note, we will examine the startups spearheading the rise of warehouse robotics. The third note will explore startups offering AI software to improve the routing of shipments and speed up delivery times, and the fourth note will dive into the robotics startups automating last-mile delivery. Finally, the fifth note will analyze the startups developing autonomous driving software and how they’re challenging big automotive and tech companies in the race to put a self-driving car on the road.

Digital Freight: Easing The Shipping Burden Amid Rising Volume

Freight forwarders organize the movement of goods by finding land, air, and sea-based logistics carriers that are willing and able to ship their clients' parcels. These firms sit at the center of the $800 billion global shipping industry, which is set to see volume grow 75% between 2016 and 2026, largely due to explosive growth in e-commerce. That's putting pressure on retailers and shipping companies, which is only compounded by consumers' expectations that their packages arrive in two days or less.

This pressure is leading businesses to turn to digital freight startups, which manage and track all these shipments through an online or mobile interface. While legacy companies can take up to two days to even set a price, digital freight players typically offer instantaneous quotes. Moreover, these upstarts often connect directly to low-power IoT sensors placed on ships and trucks that offer a level of visibility unmatched by [...]