Amazon is the largest logistics company in the world.

Alibaba makes contracts with Maersk, Kuehne+Nagel, UPS and others.

Coolblue manages its own product distribution.

Many forwarders and logistics service providers are uneasy as a result. Will the internet giants invest more and more in physical goods handling? Will existing logistics companies get swallowed up by them, or simply disappear?

Read the remedies put forward by Christian Leysen (executive chairman Ahlers), Jan Cools (CEO Be-Mobile) and Wilfried Grommen (CTO Hewlett Packard Enterprise), three top players in the logistics world.

From logistics operator to data analyst

Christian Leysen expects that his company will lose 30 to 40% of its traditional business to these internet giants.
In response Ahlers has for some years now been targeting new, international opportunities by focusing on its customers’ data. The new added value comes from smart combination of the different data to yield big gains in efficiency, both for the customer and for the supplier.

His remedy: be more active internationally, offer new added value and make smart use of the existing data.

Become a large logistics consortium

By analogy with the big alliances between shipping companies, Wilfried Grommen pleads for the logistics sector to set up its own large consortium, with the various members together offering end-to-end solutions.

Data are important, and the Internet of Things is a future reality, but don’t ignore the efficiencies that are already there to be exploited, he says.

His remedy: no reason to panic, the added value offered by logistics operators is what makes the difference and indeed can become even more efficient.

The future lies with niche markets

The internet giants go for the largest common denominator, namely big volumes and advantages of scale. But there is still plenty of room for players with a business model in niche markets, according to Jan Cools. They can still offer added value that these big players are not interested in.

Technology can help us with this, provided we share the data with each other.

His remedy: good data are important (not too much and not to little) to share information efficiently with one another.


No, logistics operators will not be swallowed up by the internet giants. On condition, that is, that they specialise, go in search of greater efficiency, make smarter use of the existing data flow and share it among themselves.

Source: Great Logistics Debate, 13 June 2017, organised by Interactive Supply Chain Network