DB Schenker Signs on With uShip Online Freight Platform

DB Schenker Signs on With uShip Online Freight Platform

DB Schenker, one of the world’s largest logistics firms, has hired uShip Inc. to connect shippers with trucking companies online, in the latest major tie-up between traditional freight brokers and technology firms.

The logistics unit of Deutsche Bahn AG, which coordinates shipments via air, rail ship and truck for retailers and manufacturers, said it’s paying “tens of millions of dollars” for exclusive rights in Europe to a digital freight-booking platform developed by Austin-based uShip.

Logistics companies worldwide have been racing to develop technology to make it easier for shippers to book freight transportation, much of which is still hashed out between brokers and carriers by phone or fax.

Companies like XPO Logistics Inc. are spending millions of dollars to develop in-house platforms. Others have pursued acquisitions, including United Parcel Service Inc., which last year bought Coyote Logistics, a freight technology firm, for $1.8 billion. Deutsche Post AG took a €345 million ($383 million) write-off on a failed effort to create its own global freight forwarding technology platform.

Large freight operators like DB Schenker, which depend on big industrial shippers that move goods in containers and on pallets, generally have lagged behind technology developments in the retail world that have sought to link consumers more seamlessly to shipping. The rapid growth of e-commerce has fractured many retail supply chains, however, and pushed traditional freight companies to handle shipments in smaller quantities and more rapidly as their customers scramble to meet consumer demands.

DB Schenker, the third-biggest third-party logistics firm with $17 billion in revenue last year, was developing an online booking platform internally, but opted to partner with uShip so the company could offer some of those services immediately, said Nick Parker, uShip’s chief technology officer.

Analysts say logistics operators that don’t offer fast, cheap transportation booking increasingly risk losing business to rivals that can.

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