Companies in this industry provide freight forwarding and customs brokerage services. Major companies include CH Robinson Worldwide, Expeditors International of Washington, and UPS Supply Chain Solutions (all based in the US), along with CEVA Logistics (France); DB Schenker and DHL Supply Chain (Germany); Kuehne + Nagel and Panalpina (Switzerland); Nippon Express (Japan); and Sinotrans (China).
Demand is driven by domestic manufacturing output and levels of international trade. The profitability of individual companies depends on efficient operations, extensive relationships in shipper and carrier networks, and industry expertise. Large companies have advantages in account relationships and access to advanced logistics technologies. Small operations can compete effectively by serving a local market, specializing in cargo transfer with specific countries, and facilitating the transport of unusual goods. The US industry is fragmented: the top 50 companies account for about a third of revenue.
Products, Operations & Technology
Unlike fully integrated carriers that own truck, rail, air, or ocean assets and transport cargo, freight forwarders arrange the transportation of goods without owning any transportation equipment or handling ("fingerprinting") the cargo. Customs brokers add another layer of expertise by facilitating the clearing of goods through international customs barriers. Most companies specialize in either freight forwarding or customs brokering, though some provide both.