For the last 5 years, it has been possible to handle freight transport through the Instafreight online freight forwarding and logistics platform. In this time, the company has established itself on the market and successfully navigated the path from start-up to scale-up. What was initially a two-person project has grown to become a mid-sized business with around 200 employees, three sites in Berlin and Poland, and other sales offices in Italy and Spain.
The Instafreight founders and Managing Directors Philipp Ortwein and Maximilian Schäfer are now starting the next chapter in their company history: they are launching a new product on the market, making their logistics processes more transparent to forwarders and reducing the complexity and cost of transactions.
The product is called Instafreight Transport Management. “We manage the complete transport process for our customers, from scheduling, tracking, billing and reporting, to proof of delivery,” explains Ortwein. Instafreight takes a transaction charge for this service, the level of which depends on the complexity of the customer’s business. But then no further charges are made.
“On average, we need only two weeks to accept customers,” says Ortwein. Instafreight has strengthened its team and brought on board Marc Papenhoff to publicize the new transport management service and drive it forward. Among other roles, Papenhoff previously worked at DB Schenker and helped to set up its Drive4Schenker platform.
Vitra, the Swiss furniture manufacturer, is a pilot customer of the new service and is benefiting from significant savings, according to information received from the company. The transaction charge is significantly lower than the company’s previous administrative expenditure, explains Ortwein. Vitra is now able to better control the upstream and downstream processes and, above all, appreciates the transparency of the processes – for instance information about which trucks are available and when they arrive at their destination.
Another key benefit in the eyes of Instafreight boss Ortwein is the fact that forwarders have access to other transport service providers. For instance, it would be a major undertaking if they wanted to increase their number of regular companies from 100 to 1,000. But by using Instafreight they can boost their network to 25,000 companies overnight. This is how large the Instafreight customer base is: an additional bonus of digital forwarding. Forwarders benefit from more than just information on the volume of cargo space available. Among other things, Instafreight also records on the platform which equipment companies use and their most popular routes. For instance, in a bid for the Munich to Milan route, the client can specifically access companies that regularly service this route.
There are only benefits for transport service providers, the Instafreight bosses are convinced. They come into contact with other potential customers. But financially, are not exposed to any risks: they do not have to pay a transaction fee. And we do not entertain predatory pricing in any shape or form, stresses Ortwein. There are no freight standards; the two contracting parties agree on a transport price over which Instafreight has no influence.
The information that Instafreight holds on over 25,000 transport companies is a veritable goldmine – and is also the basis for yet another new service: users of the Instafreight Transport Management service can also reduce their carbon footprint. “We have the data on the truck used, the distance and the weight of the consignment, which we can use to calculate the CO2,” explains Ortwein. This means that Instafreight can also use its digital expertise for further sustainability-related services.
Customers can opt to “only” find out about their carbon footprint in general or the carbon footprint of a specific consignment. Or they can use the Transport Management Tool to explore ways of tackling their emissions. Instafreight offers a toolbox with a range of different options. “We can examine turning three LTLs into a milk run or an FTL,” explains Ortwein. The company also has data about whether the transport companies are already using gas or electric drives. The Instafreight Managing Directors regard the combination of digital and sustainable order handling as providing a clear competitive edge.