To bring transportation in sync with the world, powering the most prominent global freight network, industrial shippers, large retailers, carriers, and logistics service providers, Transporeon carries out its goals with collaboration, automation, and real-time insights.
Each of these critical components is embedded within the Transporeon Transportation Management Platform, on which a diverse portfolio of freight applications has been built for a diverse network of participants.
We caught up with CEO Stephan Sieber to learn more about the company’s in-depth workings.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Please start by giving us a brief overview of Transporeon and what it does.
Historically, the freight transport sector – getting goods from A to B, sometimes at short notice – is an industry with high fragmentation yet with an obvious need for multiple point-to-point connections. Too often, the result of that dynamic has been too many transport deals based on quick telephone calls and existing relationships between narrow groups.
We were founded in 2000, having identified that emerging digital technologies could provide a step change in connectivity and communication between shippers and carriers. Our first product, called Best Carrier, enabled shippers with specific freight journey requests to connect online to carriers who could then bid prices to undertake the trip.
Over the past two decades, we have evolved into a much more extensive digital transportation management platform. Our aim is to create pure connectivity between shippers and carriers, between those who have a freight problem to solve and those who can solve it for them. Ultimately it is an efficient matchmaking service between business partners for the benefit of all parties, taking care of the procurement, execution, transparency, and settlement of a freight journey.
We are now the largest freight platform in Europe, processing 25 million transports per year and an annual freight spending of €48 billion. Our ever-growing network currently comprises 1300 shippers, 100 large retailers, and 145,000 carriers and logistics service providers (LSPs). We currently run 18 offices globally, with over 1400 employees across 27 countries.
What factors have made Transporeon so successful?
All businesses share the objective of bringing down costs, and connectivity is so valuable to all parties because it brings down costs. We provide tools and services to shippers, LSPs, carriers, and load recipients, and we create rules, or more accurately standards, for collaboration between them. In any area of life, when you have a group of companies or people using the same tools and services and applying a common set of standards, what usually happens is a community or network evolves, and within that network, all participants have lower transaction costs. This applies to both, finding new business partners, i.e., matchmaking, and to the execution process from freight procurement to transport management to payment and settlement of freight services.
Please take us through your core product offering.
Our products are divided into three key areas. The first area includes market intelligence and procurement. Our market intelligence services, which on easy-to-use dashboards display €-per -km contract rates across nearly 200 country-country corridors and €-per-km spot rates across 80 country-country lanes. It also displays vitally important predicted prices. We also provide tools to help both procure and sell freight services in both the longer-term contract market and the short-term spot market. This is the matchmaking part of the business.
Once the two parties have agreed on that deal, we are then in the second area, where we have products to support transport execution, which is the real meat of the transport sector. Transportation assignment helps to link the 1300 shippers and 145,000+ carriers by helping the shippers secure immediate capacity, either through tenders to contracted carriers or by identifying new providers via the spot market, and helping carriers efficiently serve both their contracted customers and to ‘plug the holes’ in the network with spot loads.
Truck unloading, yard management, and track and trace visibility technology are also part of this package. Timeslot management addresses where the rubber meets the road – or, more accurately, where the truck bumper meets the dock. It is a collaborative tool for shippers and carriers to manage and schedule appointments. All of these products are designed to ensure freight arrives on time and on budget at its destination, with all touchpoints and the journey visible to relevant parties. There are further benefits with these products because they serve environmental goals, reducing empty miles – a scourge of the industry – and vehicle idle time.
The third area is the payment and settlement of the freight transaction. It tallies the service delivered against what was negotiated, including surcharges, penalties, and detention fees, all of which can occur due to the always unpredictable nature of transport movement. This is complex, and our product distils it quickly and accurately.
The payment and settlement segment closes the loop to ensure we are offering a 360-degree service in terms of the freight journey. Alongside these, our data solutions expand on the market intelligence offering, displaying how your transport lanes are performing versus the rest of the market, and thus further informing your buying strategy and decisions, as well as vital sustainability factors, most notably carbon emissions and total trucking costs across your transport network.
What are the challenges and trends driving the industry now, and how does your ethos help to meet them?
Lack of transparency and connectivity are long-standing challenges in the transport sector. We’ve evolved beyond connectivity to interoperability, where our role is to facilitate, to orchestrate that community in which everyone can lower transaction costs.
Most of the inefficiencies in transport don’t occur within companies – they occur between companies, at the points or gaps where they cross over. We close those gaps. We are not a broker; we are not a forwarder – neither of those roles would allow us the neutrality we need. A key USP for us is our neutrality.
We want to get to a point where anyone in our network can do business with anyone else in the network to create true interoperability. Our aim is to be a 100% pure digital platform enabling lower transaction costs across the board.
How do you enrich and contribute to communities?
I think we make a positive contribution to communities simply in terms of enabling engagement and contact. Our contribution to the challenges of sustainability is another I want to highlight because carbon calculation is available as a default on our platforms via our Carbon Visibility product. This is still an emerging area, of course, and it very much depends on the breadth and quality of the data provided by the customer – we can only work with the data we have. But this is something that will undoubtedly play a larger role in the future as accounting methods and standards become agreed upon and implemented.
Another communities-relevant point: our pricing model is almost completely consumption-based. I don’t know any tech company that does this to the extent that we do. Our customers only pay if a successful transaction happens on the platform. The normal model with most technology companies is that you pay or buy the license regardless of whether you draw any value. We are very strict with ourselves in our understanding of the role of a digital platform as a connecting, enabling force: we only charge if a successful transaction happens.
Finally, what does the future hold for Transporeon?
It is extremely exciting for us that at the end of 2022, we announced our acquisition by Trimble, the US-based multinational that already has a very strong presence in the transportation sector.
Working with Trimble is going to be fantastic for us because our businesses complement each other so well. Yes, we both work to address the same challenges, but from very different angles; while we started by examining the needs of the shipper side of the equation, their own focus began with the supply side, the carriers. At Transporeon, we didn’t grapple with the carrier needs in quite the same way until three or so years ago.
I’d summarise how we both approached it as follows: we looked at the challenges in terms of managing the load, while Trimble was looking to optimise the utilisation of an asset. In order to transport goods successfully, you need both. You need to efficiently allocate loads to assets, but you also need to allocate assets to loads.
With both sides of the equation, that’s going to give us an even more unique profile. Meanwhile, we’re giving them something they didn’t have to make them more comprehensive. So it’s going to make us a truly global business, given Trimble’s historic strength across North America and our own strong position in Europe. Shippers think globally, and many of our customers are multinationals, so it is a very exciting opportunity and time for us.