After eight years, Quicargo, a Dutch transportation platform, is temporarily halting its operations. During the last week, a bankruptcy was initiated, prompted by an unforeseen setback in investor commitments. This measure is being taken to facilitate discussions with partners and explore potential solutions for the company’s financial challenges and future business development.
In recent months, Quicargo sought financial support to sustain its operations. Unfortunately, a promising deal anticipated for release in February 2024 fell through when the intended investor withdrew their offer unexpectedly, according to Quicargo management.
Digital logistics platform
Quicargo introduced a digital logistics platform 2016 to connect European shippers and carriers. The goal was to make transportation companies more profitable by utilizing truck trips more efficiently, resulting in better matching of supply and demand for the transportation of pallets and parcels.
The platform provided shippers easy access to many carriers who could provide transportation. Quicargo’s distinguishing feature was that it was not a traditional marketplace where transportation planners could bid on shippers’ shipments. Instead, Quicargo used smart heuristics to match the right shipper to the right carriers, which ensured efficient and targeted matching of supply and demand.
The paperless digital platform would reduce procurement and transportation costs for shippers and transaction costs in the supply chain. Standard links with Sendcloud, Paazl, Picqer, and various ERP systems (Oracle, Exact, and Microsoft Dynamics) were realized.
Shippers are showing a growing interest in transport mediation, which resulted in annual double-digit growth rates for Quicargo. Currently, Quicargo serves more than 2.500 active and satisfied customers and over 100 committed carriers. Shippers use Quicargo for small shipments ranging from packages to single pallets.
As an advisory board member, I could watch the platform’s development. Quicargo had and still has the potential to transform the transportation industry by improving minimum margins and making truck trips more efficient. The transportation industry lags in digital supply chain innovations, even though these innovations can significantly affect the bottom line. Quicargo pursued commercial goals that contributed to societal goals, making them relevant and urgent. Although the platform initially met with some skepticism, companies that tried it later often became loyal users.
The future of transport marketplaces
The financial landscape for logistics innovations has recently taken a hit, with international investors reluctant to put funds into transportation platforms. Last year, market leaders Instafreight and Convoy closed down, while Flexport was in a precarious situation. Consequently, Quicargo is now facing similar challenges.
The European transport organization IRU advocates further efficiency improvements in road transport as a crucial step toward greater sustainability. Transparency and automated data sharing are essential for this, and the deferment of payment of Quicargo is, therefore, regrettable.
Market experts Dweep Chanana and Wolfgang Lehmacher wrote in Trans.info about transport platforms:
“The industry shakeout that we witnessed in 2023 is not the end of digital forwarding, but rather the next phase and opportunity to focus on and consolidate what is important to eventually bring significant change to a complex industry with a high level of inertia resisting change. From the ashes of the 1st generation of digital forwarders, we expect to see a stronger crop of digital-first players emerging, with the staying power and characteristics needed to disrupt the industry status quo.
These second-generation digital forwarders might not be quite as “cool” as the previous re-inventers of logistics but will have much more impact at the end. Most importantly, experienced and skilled supply chain and logistics professionals, and business experts will have an even bigger role to play going forward. Downplaying the human factor was a key failing of many of the 1st generation of digital forwarders”.
Path to Resolution
Quicargo is taking a proactive stance by viewing the unexpected situation as a strategic opportunity to initiate constructive discussions with creditors and stakeholders. According to management, the company maintains a positive outlook, believing that collaborative efforts will lead to successful restructuring and funding, ultimately securing a more robust future. This approach is geared towards navigating the current challenges to ensure sustained success.
Quicargo CEO Avishai Trabelsi, “We firmly believe that the industry’s imperative for digitalization and collaboration has never been more urgent.” He acknowledges challenges in operational and financial workflows, data standardization, and defining responsibilities between Quicargo and its carrier partners. Quicargo envisions Quicargo 2.0 with a renewed emphasis on technology, standardized data, and creating collaborative opportunities. The company seeks to bridge the readiness gap on the supply side and redefine its business model to better cater to the changing demands of the logistics sector.
I wish the involved employees and management strength in the upcoming weeks, and I hope for a relaunch of the platform with new partners. The team has worked incredibly hard and learned much over the past years.
Walther Ploos van Amstel.