According to the topic “Customers, Corporates or Startups – who is actually doing the innovation”, Harald Geimer (PWC), Peter Trapp (Startport), Oliver Kaut (DHL) and Prof. Dr. Thomas Wimmer (BVL) discussed innovation in the logistics sector at the Hypermotion (Frankfurt).

An audience survey showed the following result:

Startups lead the way with over 40%.


Although the panel participants expected the ranking positions, they are surprised by the extent.

Startups often have the necessary, unblemished view from the outside. With fast and agile work, startups create a new product, a new service or even a new market in the shortest time. Due to its size and often small budget, the innovation might only reach target customers sluggishly.

In contrast, large companies have the budget and investment capital to acquire a critical mass. Often, however, internal processes are not suitable for generating and implementing new ideas. Many companies then form corporate startups that work – isolated from the parent company – on the development and implementation of the idea. The crux, however, would be to bring the outsourced startup back into the large company, Geimer said.

Wimmer sees logistics providers as very innovative because they have to constantly adapt to customer requirements. Although logistics providers do not have the reputation of being innovation-savvy, they are “secretly” innovative. A logistics provider must have a certain degree of flexibility in order to be able to assert itself on the market. Geimer refers to a study conducted by PWC in which only about a quarter of all logistics providers claim to be innovative. The reason is usually something like “Our customers are not as demanding yet”. From his consulting experience, however, Geimer can say that customers demand innovation. With regard to innovation, logistics providers are reactive, not proactive.

When it comes to questions about the future, DHL sees a large influence of the customer on logistics. The customer dictates what logistics can look like. Kauz can imagine that consumers will form a “circle” in the distant future. They do not want to be supplied hourly, but may choose a logistician themselves or even pick up the delivered goods once a week at a collection point.

As a teaching professor, Wimmer attaches importance to the universities. However, there is still a lot of untapped potential to bring innovation from research institutions to industry.


Which characteristics must (logistics) companies possess in order to be innovative?

According to Trapp, logistics providers must invest in innovation in order to remain competitive and innovative. They must also be open to change, as customers are constantly changing. Generation change in companies also comes into play here. If the former logistics manager retires and is replaced by a 30-year-old, the demands of the B2B customer on the service provider quickly change.

There is also an increasing pressure for transparency. Customers want transparency in price calculation, but of course also in the execution of their transports – the keyword is Track & Trace. The future belongs to transparency.

The challenge would then be to link the customer’s wishes with the internal processes. The goal should be to create an efficient market. As an example, Trapp mentions the purchase of shares: “When I buy a share today, I have full transparency. But if I want to get a transport price, there’s hardly any transparency.”


All parties at one table

But who is driving innovation?

The panel participants agree: all parties must work together. Large companies, for example, would have the necessary capital to promote start-up ideas and thus jointly create innovation. In addition, access to start-ups must also be made easier for medium-sized companies. The common table, which is metaphorically spoken of, would stand with the customer.