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The logistics of the shared economy

RiskSupplier relationship managementSupply chain financeContract managementLogisticsCost and Cash ManagementSupply DisruptionTravel and Logistics+-

First there was Airbnb. Then there was Uber. Now warehouse and storage facilities are getting in on the opportunities presented by the shared economy.


The sharing economy has changed the face of the business world over the last five to 10 years. No longer do businesses need to own a product to make money from it. Connecting and helping people share their resources is bringing prices of taking a taxi or renting a holiday home down. And that is filtering through to the logistics and storage industry, which presents opportunities for procurement.

Flexe has a network of warehouses based across North America offering over 400,000 rentable pallet spaces. The service works by allowing businesses with unused warehouse space to connect to those who need that space. It is essentially a pay-as-you-go service, enabling order fulfilment and eliminating the high costs of leasing an entire warehouse.



It has proved particularly popular with retailers. Demand for the goods those businesses sell is impacted by seasonal trends when additional warehouse space is required to fulfil orders. Needing extra storage space for a limited time, a pay-as-you-go model is much more economical than owning another warehouse.


Due to popular demand, the organisation has grown from a portfolio of 100 warehouses in 2015 to over 370 in 2016.


As well as seasonality, this shared model can also help reduce risk by allowing goods to either be stored or passed through that warehouse at short notice.


The opportunities of the shared economy don’t end here though.


Manufacturers are looking at the potential to share assembly lines as well as trucks, opening up further opportunities to save money and make the supply chain more efficient.


With shared resources and online platforms to help businesses in the logistics space on the rise, and the world’s sharing economy estimated to reach $300bn over the next decade, there are revenue streams to uncover.


The challenge will be to make those work for the business and to ensure that the savings are passed up from suppliers.


This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.

Rachel Sharp
Posted by Rachel Sharp