Category Insights & Outlook 2023 h2





Logistics markets have experienced a high degree of volatility following the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and, more recently, the supply chain fallout from the Russia-Ukraine war. 

H1 2023 saw markets begin to stabilize, and ocean, road, and air freight rates decrease, with the former even falling back to pre-pandemic levels. In ocean transport, port bottlenecks have eased; in road haulage, driver shortages – though still an issue – have also moderated. Meanwhile, fuel costs have declined across all markets, with energy markets in a comparatively positive position versus 2022.*

On the consumer demand side, a slower-than-expected recovery from China, along with high inflation and resultant increase in interest rates in key markets such as the US, has pushed down global trade and increased capacity. These trends have persisted into Q3 2023, with continued soft demand and stronger supply increasing capacity across ocean, air, and road freight.

Note that this data and related contents refer to circumstances as at end of September 2023.

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Future outlook

Short term outlook

The impacts of the pandemic and Russia-Ukraine war are gradually ceasing to affect transport and logistics, however factors such as geopolitical conflicts, sanctions and shifting trends in supply chain are continuing to subject a certain level of uncertainty on the logistics category. 

  • The transport and logistics sector is anticipating a growth of 4% in 2023 and a further 3% in 2024, albeit still being affected by the ongoing war in Ukraine and a slower-than-expected recovery of global demand, particularly from China.
  • Supply chain resilience remains top priority for shippers and consequently they are continuing to maintain high buffer stocks to help mitigate supply chain disruption; we recommend that contract logistics take advantage of that.
  • We are also seeing a trend in shippers moving towards providing more end-to-end supply chain services rather than just transportation, as seen with the likes of Maersk and MSC.

Medium term

  • Environmental regulations and sustainability – Emphasis on greener supply chains will continue to grow as companies approach their target net zero dates. Governments are introducing clean air or low emission zones in cities to enforce more parameters to logistics companies. ​In London, the Ultra Low Emission Zone was extended to cover the entire city as of August 2023. Increasing focus on sustainability alongside fluctuating crude oil prices has driven companies to invest in Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) and develop new aircraft designs to reduce carbon emissions by approximately 80%. 
  • Technology – We expect to see continued investments in technology to help firms with supply chain visibility; for example, focus on track-and-trace systems to improve agile decision-making when challenges arise.​
  • Last-mile deliveries – With the boom in e-commerce, innovative solutions will be explored to meet consumer delivery demands. We expect to see more popularity in the usage of drones and e-vehicles to manage final-mile deliveries.​

Dos, Don'ts, and Best Practices


  • Have transparency over planned transports, capacities, and relevant routes.
  • Create strategic relationships; join an alliance to secure capacities. 
  • Optimize fill rates; reduce impact on Cost of Goods Sold (COGS).
  • Run an impact assessment, understand your spend/budget, and estimate exposure.
  • Retender road freight (post analysis).
  • Start exploring environmentally friendly options to avoid falling behind; consider introducing charging stations when investing in company infrastructure.


  • Do not rely on old and outdated information without monitoring news and trends.
  • Do not source all capacities on the spot market without strategic relationships. 
  • Do not give all volumes to one freight forwarder.
  • Do not accept price increases from freight forwarders “as is” – there is ample room for negotiation given recent price decreases.


  • Secure logistics capacity:
    o    Add flexibility to handle volatility.
  • Cost management:
    o    Optimize transport nodes on total cost comparison.
    o    Check the financial viability of suppliers.
    o    Get transparency of cost drivers.
    o    Audit invoices for surcharges and discrepancies.
  • Distribution network design:
    o    Flex network design as patterns change.
    o    Review supply chain nodes.

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