Purpose: Digital freight forwarder (DFF) start-ups and their associated business models have gained increasing attention within both academia and industry. However, there is a lack of empirical research investigating the differences between DFFs and traditional freight forwarders (TFF) and the impact of digital start-ups on incumbents' companies. In response, this study aims to examine the key business model characteristics that determine DFFs and TFFs and propose a framework illustrating the extent to which digital logistics start-ups influence incumbent logistics companies. Design/methodology/approach: Based on the primary data gathered from eight interviews with experts from start-ups' and incumbents' logistics companies, as well as secondary data, the authors identify the main factors of DFFs start-ups that have an impact on TFFs and analyze the similarities and differences in regard to the business model components' value proposition, value creation, value delivery and value capture. Findings: The results show that differences between DFFs and TFFs appear in all four business models' components: value proposition, value creation, value delivery and value capture. In particular, the authors identify three main factors that need to be considered when assessing the impact of DFFs on TFFs: (1) the company size, (2) the market cultivation strategy and (3) the transport mode. Originality/value: This is one of the first studies to specifically examine the key business model differences between DFFs and TFFs and to propose a conceptual framework for understanding the impact of digital logistics start-ups on incumbent companies.
- Business models
- Digital freight forwarders