Europe thrives on the single internal market. Yet despite efficiencies in transportation, infrastructure and market integration, the logistics sector remains a weak link. “In Europe, logistics is not optimised and is grossly inefficient, and the entire internal market suffers because of it,” says David Benedik, sales manager at IDL Logistika, a Slovenian cargo and logistics company. “For example, operators struggle to find a warehouse, truckers experience delays, and warehouse service providers are nowhere near full capacity.” To help streamline the situation, the EU-funded WarehouseBook project, which is coordinated by IDL Logistika, set out to develop an online database where logistics planners can book a warehouse on demand. “Essentially, we created an Airbnb-style system for warehouse and storage space rental,” adds Benedik.
An online booking platform
Logistics companies have traditionally depended on direct contacts to secure warehouse space. But this becomes a challenge when cargo is transported across borders. “We noticed that transport companies were ill-equipped to handle delivery and shipment problems that happen away from home,” explains Benedik. “This is where we got the idea to develop a European-wide solution.” Project researchers began by talking to logistics and cargo companies to better understand their challenges and needs. They also conducted research on available tracking systems, required documentation, legal standards and VAT regulations. From this research, the WarehouseBook team realised that the best solution would be an online platform. “We learned that what the sector needed was an easy-to-use, one-stop shop for finding and booking warehouse space,” says Benedik. “And the easiest way to do this was with an online booking platform.”
Called StoringCargo, the new website lets users search for and book warehouse space for their cargo and instantly calculate costs. “To book warehouse space, all a user needs to do is search for a warehouse, describe their cargo, and make the reservation,” adds Benedik. “Once the reservation is made, the customer gets all the details and instructions via email.” For those wishing to rent out warehouse space, the site uses an easy, 11-step registration and verification process. The warehouse can then make their space available not only to transport and logistics companies, but also to manufacturers. Payment is automatically initiated once the cargo leaves the warehouse. A unique feature on the site is instant booking of EUR pallets, a feature that Benedik says saves customers time. “Because EUR pallets are standard in all European logistics, we are able to provide instant booking – a key differentiator for our site,” he notes. “Our system also generates proof of deliveries with online signatures.”
The project team is now promoting the use of the StoringCargo site amongst the European logistics sector. “It has been challenging to ensure our targeted audience knows not only about the site, but also what it does and how it benefits them,” explains Benedik. Despite this challenge, the site already has 150 verified warehouses listed in 22 countries, and another 100 waiting for verification. It also has nearly 350 active users – a number that continues to rise. “We believe that StoringCargo will have a huge impact on the logistics sector, and we’re anxious to spread our service to all parts of the globe,” adds Benedik.
WarehouseBook, StoringCargo, logistics, warehouse, cargo, transportation, single internal market