Give us a missed call on

+91 626 955 5606


Table of Contents

The freight forwarding industry in India is an important leg in facilitating international trade and logistics. It simplifies shipping of goods and acts as an intermediary between businesses and transporters. The logistics sector is a key contributor to India’s GDP and freight forwarders are cementing their share, especially with the rise in demand for global e-Commerce. As a small business owner, it’s beneficial to understand the nuances and dynamics of the freight forwarding industry and its role in building a seamless supply chain ecosystem across customs, regulations, and compliance frameworks.

Logistics

Freight forwarding industry in India – Overview

Freight forwarding is a key logistics function in India. With the growth in cross-border trade, not surprisingly the demand for freight forwarding has also accelerated.

Market size and outlook:

As per a report published by Mordor Intelligence, the freight forwarding and logistics industry market size in India is estimated to be USD 317.26 billion in 2024.

Further, growing at a CAGR of 8.83%, the market size for the forecast period i.e., 2024 – 2029, is expected to reach USD 484.43 billion by 2029.

This is comparatively higher than the previous years i.e., 2017 – 2023, that had a CAGR of 8.15%.

Some other observations from the report:

  • In 2022, around 90.35% share was taken up by non-temperature controlled segment in warehousing
  • For 2023-2029, the projected CAGR for temperature controlled warehousing segment is 9.03%
  • The domestic segment still occupies the majority share of CEP segment by destination – i.e., almost 66.33% in 2022

For more details on the report by Mordor Intelligence, visit their website: mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/india-freight-logistics-market/market-size#:~:text=India%20Freight%20and%20Logistics%20Market%20Analysis,period%20(2024%2D2029).

Top freight forwarding companies in India

Let’s take a look at some of the top freight forwarding companies in India in 2024.

Freight forwarding company name Main services provided
DHL Express (India) Pvt. Ltd. International express delivery, global freight forward, mail deliveries, warehousing solutions
DTDC Express Limited Domestic and international express courier services
GATI Ltd. Express supply chain solutions, e-Commerce logistics
Allcargo Logistics Ltd. NVOCC, container freight station operations, warehousing, logistics parks, inland container depots
FedEx Freight forwarding, international express delivery, logistics services

The Indian freight forwarding sector is undergoing significant transformation, led by digitalisation, infrastructure development, and global trade. Some of the pivotal freight forwarding industry trends in India that’s reshaping how international trade is being conducted are:

1. Digital transformation and adoption of advanced technology

The adoption of AI and IoT and other digital technologies has been a game changer for the logistics sector. Freight forwarding companies today are leveraging platforms and digital tools across all functions to streamline operations, stay compliant, and drive efficiency. Apart from focusing on automation, the intent is moving more towards building a transparent and connected ecosystem for supply chain visibility.

From the ease of online booking to real-time tracking, online billing and documentation, route optimisation, data analytics and more, the freight forwarding industry landscape is revolutionising. Digitalisation has helped freight forwarders to simplify compliance and regulatory requirements, reduce paperwork and keep transactions transparent.

Some other examples of digitalisation in the freight forwarders industry are:

  • Emergence of online marketplaces and shipment booking platforms enabling freight forwarding companies to find the best deals, better quotes, optimised routes for their customers.
  • Use of AI and ML models to predict shipping delays, manage inventory, and provide optimised route solutions. Blockchain and Smart Contracts are being used for secure transactions and keep record of every transaction made.
  • Integration of IoT devices to check on the condition of goods during transit. This is more so for goods travelling across long distances, or being unloaded-loaded at different points, or goods requiring temperature control transportation, such as pharmaceuticals. (Also read: Cold chain logistics – What it means in logistics)

2. Sustainability solutions

Sustainability is high on India’s priorities and all sectors are being encouraged to adopt sustainable, environment-friendly solutions.

Eco-friendly logistics solutions are no longer good-to-have. It’s becoming a necessity as more businesses are conducting global trade. As there is growing awareness, top logistics and freight companies are focusing on innovation eco-friendly packaging solutions and green logistics to reduce carbon footprints and reduce costs.

Some other examples of how the freight forwarding sector is adopting sustainability in logistics operations are:

Logistics
  • Switching to green warehousing, using solar panels, energy-efficient lighting, and rainwater harvesting systems.
  • Adopting electric vehicles for road transport to reduce greenhouse gas emission. This is aligned to India’s sustainability vision as there is focused attention and investment being made in building infrastructure for EV expansion (e.g., EV charging stations)
  • Using biodegradable, reuseable and recyclable packaging material over traditional packaging solutions to reduce the use of plastic and other non-sustainable materials.

3. Custom freight forwarding services

The Indian freight forwarding industry is also witnessing a rise in the demand for custom freight solutions. This allows businesses more flexibility and tailor services with precision, specific to sectors.

Some examples of how freight companies are customising their services are:

  • Designing special cold chain logistics solutions for addressing the need for temperature-controlled transportation and warehousing, and temperature monitoring for the pharmaceutical, food processing, and other sectors.
  • Innovating automotive logistics solutions using Just-in-Time delivery in manufacturing to reduce lead time and maintain production schedules. Freight forwarders are also adopting smart strategies for shipment especially of high-value vehicles and delicate automobile components.

4. E-commerce expansion

The e-commerce sector boom has been the single most factor to propel the growth of the freight forwarding industry in India. From rise in international orders, to drop shipping, first mile and last mile delivery, there has been innovation at every stage of freight services with reference to e-Commerce shipping.

As per the report by Mordor Intelligence, the e-Commerce sector witnessed rapid growth at 3.76% YoY in 2022. The most popular segments were the food and beverage segment and personal and household.

Fright forwarding companies in India are implementing innovative strategies to provide efficient, quick and reliable delivery services. Some of the examples of innovations in e-Commerce by freight companies include:

  • Optimising first mile and last mile delivery services to meet production timelines and enhance customer satisfaction, such as using AI tools to identify optimal delivery routes and providing real-time delivery updates.
  • Building a hyperlocal delivery system network utilising local resource, logistics hubs and micro fulfilment centres for speed, efficiency, and local knowledge. (Also read: E-Commerce fulfilment – Services and warehousing solutions in India)
  • Integrating diverse e-Commerce functions into one platform to manage activities across warehousing, order processing, shipping and returns management. (Also read: Integrated logistics – How it works and benefits businesses?)

These highlight the various market trends in the freight forwarding sector and how companies are scaling their operations and technology adoption to emerge as an indispensable part of the Indian logistics ecosystem.

Challenges in the Indian freight forwarding sector

The logistics sector comes with its unique challenges – and the challenges in the freight forwarding sector are no different. Whether it is related to compliance and knowhow for starting your own freight forwarding business or lack of adequate infrastructure development for steadfast growth, there are numerous obstacles to face.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the common Indian freight forwarding industry challenges:

  • Adherence to regulations and compliance: Whether it’s related to issuance of a FCR in shipping or the bill of lading document, or any other, the regulatory, compliance and legal framework in international shipping is intricate. Customs procedures and timelines across ports can vary leading to delays and additional expenses. Freight companies therefore need to prioritise staying updated on any new regulations to stay compliant and ensure speedy and hassle-free clearances.
  • Uneven infrastructure development: The scale of infrastructure development across rural and urban sectors is uneven, often causing limitations in goods transportation. Through innovative schemes, such as PMGSY and others, the government is bringing improvement, especially to lessen unkept or congested roads, improve connectivity in rural sectors, and improve facilities at ports. This naturally impacts the pace at which freight forwarders can function, their reach, and scale of operations.
  • Fuel price fluctuations: Though many freight companies are switching to energy-efficient alternative fuel solutions, the majority of road transportation services run on fuel. The volatility of fuel prices directly impact costs especially for sectors with large volumes of goods for transportation, e.g., manufacturing sector, construction sector, e-Commerce, automobile sector. This poses a challenge in a market where transportation costs are already considered higher than average.

Freight forwarding of tomorrow

Marked by rapid growth and transformation, the freight forwarding industry in India presents a promising picture. It’s set to become more automated, customer-centric and transparent to streamline operations, track the movement of goods, and improve overall supply chain operations.

Green logistics solutions and sustainability will also feature as a key component as businesses get more conscious of the environment. E-Commerce moreover will also encourage the sector to introduce sophisticated solutions driven by new technologies, data and research.

However, in order to maximise the sector’s output, a focused and collaborative approach has to be taken by freight forwarding companies and the government, to build and seal a strong, resilient, and growing future.

Looking for logistics services for your shipment? You can now avail part truck load services at the best rates. At Logistics on Tata nexarc we have partnered with leading logistics service providers and offer PTL shipment at competitive prices across India. To know more, get in touch now.

*The article is for informational purpose only and subject to change. Readers are requested to check with individual freight forwarders for more details and research any specific requirements.

Sohini Banerjee

Sohini is a seasoned content writer with 12 years’ experience in developing marketing and business content across multiple formats. At Tata nexarc, she leverages her skills in crafting curated content on the Indian MSME sector, steel procurement, and logistics. In her personal time, she enjoys reading fiction and being up-to-date on trends in digital marketing and the Indian business ecosystem.