Until recently, their names were known only by people who had bulky goods or urgent consignments to send. But now, firms such as Flexport, Uship, Uber Freight and Freighthub are transforming the freight and courier industries in the same way that Uber transformed the minicab business and Airbnb the hotel trade.
The firms allow users to book shipments of goods around the world without having to contact and directly book with independent freight operators.
If the start-ups are successful, traditional freight forwarders and courier companies could soon become endangered species.
The extent to which start-ups like Flexport have the potential to disrupt the traditional business model of German logistics firms such as Rhenus, Nagel or Hellmann has been the object of a new study by the consulting firm Oliver Wyman.
The days when logistics firms were synonymous with the smell of diesel fuel, sea salt, fork-lift trucks and wooden palettes are long gone. Logistics is now sexy and is attracting modern investors.