Technology is playing a growing role across the transportation management landscape, especially in the third-party logistics (3PL) and freight brokerage markets. On the one hand, you can argue that technology is disrupting the status quo. On the other hand, you can argue that it’s helping to level the playing field. How is technology helping brokers, especially small and mid-sized ones, remain competitive in the marketplace? That is the main question I discussed with Mark Boss, General Manager at LTI Delivers, and Prasad Gollapalli, Founder and CEO of Trucker Tools, during a recent episode of Talking Logistics.
Market differentiation at LTI
LTI Delivers is a non-asset freight brokerage firm that split off from an asset-based business in 2014. Though a relatively small broker (2019 revenue of approximately $17.5 million), it is growing rapidly. The company serves shippers across different industries and equipment types, including the food and automotive industries. Mark notes that because they are still affiliated with the larger asset-based firm, LTI Delivers is able to leverage its IT resources to provide a seamless technology experience for its customers, thus punching above their weight as a smaller broker.
The technology advantage
Prasad expands on Mark’s comments by explaining the three key roles for technology in brokerage. Prasad says the first role is capacity visibility and the ability to cover loads efficiently with digital freight matching. This process automation multiplies the effective workforce by enabling each broker to handle more business than manual processes would allow.
The second role is to provide shipment visibility. By automatically providing customers visibility to their shipments without brokers or truckers placing phone calls, technology levels the playing field for small brokers compared to their larger competitors. It also frees up brokers’ time and resources to handle more business and support growth.
The third role for technology is in automating invoicing. Invoice automation not only replaces manual effort, thus increasing efficiency, it also reduces the time spread between delivery and payment, which can be critical for small brokers.
Mark comments that the way Trucker Tools provides shipment visibility for LTI and directly for its customers was the main selling point for its selection. He also notes the capabilities the tool provides the drivers is key for its adoption. This builds trust for shippers and carriers, creating a win-win-win scenario.
One of the key challenges for technology providers is that brokers and shippers use a wide variety of transportation management systems (TMS) — everything from the latest modern systems to 30-year-old homegrown solutions. Trucker Tools approaches this challenge by working directly with customers to create the necessary integrations that are critical to customer success. They can then leverage those integration capabilities with future customers that have the same or similar systems.
Mark points out that they are also working with Prasad’s team to build integration to other platforms their customers require LTI to use. “We want our drivers to use the Trucker Tools app and have it feed the other tracking platforms. We also want the app to integrate with in-cab ELD devices for carriers that prefer we track them that way.”
Mark says they began the rollout of the solution by working with their dedicated fleet carriers since there was a vested interest on both sides for this to succeed. “It was fairly easy to get them to use the tool because of the two-way communications it offers. Drivers could see information such as where the loads are and scheduled pickup and delivery times, so it makes their jobs easier while providing the visibility our customers want,” he says. “We then went to our transactional carriers and again used the two-way communications capabilities as the selling point for them.”
Mark and Prasad shared a lot more insights about the future of technology for brokers and the benefits it offers. Therefore, I encourage you to watch the full episode for all the details. Then keep the conversation going by posting your own thoughts and experiences.