The freight market has always been cyclical, impacted by many factors that require carriers, shippers and logistics service providers to continuously adjust in order to stay competitive. Right now, inflation and slowing economic growth are dominating the headlines, but soon other factors will require attention. How is the current state of the freight industry impacting logistics operations? What actions can companies take to successfully navigate these changing times? How can technology help? Those are the main questions I discussed with Winnie Barton, User Experience Manager at MegaCorp Logistics, and Kyler Ford, Chief Revenue Officer at Trucker Tools, in a recent episode of Talking Logistics.
A Changing Marketplace
For those who may not be familiar with MegaCorp Logistics, Winnie explains that they are a truckload, LTL, drayage and intermodal freight brokerage/logistics service provider with five U.S. offices, headquartered in Wilmington, N.C. They have a proprietary web-based TMS called Hero that is integrated with Trucker Tools.
I asked Winnie for her thoughts on the current state of the freight market. She notes that despite the disruptions during the pandemic, 2021 was a good year for most brokerages and carriers, with many adding new capacity to handle surging volumes. However, in 2022 there has been decreasing demand and increasing customer inventories. At the same time, costs are way up with higher diesel prices and maintenance costs.
“It’s been a super challenging environment for our carrier partners,” says Winnie. “We have been focused on helping our carriers with reloading opportunities and less deadhead miles for pickup locations, and Trucker Tools has been a great partner to help us do this with our carriers.
“Our shipper customers are doing quarterly RFPs rather than annual ones, and are being more selective with their carriers,” continues Winnie. “They are focused on cost savings and service.”
Kyler adds that their clients “are paying much more attention to the carrier experience because having those valued carriers at their disposal is what helps them win those RFPs and provide quality service that differentiates them from the competition. While last year brokers were focused on hiring and growth, this year they’re focused on processes and the systems their employees need to provide quality customer experiences.”
Supporting Carrier Partners
Winnie comments that carriers are the backbone of their industry and MegaCorp does everything it can to help them be successful. For example, technology enables faster document communication so carriers can get paid sooner. “And through Smart Capacity and Digital Freight Matching, carriers get access in real time to loads before they appear on the larger platforms.”
Kyler adds that carrier relationship management involves providing multiple seamless capabilities that enable carriers to quickly and easily conduct their business, whether that’s getting paid faster or booking their next load electronically without direct interaction with the broker. Also, the systems’ APIs allow seamless integration with other technologies. This benefits the brokers and carriers because they can work with multiple technologies as if it is one virtual system.
As an example of the advantage of APIs, Winnie mentions their Hero Connect customer portal’s integration to Trucker Tools gives their customers real-time access to the status and location of their loads.
Successfully Navigating 2022 and Beyond
Given the continually changing marketplace, I asked Winnie and Kyler how shippers, logistics service providers and carriers can successfully navigate the rest of 2022 and beyond. Winnie stresses that service and relationships are so important, and gives many examples of specific technology-enabled services, information and efficiencies they can provide.
And Kyler adds examples of how companies can use visibility and transparency to be proactive in helping customers react to changes and disruptions, as well as why digital strategy meetings are so important. For all of their insights and advice, I recommend that you watch the full episode. Then keep the conversation going by posting a comment and sharing your perspective on this topic.