Looking back at the past two years, one of the big lessons learned is that companies can no longer afford to stand on the sidelines of digital transformation. This applies to shippers, carriers, freight brokers, and others in the industry. As we move forward in 2023 and beyond, how will technology help facilitate and improve the way shippers, carriers, and freight brokers work together? And how will it help strengthen business relationships and deliver benefits to all stakeholders? Those are the main questions I discussed with Will Maurer, Region Lead at NAPA Transportation, and Kyler Ford, Chief Revenue Officer at Trucker Tools, on a recent episode of Talking Logistics.
Matching Capacity with Demand
Matching freight capacity with demand quickly and efficiently has always been a challenge, but this is an area when technology can help. I asked Will what led NAPA to look for a technology solution to better match freight demand with carrier capacity.
Will explains that two of their challenges were finding day-of capacity for lanes where they don’t have established carriers or for situations where additional customer volumes are beyond their normal carriers’ capacity. “We needed a technology solution to help us find capacity to meet these needs,” he says. “While we value a relationship model in working with our carriers to match loads with capacity, when we need that extra capacity or coverage for new lanes, we needed capabilities that Trucker Tools gives us to find new carriers. It provides us with broader visibility to capacity and also streamlines execution to push more freight through the system efficiently.”
The Carrier View
I asked Kyler how carriers view this technology. He notes that people like to deal with technology that makes their lives easier, whether that’s booking a flight, finding a hotel, or matching loads. “While carriers tend to initially be reluctant to try new technology, once they see how easy it is to use and how it aids their relationship with brokers, they actually prefer to engage digitally,” Kyler states. “And the auto-negotiation piece gives them some control, with the ability to negotiate rather than accept a static number. At the end of the day, they want to reduce the number of phone calls they have to make as well.”
Benefits of Load Matching Technology
So, what are the benefits of load matching technology for brokers, carriers and customers? Will comments that an advantage for truckers is they can see and book loads 24/7 on the app when broker staff may not be available.
For NAPA, the ability to see and book carriers for their hard-to-cover loads makes their job easier and more efficient. Customers can be more confident when assigning loads to NAPA that the loads will be covered, leading to more business directed to NAPA that may otherwise go to other brokers. “Load acceptance is important to customers and having the confidence when we accept loads that we will be able to find carriers is critical for us,” says Will.
Evaluating Digital Freight Matching Solutions
Since the benefits for brokers in employing digital freight matching solutions are clear, the question becomes how to evaluate the solutions out there. Kyler comments that before companies start looking at solutions, they should first examine their digital strategy and how it fits with their business model, culture, and customer base. That will define what to look for.
Kyler notes that more “old-school” companies may take a more limited approach to enabling digital transactions, but they can still gain benefits by augmenting their staffing needs, for example. Meanwhile, more tech-savvy companies may employ a wider range of technologies to leverage their digital strategies and carrier base. “It’s not one size fits all,” Kyler says. “You have to take bits and pieces to create a solution that best fits your organization.
“Therefore, look for a solution that’s flexible, that integrates well with your TMS, and that has APIs available to seamlessly integrate with in-house needs. Lastly, make sure the return on investment (ROI) is pretty evident.”
How to Get Started
I wrapped up our discussion by asking Will and Kyler how companies should get started with their digital transformation journey and what factors will lead to success. They shared some great insights on how to engage your organization, staff, carriers and customers in the process and the factors involved. Therefore, I encourage you to watch the full episode for all the details. Then keep the conversation going by posting a comment with your questions and perspective on this topic.