When building a freight strategy, put information technology first

It has long been said that the information about a shipment is just as important as the shipment itself. Technology plays a central role in everything. From planning the load, to booking the driver and truck, to monitoring the shipment’s status all the way to the end customer, to spotting and correcting unexpected problems (known in the trade as exceptions), and to tracing the source of persistent service issues, it is impossible to succeed in the 21st century freight business without robust information technology tools. Much of the truckload business, and an increasingly large part of the less-than-truckload sector, is handled by freight brokers, third parties that match shipper loads with available capacity, set the prevailing rates, and keep tabs on the goods from end to end. Connecting multiple parties working in the vast and complex U..S. freight network with the right information at the right time demands the very best in technological capabilities. There may be places for your business to cut corners, but technology is not one of them. The good news is that the freight industry, which was never a first-mover in technology adoption, is playing a serious game of catch-up. The industry is being flooded with new and innovative systems that promise user-friendly, hyper-functional hardware and software. For example, companies using our systems know that we seamlessly connect shippers, brokers, drivers, trucks and end users with real-time information that can be tracked in mapping format from any device. It is remarkable that we take for granted that a shipper in Phoenix can view, up to the minute, the status of freight picked up in Shreveport, La. for a move to Des Moines. Just as important, we keep everyone in the loop. As consumers, we all know how frustrating it is not to have real-time visibility of an order, and not be aware that a problem has occurred that might delay the delivery or require a contingency move. Whether we ship and haul freight for a living, or are a consumer of delivered goods, we know that mistakes happen. What we want is to be notified of the problem and the work-around. It may sound counter-intuitive, but one of the best ways to drive repeat business is for a customer to have transparency about a problem and any changes in delivery schedules. What they don’t want is to be blind-sided. The days are long gone of shippers, brokers and consignees waiting for their freight without any visibility into its status. Amazon.com has conditioned everyone in its world not to accept the old way of delivery. That mindset is extending into the freight industry.
When moving your freight, just keep it simple For shippers, navigating today’s trucking market has never been more challenging. Demand for goods is soaring. Truck capacity is ultra-tight and will continue that way due to an acute shortage of commercial truck drivers. Spot-market rates have spiked, and are now being followed by double-digit increases in contract rates. In addition, properly vetting the available carriers--a process known as on-boarding--can be complex and time-consuming. When building a freight strategy, put information technology first It has long been said that the information about a shipment is just as important as the shipment itself. Technology plays a central role in everything. From planning the load, to booking the driver and truck, to monitoring the shipment’s status all the way to the end customer, to spotting and correcting unexpected problems (known in the trade as exceptions), and to tracing the source of persistent service issues, it is impossible to succeed in the 21st century freight business without robust information technology tools.