Internet technologies have transformed countless industries ever since the Web browser came on the scene in 1994. The trucking industry has been lagging in technology adoption for the past 20 years. But starting several years ago, there has been a boom in technology innovation and adoption in the entire logistics ecosystem across all segments. In our space of digital load matching in trucking, there are probably a couple dozen known startups joining the spray, as well as large players investing heavily to automate or web-enable their operations. J.B.Hunt’s latest announcement of its marketplace, as well as Uber and Amazon’s upcoming offerings, prove beyond doubt that the future is here.
What’s happening in the logistics industry today reminds me of the online travel industry at its beginning in 1996, when Expedia is credited with starting the online travel industry. Very quickly, Travelocity, Orbitz, Priceline.com, Hotels.com et al. came afterward and changed the travel industry forever. What’s happening in our space is exactly like that. There is a lot of experimentation going on, with different features, business models, partnerships and relationships. I have blogged about our approach, benefits and differentiation previously.
All reports and surveys agree on the need of technology in the logistics industry, for two main reasons. In the trucking industry:
- it is notoriously inefficient with a semi-manual process consisting of a hodge podge of emails, spreadsheets, home-grown apps, and lots of yelling and aggravations for all participants. Less than 20% of participants use any TMS or load tender systems. A simple “where’s my shipment?” question from a customer may require 5 people (customer, broker rep and operations guy, dispatcher, driver) making round-robin calls resulting in “I’ll get back with you when I know” an hour later. This produces high costs and depresses productivity.
- The industry is fiercely competitive in an environment of squeezing margins. This is especially true of the commodity truck freight business, which has the lowest margins in the logistics industry.
So it’s quite simple, only the efficient will survive. Those who don’t adapt and change will die.
What the LoadExpress platform has provided is a level-playing field for small-medium shippers and carriers vs. their big competitors to take full advantage of benefits that technology has proven it can provide. To enjoy those benefits, users need to change their mindset and habits. The current process can be roughly described as “yell at the broker and hope he’ll take care of it. If he does, great. If not, yell at him some more.” They can’t continue to operate like that, and can’t continue to complain about their present plight without doing anything and expect things to improve. LoadExpress provides the proven technology to enable shippers and carriers to do their work more efficiently and cheaply, on their own and control the process. At LoadExpress, there is no one to yell at.