The United States is experiencing a capacity crisis — with roughly 10 loads to be shipped for every easily accessible truck — and shippers are scrambling to be able to service their customers without breaking the bank on every shipment.
This doesn’t mean that there isn’t capacity available, however. What it means is that shippers need new ways to find and book available capacity without wasting hours on the phone with carriers.
We know that there is available capacity out there. It’s a fact that many fleets are running thousands of miles empty on return journeys when they could be picking up backhaul freight. Many truckload carriers have capacity to fill as well, but finding the freight opportunities can be just as difficult and time consuming for carriers as it is for shippers to locate capacity. The challenge is in forming connections with as many different potential partners as possible and being able to access them in a quick and efficient manner.
The solution lies in truckload spot markets powered by vast logistics communities. The more supply chain companies within the community, the more potential opportunities for collaboration. These communities act as a single source for shippers and brokers to access a huge network of trucks that can provide attractive rates and a new, valuable source for truckload capacity. By leveraging a truckload spot market, shippers and brokers can quickly make connections to carriers and fleets with available capacity.
The concept of truckload spot markets, however, is nothing new for our industry. They’ve failed to address the capacity crisis in the past because there hasn’t been a “sticky factor” to keep shippers and carriers engaged with the system. If companies aren’t living and breathing the truckload spot market every day, it’s unlikely they will leverage it when potential opportunities arise.
A sticky factor that works is having the truckload spot market built directly on top of a transportation management system (TMS). When shippers are living in a TMS every day, it’s natural for them to pivot onto a spot market that’s built alongside their negotiated rates. When they have a shipment that isn’t satisfactorily covered by a negotiated rate, they can query the truckload spot market to receive back quotes on their freight and continue through their TMS to book that rate. This helps both carriers and fleets fill empty trailers and shippers to battle the capacity crisis.
Shippers and brokers who are looking to find available truckload capacity should leverage a truckload spot market built upon an ecosystem of dedicated truckload carriers. This ecosystem will provide more rates for side-by-side comparison so that the most attractive rate can be booked every time. Instead of calling and emailing known carrier partners to ask for rates, a process which is inefficient and time consuming, companies can leverage truckload spot markets to quickly connect them with available capacity.
The capacity crisis is likely to worsen over the next several years. Baby Boomers who currently make up the majority of truck drivers will continue to reach retirement age and customer expectations will increase alongside the popularity of e-commerce.
It’s up to individual companies to battle the capacity crisis. Some will expand their teams to accommodate increasingly complex logistics and others will leverage technology in conjunction with truckload spot markets to supplement their negotiated rates.
Dan Clark is president and founder of Kuebix.
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