Over the last decade, pretty much every aspect of moving freight has been changed by the swift introduction of industry-specific technology. GPS accuracy has been enhanced, ELDs helped promote visibility as a key KPI and tracking systems and expectations have been implemented. Booking is no exception. The digital tools and instant booking apps of today are a far cry from the physical load boards that once lived inside truck stops.
Technology trickled into the booking scene slowly, and it was first met with resistance. Around 2014, carriers were expected to start regularly implementing technology in their day-to-day by taking pictures on their phones to digitally document activity vs. traditional fax. By 2019, there was an app for everything; carriers grew weary of new downloads fairly quickly and “app overload” dominated industry discussions.
The pandemic’s impact on supply and demand coupled with an organic shift of behaviors helped promote the use of technology with companies offering paperless options for BOLs, 24/7 access to freight online and channels of communication outside of a traditional phone call. Carriers of all fleet sizes and specialties embraced technology with renewed fervency in the face of COVID-19. To navigate a roller-coaster market, they were determined to utilize every tool available to them. In turn, technology providers have placed renewed emphasis on convenience and efficiency, pushing their tools to perform more functions and greater value. Booking portals are a prime example.
While this newfound flexibility was fueled by the crisis, carriers and drivers’ adoption to technology have provided a window to the advantages it offers in a post-pandemic world. In this way, the crisis worked as a catalyst for moving the industry forward.
“Technology really has changed how we do business. The transition to working with more technology and spending less time on the phone has been going on for a while now, but COVID took it up a notch,” said Steve Stoyanov, Vice President of Sales at Amerifreight Systems, a family-run trucking business with more than 500 trucks.
Freight portals make doing business easier to streamline processes by integrating various tools, like load boards and visibility solutions, with a digital freight-booking solution. This makes it possible for users to find, book and manage loads with a click of a button, eliminating the need to switch between various platforms or communication channels with their partners.
“Booking freight used to be phone-based, but now the portals are the way to go,” said Stoyanov. “People can now do a lot more in a shorter period of time. If it were not for portals, we would have had a harder time getting the job done in a remote work environment. A team working off their cells with no second line would have really struggled to do business without technology. Many members of my team only chat with their reps online rather than using their phones.”
Arrive’s carrier portal also allows carriers to access available freight on the go, submit counter offers without having to pick up the phone and submit paperwork upon delivery. These features are provided to carriers without asking them to sacrifice service or give up live support; they can still access their representatives whenever needed or preferred; providing their direct contact information within the portal as well.
“Arrive’s carrier portal offers many benefits to enhance the ease of doing business, making it a true investment into relationships with our carriers,” Chief Technology Officer for Arrive Logistics Michael Senftleber said. “Carriers now have the ability to do business with us however they choose – whether that’s talking directly with their rep on the phone or easily managing their freight completely online.”
Eliminating the administrative burden but also still having the capability to get on the phone with a sales rep is the perfect balance for carriers like Amerifreight Systems. Stoyanov values maintaining strong, personal relationships and has been working with his Arrive rep, Pat Vallely, for years.
“Sometimes it is not about the rate, it is about the relationship. Pat is always overdelivering,” said Stoyanov. “When a problem occurs, he solves it. Because of Arrive’s carrier portal, we now both have more time on our hands. I know Pat has more time to sell, and I have more time to manage my fleet and dispatchers.”
Carriers are embracing the ease of booking portals with minimal hesitancy. Many are beginning to see the advantages of early technology adoption in their own operations from on-demand revenue to quicker payment settlement. This can be attributed to a combination of increased acceptance of technology, the ease of implementation and the general usefulness of the solutions.
“Everyone is open to using online portals if they are built well. There is no reason to resist,” Stoyanov said. “It helps you understand details of the freight that you might forget to ask over the phone. If there are any special requirements, you read them right away. The way we book freight is continuing to transition to a more digital layout.”
Moving freight booking and management further into the digital realm also helps carriers save time, reduce hassle, move more freight and ultimately, meet and exceed their revenue goals. Embracing technology has a tangible and immediate impact on a fleet’s performance, making it more important than ever for carriers who want to stay competitive to explore their options.
“We do triple the volume now as the workflow is a lot more streamlined,” Stoyanov said. “We can book 10 loads in the time it would take to book one load on the phone. In the first month alone, when Arrive’s carrier portal was still being tested, I personally booked 60 loads.”
Photo Credit: Jim Allen/FreightWaves, original article published here.