RFX Blog

Five Avenues for the Spot Freight Marketplace

October 2nd, 2014

Photo Credit: Todd Lappin |  Flickr Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Todd Lappin | Flickr Creative Commons

The spot freight marketplace is traditionally thought of as a public space where shippers, freight forwarders, freight brokers and motor carriers go to exchange freight services.  Back in the day, Dial-A-Truck was a one-stop shop for logistics providers.  A freight broker agent would make a phone call to Dial-A-Truck and announce an available load.  Motor carriers would call the same service to retrieve the information on that available load.  As we all know, nobody picks up the phone anymore to retrieve this information.  Dial-A-Truck adapted to the internet age and became simply DAT (then Transcore and now back to DAT).  Although public load boards are the most popular solution for the spot freight market, it is not the only solution.  In addition to load boards, we will explore alternative marketplaces for spot freight.

Public Load Boards –  DAT, Internet Truckstop, Get Loaded, 123 Loadboard, 10-4 Systems. All are unique.  DAT, for example, carries with it a long history and a well-established brand name in the industry, while 10-4 are the newcomers and provide a much different model by integrating real-time truck tracking and TMS data into their website for logistics providers to match available freight with the available trucks.  While public load boards are seen as the most traditional example of a spot freight marketplace, many brokers and motor carriers are finding other methods to share freight services.

Freight Broker Websites – As an alternative to the traditional public load boards, many freight brokers are posting their freight on their own website.  Not only is it a free service for brokers and carriers, but it also drives a large amount of web traffic to other areas of a freight broker’s website and creates an opportunity to build stronger relationships between the broker and motor carriers that otherwise might not be possible through public load boards.

Mobile – As an extension a freight broker’s private website load board, many logistics providers are also taking advantage of mobile technology. By piggybacking on the load board data available on a broker’s website, the broker can send the same information to a smartphone or tablet device for easy access from anywhere, especially a trucker’s sleeper cab.  This can be done either by a mobile app or simply a mobile-friendly version of the broker’s website, optimized to fit the dimensions of a smartphone or tablet.  Motor carriers can make phone calls directly from their mobile device using the information posted through a broker’s website and avoid the public load boards altogether and even bypass the competition that comes with high volume / high traffic sites such as DAT and Internet Truckstop.

Private Software Exchange – The latest trend that we are seeing are private exchanges between transportation companies and their TMS providers.  As an example, McLeod Software has developed their own private marketplace called the Carrier-Broker Exchange (the name is expected to change within the next year).  The private marketplace is exclusively developed for McLeod users who are able to post available freight and available trucks directly from their servers to a public exchange.  Brokers can tender loads to motor carriers electronically via this exchange.  Freight brokers and motor carriers also have the added benefit of comparing their rates to the marketplace and using the data to price their services and participate in bids with shippers.  As of right now, McLeod is offering this service for free to all McLeod customers in an effort to bring freight into the marketplace and establish value from the high volume the marketplace brings.  We can expect to see the same from other systems such as Mercury Gate, TMW and even SaaS model applications such as DAT’s own Keypoint software.

Email Blasts – Although it can be somewhat cumbersome, outdated and downright annoying to receive spam blasts from brokers via email with available freight multiple times per day, many brokers are taking advantage of email as an avenue for distributing available loads.  Using a home-grown email service, or an email marketing service such as MailChimp or Constant Contact, brokers can upload their available loads data on a schedule that will be blasted out to thousands of carriers at once.  Perhaps the most refined way to take advantage of this technology would be to collect data on which lanes motor carriers prefer to run and only send an email when it is in an area of interest for the motor carrier.

Posted on October 2nd, 2014 in Smartphone, Technology, Trucking Industry