To Digitize Freight Procurement in 2021 and Beyond, It Takes a Community
The spot market has been transformed by digitization. Shippers, third-party logistics (3PL) providers and motor carriers are using the latest technology to stay connected and share real-time visibility of available loads, capacity and pricing.
And while spot market transactions account for a fraction of the total freight volume, freight procurement is--and always has been--a much larger opportunity for digital transformation.
Here’s why: On average, about 80% of shipments go through a freight procurement process known as a freight bid or request for proposal (RFP).
Introducing the “Mini” Bid
Traditionally, shippers conduct RFPs on an annual basis, often a year or two in advance of starting new contracts. After several rounds of bidding, shippers are awarded freight contracts and begin a months-long onboarding process for new carriers.
This long-winded RFP process has changed significantly in the last five years. Supply chains have had to become nimbler and more dynamic to keep up with e-commerce and major shifts in consumer buying patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many shippers have foregone annual RFPs and do “mini” bids in 30-, 60- and 90-day cycles and carriers have become inundated by RFPs that require fast response times. Shippers have also been struggling to bring the right mix of carriers into RFPs on short notice.
All parties could benefit from a more intelligent and efficient process to manage bids.
Data Silos: A Widespread and Growing Problem
One aspect of the RFP process that has largely remained the same is exchanging .CSV and .XLS files. Shippers start bids by sharing files with freight and lane details. Analysts for carriers then use spreadsheets to translate the data into terms they understand by aligning zip codes and mapping the lanes to their own freight networks.
Once the analysis is done, analysts submit rates in the original file formats. After an RFP is complete, important data about lanes won and lost, at what price and other details are saved. But that information is stored on the hard drives of pricing analysts where it is siloed, fragmented and non-useful for future bids.
Technology’s Role in Streamlining Bids
One of the ways that bid-related information is being taken out of silos is through technology. Engage.Bid from Trimble is a web-based data warehouse tool for managing bids. The easy-to-use online interface has tools that provide instant access to market intelligence, historical lane data and automation tools for bid analysis and processing.
While originally developed to work with TMW.Suite, there is an increased demand across all Trimble TMS products for a sophisticated RFP software solution. Transportation business leaders understand that connectivity essentially rules the day. Connectivity means bringing data in from post-bid awards for customer service and operations staff to use for optimal load planning and execution.
The future of bid management technology will also not require singular client-server applications. Instead, fleets will be subscribing to applications and features using “microservices” within their platforms of choice.
Microservices use bi-directional application programming interfaces (APIs).Through microservices, Trimble is quickly becoming a connected workflow platform used by transportation and logistics companies of all types to efficiently move goods.
Enabling this flow of information is a key part of Trimble's connected supply chain vision to empower all transportation stakeholders to harness technology that maximizes resource utilization and provides freight coverage at the best possible value.
Leveraging The Community Concept for Freight Procurement
Trimble’s January 2020 acquisition of the Kuebix shipper TMS platform is part of our strategy to develop an integrated Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform for shippers, carriers and freight intermediaries.
It’s full steam ahead on a platform that all parties can use to optimally plan, execute and match spot and contract freight with capacity. Community Load Match is that platform in action, pairing shippers with Trimble’s large install base of private fleet and commercial carrier customers that collectively use its software products to manage 1.3 million commercial assets in North America.
Community Load Match works with shippers and carriers who are interested in solving the freight procurement problem by having more visibility and connectivity between each other.
The beauty of Community Load Match is that it creates a community for freight matching and procurement and provides data intelligence. What it will never do is be in the middle of transactions, like a digital freight broker and share pricing or other competitive information.
A carrier in the freight community, for example, may need loads from Chicago to Atlanta. The platform’s data analytics could automatically identify this need and make an introduction to a shipper with an RFP for that specific lane.
Discover the Power of Community for Your Fleet
Carriers of all shapes and sizes can realize the value of technology that enables them to operate at scale, as an asset-based 3PL, and present solutions to shippers within a community.
Are you ready to streamline the bid process for your fleet? Check out how Community Load Match can help you leverage the power of “community” to start finding the right freight opportunities for your business.