Implementing carrier-focused technology in a logistics company comes down to one deciding factor: How sticky is that product?
The stickiness of an application is determined by its ability to recruit, retain and engage a user, actions that are easier said than done as freight heavy hitters like UberFreight, Flock Freight, Convoy and Loadsmart enter the logistics industry as digital players on day one.
With over two decades in logistics, BlueGrace COO Mark Ford simplifies the problem he has experienced firsthand.
“You can build it in-house; the issue is getting people to use it,” he explained. “If you can’t get the driver to use the app, then your platform is not going to be worth anything.”
This is what motivated the long-standing relationship between BlueGrace Logistics and its tracking and freight matching partner, Trucker Tools, which has excelled in building a carrier-centric tool that services 1.4 million truckers on its platform.
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“Outside of tracking and booking features, they went after the driver’s needs first,” Ford said of the platform that offers a full suite of tools for drivers to find the best fuel prices, available parking locations, weigh stations and quotes for extra cargo insurance.
Ford explained that the relationship began with a focus on optimizing employees’ time through Trucker Tools’ tracking capabilities.
Announced on Tuesday, BlueGrace has expanded its partnership to now enable users to use Trucker Tools’ Book-It-Now feature to secure truckload shipments from the third-party logistics company.
Difficulties of one-click capacity integrations
Implementing a book now integration is not an easy task for logistics companies, particularly one such as BlueGrace that has been operating since 2009 with hundreds of employees.
For book now applications to generate value, carriers must trust that they will work every time they are used. When they do not work, the probability of the carrier coming back to that tool diminishes.
Ford said the close partnership with Trucker Tools enabled him to strategically build the feature to be used by the platform’s loyal drivers and internally prepare BlueGrace employees to trust the application to cover their loads.
“The last thing a carrier wants is to book a load and have somebody contact them saying that the load is not available. They will instantly think you gave it to someone with a better rate and you lose trust,” he said. “We needed to make sure that the load would be available and be sure that the loads being offered to them had a high chance of being accepted.”
What’s best for the carrier
While Trucker Tools’ ability to build a sticky driver application is exceptional, it does not mean that BlueGrace expects every load to be booked within the platform. This strategy is a way for the logistics company to offer more innovative ways to engage with its carriers than it previously had.
“The Book-It-Now feature, for some carriers, is the only way they want to do business,” Ford explained.
“Carriers that don’t work traditional hours, seen often with smaller fleets or owner-operators, want a different opportunity to do business after hours or on the weekends. We don’t want to tell our carriers how they should do business with us. We want to give them the option and flexibility to choose. … That is how we are going to gain the capacity that we’re not getting today,” he said.
BlueGrace plans to continue to build on its partnership with TruckerTools and simultaneously work on internal tools to support its current and future carrier relationships.
“Using platforms [like Trucker Tools], we can offer a different service to carriers and now focus our attention on what we are building internally to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace,” said Ford.