The growing interest in digital freight matching platforms shows that traditional third party logistics (3PL) providers recognize the sweeping technological shifts in the industry and are ready to sign-up. In the past six months, the industry has seen all market types due to the volatility of the supply chain and economy in light of COVID-19. It makes sense that brokerages, large or small, are pivoting toward more abundant and secure sources of capacity available in a digital marketplace.
“When I talk to 3PLs about their access to capacity, the thing that they point out is how their brokers were making 100 phone calls every day to try and find a truck,” said Eric McGee, executive vice president of highway services for J.B. Hunt, at the FreightWaves 3PL Summit. “From their perspective, what’s important and what they need is the access to capacity and finding the right truck instead of finding a truck.”
Looking for an active, vast pool of carriers, many brokerages have turned to well-developed digital freight matching platforms such as J.B. Hunt 360 for their capacity solutions. In just three years since its initial launch, J.B. Hunt 360 is averaging more than 30 million carrier load searches annually and offers access to more than 700,000 trucks available through the platform. Carriers have quickly adopted J.B. Hunt 360 in part because it simplifies the freight management process. Not only is there greater transparency into load availability, carriers can place offers on loads at prices that they themselves determined vs. accepting a load at a predetermined rate.
And the benefits of digital freight matching platforms extend beyond capacity, as J.B. Hunt has noticed inside its own operations. With so many carriers accessing load opportunities in J.B. Hunt 360, the platform’s load coverage has since surpassed manual load coverage. The company has seized the opportunity, reallocating much of its brokerage staff from manual load execution to more outwardly focused business development and customer service.
“Freight transportation is still a business built on relationships and we don’t believe that technology on its own can deliver the service that customers expect. But J.B. Hunt 360 has allowed us to take our brokerages across the country and retool and revamp our focus,” said McGee. “That focus historically has been to do everything from A to Z, but now, those offices in the field can focus on the shipper, the customer experience and getting more freight.”
At the beginning of 2020, J.B. Hunt simplified the seamless sign-up and order entry processes for its Shipper 360 product, a component of J.B. Hunt 360, to make it easier for customers to transact their shipments directly within the platform. Surprisingly, not only shippers have taken advantage. Over 200 3PL providers have also signed up.
“Making sure it’s easy for shippers to get in, get signed up, get quotes, book a shipment and be able to have visibility where that shipment is — that is what it is all about,” said McGee.
Platform transactions within J.B. Hunt 360 can happen in mere seconds. Today, 65% of shipments in the platform are viewed by a carrier within 60 seconds of being entered and 100% of shipments are viewed within an hour, creating huge opportunities for productivity gains for both shippers and carriers.
At the FreightWaves 3PL Summit, Mark Brewer, director of product innovation at J.B. Hunt, demoed the lifecycle of the load, earning Best in Show demo. From the J.B. Hunt website, 3PLs simply click “Get Started” and “Create a Shipment.” From there, they can designate whether the shipment qualifies as less-than-truckload or truckload and begin entering locations, dates, times, item description details and driver instructions.
Once a shipment is booked, 3PLs begin receiving notifications regarding the status of the load on behalf of the shipper. When carriers want to place an offer on that load, they enter a flat amount or an amount per mile. Shippers and 3PLs can easily track the active status of the load on an interactive map within the platform.
“J.B. Hunt 360 is all about creating the most efficient transportation network in North America – which means matching the right shipment with the right truck at the right time,” said McGee.