Digital freight matching (DFM) and visibility are poised to continue dominating the conversation this year. Now, however, the focus is shifting from the technical offerings themselves to their ease of use. In 2021, you do not just need to offer a solution; you need to offer a smart solution.
From a carrier perspective, ease of use means making sure solutions are aggregated into one application, take up as little room on their devices as possible and offer added incentives that make their jobs and lives a little easier.
“You need to ask, ‘How smart is the solution?’ Mobile applications tend to support drivers more than other types of solutions,” Trucker Tools CEO Prasad Gollapalli said. “These apps should address common issues like document processing and route planning, not just digital freight matching and visibility.”
The Trucker Tools app is a standout in the “all-in-one” category, providing drivers with a whole host of benefits alongside its required tracking function. Route planning is where this app shines, highlighting parking locations, rest stops and open eateries along various routes — a function that has become far more important as the coronavirus pandemic continues to force unexpected closings across the country.
Choptank President and CEO Geoff Turner agreed that ease of use and user experience would be top of mind for carriers this year. He anticipates further pushback against the use of excessive mobile apps as drivers continue to face digital fatigue.
“I still think user experience is the key. What we have seen is this push toward a desire for more progressive web apps. We have found interest from carriers because, as folks continue to depend more on mobile devices, all those apps take up room,” Turner said. “Progressive web apps are cool because they essentially link to an optimized web page, with no space required on the carrier’s phone.”
DFM and visibility solutions can expect to remain in the spotlight even as user experience is optimized simply because these tools provide the best return on investment (ROI) for companies that are just starting to scale up their technical sides.
“Real-time visibility and DFM offer the fastest ROI. Saving money is measured in terms of the variable cost of moving a load from point A to point B,” Gollapalli said. “Finding the right truck and cutting operational cost is where we can use tech to shave that cost down. Marrying visibility solutions with DFM results in moving more loads and reducing the overall cost per load.”
While these offerings have become standard and expected in many parts of the industry, additional cost-saving opportunities exist in further innovation and in expanding on which types of companies are considered when new tools are developed.
“When we talk about tech, it is not just between the broker and carrier. We can extend this to shippers too,” Gollapalli said. “Shippers have millions of loads. We can change how quickly they find available trucks. Moving upstream to shipper-broker transactions provides more room for innovation.”
Many of the themes of 2020 — and even 2019 — are expected to spill over into 2021. Old standbys DFM and visibility are not going out of style. Companies are, however, being called on to optimize their user experiences and expand their definition of which tools stand to benefit which types of companies.