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Freight alliances surge across digital landscape

Value of partnerships cannot be discounted

Omar Singh, president and founder of Surge Transportation, takes part in a fireside chat with FreightWaves reporter Kaylee Nix at FreightWaves' F3: The Future of Freight Festival in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Freight’s rapid adoption of TMS and partner integrations shows just how cooperative the highly competitive industry can truly be. 

That synergy was on full display at the FreightWaves F3: Future of Freight Festival, where FreightTech’s brightest presented their latest innovations.

“I’ve really learned to appreciate how many partners we have in this [space]. No one’s going at it alone,” said Omar Singh, president and founder of Surge Transportation, reflecting on his time conversing with the many vendor partners in attendance in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in early November.

Building freight alliances of all kinds is becoming increasingly valuable, especially in tight capacity markets. In an increasingly digital brokerage space, Singh said it’s important not to underestimate the value of a strong carrier-broker relationship.

While it’s not always easy to choose value over price in such a low-margin industry, Singh said a carrier-broker relationship cannot be understated.

“They don’t always go with the cheapest rate. A lot of times they’ll go with the better provider based on metrics or relationship,” Singh said in a fireside chat with FreightWaves, adding that partnerships will continue to be crucial in successfully procuring and moving freight.

Singh also described how hard it can be to form relationships through public load boards since you’ve got to work to find the right freight. 

“Those boards are more about the origin-destination pair than they are about who you work with,” he said.

For a platform to stand out in a crowded marketplace, Singh said you have to offer incentives, such as faster pay terms, to sway carrier preference.

“[Carriers] find it valuable when you say, ‘I’m not going to lose you in a sea of everybody else’s freight. I’m just going to focus on developing this partnership and building our lanes together,’” he said.

That has been a differentiating factor for Surge Transportation.

Surge has spent the last couple of years automating its customer load procurement, building out real-time pricing application programming interface algorithms and shipper TMS integrations. In fact, it’s the only proprietary software capable of shipper TMS integrations that automates both customer load procurement and carrier load bookings.

With Surge now rolling out digital capabilities for automated booking, Singh said the challenge now becomes how to do so while keeping the rep’s partnerships intact.

“You don’t want the communication, the day-to-day phone calls, relationships and time spent together to go away,” Singh said. “Even though there’s a way to book automatically, we still want to keep the value of the partnership strong.”

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Jack Glenn

Jack Glenn is a sponsored content writer for FreightWaves and lives in Chattanooga, TN with his golden retriever, Beau. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business.