Two industry leaders spoke Thursday about ways shippers can become more efficient and create positive relationships with carriers during an American Shipper webinar.
Shippers can become a carrier’s shipper of choice by becoming more efficient and maintaining strong relationships with carriers.
Sam Ralat, senior director of carrier innovation at project44, and Joe Bartone, senior director of logistics at CarrierDirect, spoke Thursday about ways to achieve both goals during an American Shipper webinar, “Navigating a Carrier’s Market: Becoming a Shipper of Choice.” With carriers facing tight capacities and an expected shortage of 175,000 drivers in the next seven years, it is imperative for shippers to become more efficient, Bartone said.
“Carriers are looking to utilize their drivers and equipment in a more efficient manner and they just don’t have time to spend waiting around,” he said.
Submitting pickup requests in a timely manner and having both the freight and the paperwork ready when the carrier arrives are all important attributes of becoming a shipper of choice, Ralat said. A digital product, which includes a bar code on a bill of lading for the driver to scan, would help improve visibility and send the information to the carrier more quickly, they said.
Instead of the driver using a sticker on the bill of lading, the bar code would enable real-time data transfer between the shipper and carrier. It also would allow drivers to “scan and go” or “hook and go.”
“Customers where carriers have spotted a trailer and the shipper has loaded that trailer, the driver really shouldn’t even need to go on the dock at all,” Ralat said. “The trailer number should be put into the handheld. All the data should already be there. The driver just needs to hook to that trailer and drive away.”
The real-time insights also give everyone across the supply chain the same information, which reduces waste and time, Bartone said.
“I would have my driver take their … handheld and scan that bar right away, that information is out to our system in our home office and then we have all the visibility and there’s no issues with it being incorrect,” Bartone said.
“Everything is brought into the screen and is already in the carrier’s system,” Ralat said. “With that habit, that’s a shipper of choice. They’ve got their freight ready, the paperwork is ready, all the data was transmitted. … That’s exactly what we’re talking about here.”
But the transformation into becoming a shipper of choice is not an overnight process, Bartone said.
Shippers should create positive relationships with carriers, he said, and meet face-to-face and visit distribution centers when possible. The relationship would allow both sides to work together to solve potential industry-changing problems in a faster and cheaper method and would create a partnership between the shipper and carrier, he explained.
“Carriers when they see you as a partner, they value working with you,” Bartone said. “Shippers will receive the best opportunities, get good service and when possible get better rates.”
Shippers also need to improve internal communication with their corporate suite to educate them about the long-term needs of becoming more efficient and cost-effective, he continued.
Between 2012 and 2017, supply chain and logistics technology firms received almost $8.5 billion in investments, and U.S. companies plan to spend $2.5 billion in disruptive logistics and supply chain technology by 2022. Overall, supply chain and technology spending will raise almost $90 billion, Bartone said.
“The market is saying when you invest you win,” he said.
Although becoming a shipper of choice could be a long-term process, it also has long-term benefits regardless of how the market plays out, Ralat said.
“When you’re a shipper of choice, you enable yourself to have a competitive advantage,” Ralat said. “This competitive advantage we’re talking about — becoming a shipper of choice — is timeless. Regardless of where the pendulum is on the shipper’s side, on the carrier’s side, regardless of where the industry’s at, when a shipper … [is] a shipper of choice that’s an enduring competitive advantage.”