Watch Now

Shippers need granular data to compete in volatile market

Pandemic-fueled headwinds continue to plague the market

Image: Jim Allen (FreightWaves)

Easily accessible vaccines and loosened restrictions have prompted most folks to resume their pre-pandemic lifestyles over the past several months. Despite this seeming return to normalcy, pandemic-fueled headwinds continue to plague the logistics industry. 

Equipment delays, labor shortages and changing consumer behaviors have reshaped the transportation markets. Shippers have been grappling with strained capacity, sky high rates and serious opacity in the market. The industry is known for its cyclical nature and long-standing tendency to pass power back-and-forth between shippers and carriers. This time, however, carriers have gained more advantages – and held onto them longer – than ever before.

This striking imbalance of power has pushed shippers to become more innovative in negotiating with their carrier partners and protecting their bottom lines. Companies are employing several different strategies to achieve this, from introducing shorter RFP cycles to embracing shared truckload services. They are also getting serious about their data. 

Organizations across the logistics industry have become increasingly aware of the importance of data over the past several years. While most early stage data tools focused on eliminating data silos and allowing companies to access their own information, the most cutting-edge solutions sift the data automatically, bringing the important insights to the forefront. 

“Most people have access to their shipping data. The problem is that it is inherently complex,” Sifted Chief Growth Officer Caleb Nelson said. “Shippers have a ton of data, but knowing what data is most important to them and getting the data manipulated to the point where they can gain insights from it takes a significant amount of time and formatting work.”

Many shippers continue to rely on Excel spreadsheets to visualize their data. This process is cumbersome and often fails to provide the accurate, highly detailed information shippers need to make the best decisions. This can quickly become a liability, prompting shippers to leave money on the table, and, in the most extreme cases, threatening their overall profitability.

In a constrained market environment like the one seen over the past couple of years, shippers are always looking to cut costs and gain more bargaining power. That makes granular insights more important than ever. Moving away from the old spreadsheet method and toward a full-scale, sophisticated data solution is the simplest and most effective way to achieve this for shippers. 

Sifted, for example, has saved thousands of shippers a combined total of over $110 million by providing data-powered insights for smarter decision making. Instead of sorting through their data on their own, Sifted customers can rely on a personalized dashboard to access important data points, analyze parcel trends and run “what-if” scenarios before making decisions.

The platform also allows shippers to analyze carrier performance, often highlighting discrepancies in reported metrics like on-time delivery percentage. Being armed with this information makes it easier for shippers to decide which carriers to align themselves with, while also giving them greater rate negotiation power.

“A lot of shippers have gut instincts on things that might need improvement but lack the validation to prove so,” Nelson said. “Once they have that proof, they may be able to look internally and address a lot of their problems.” 

While shippers often focus on external data points and carrier performance metrics, internal data points can be just as important when it comes to running a successful business. 

Sifted provides shippers with a snapshot of their current situation, while also allowing them to track trends over time. This enables leaders to illustrate their pain points and prove their solutions to their own executive leaders, making it easier to institute internal changes sooner rather than later. 

Ultimately, having access to accurate and digestible data enables shippers to make better and quicker decisions on just about every level, allowing them to improve their performance across the board and compete in a volatile market. 

Click here to learn more about how Sifted has changed the data game for shippers

Ashley Coker

Ashley is interested in everything that moves, especially trucks and planes. She covers air cargo, trucking and sponsored content. She studied journalism at Middle Tennessee State University and worked as an editor and reporter at two daily newspapers before joining FreightWaves. Ashley spends her free time at the dog park with her beagle, Ruth, or scouring the internet for last minute flight deals.