The unpredictable nature of logistics today leads too often to blind trust in technology. It’s understandable, given that transportation management systems on the market purport to offer one-size-fits-all solutions.
However, the needs of each carrier and shipper vary drastically, so it’s illogical to expect that a TMS or mobile app would be able to resolve every transportation management-related process or issue. But the plug-and-play concepts of much of today’s freight technology leads many to assume just that, especially when managing exceptions.
What’s needed isn’t a one-size-fits-all platform but a partner that leverages both technology and relationships to meet the needs of each user, something technology alone cannot do.
Jay Gustafson, senior vice president of marketplace solutions at Echo Global Logistics, said the problem with many pure digital marketplaces is that they lack a full understanding of the end-to-end processes and exceptions that stakeholders throughout the industry experience daily.
“It’s an industry that has more exceptions than just about any other out there, so you have to be really thoughtful about the processes that manage those exceptions,” Gustafson said.
Echo simplifies transportation management by leveraging the latest in AI, machine learning to support load matching and pricing algorithms. Gustafson detailed Echo’s digitization of the shipment life cycle and how its proprietary products and integrations with third-party platforms allow it to work with shippers and carriers at scale.
One of its offerings is EchoShip, a self-service portal that enables multimodal shippers to quote and book shipments faster than ever by eliminating many of the manual processes that historically support this process. The platform also supports real-time visibility throughout the shipment life cycle from the moment a shipment is tendered through the completion of accounting activities.
“The idea behind EchoShip is to provide shippers with the level of self-service capabilities that they’re comfortable with while at the same time having experts behind the scenes on standby when technology alone doesn’t meet their needs,” Gustafson said. “We have the technology to price truckload and LTL freight reliably and instantaneously through API [integrations] with EchoShip and EchoConnect. … It speeds up communication, which in this market means everything.”
EchoShip is one of four service offerings in the technology suite, EchoAccelerator. This robust system also includes the EchoDrive web portal and mobile app for carriers, EchoTMS, and EchoConnect for direct integrations to shippers and their TMS providers for automating TL quotes to large and small shippers.
“We’re not building a one-size-fits-all approach that carriers and shippers need to adhere to,” Gustafson said. “Echo isn’t bound by assets or physical space; we’ve got relationships built across the transportation ecosystem that allow us to be incredibly nimble and deliver solutions where other asset-based providers fail.”
It’s often the case that relationships go further than data sets in determining success, as technology can only provide so much before decisions must be made. Echo’s team of data science experts guides clients through the decision-making process, using analytics to support its recommendations.
“At Echo, we use the term ‘technology at your fingertips, experts by your side,’” Gustafson said. “We now have the ability to not just rely on tribal knowledge, but Echo’s got the data, we’ve got the data science team and we’ve got the products to visualize and help influence decision workflows. That puts us in a different category than many other companies that are working on the same problems as us.”
Echo’s customer service team aims to resolve issues with precision, answering any and all technology and shipping-related questions when they arise. Gustafson credits the team’s rapport with users as the deciding factor in leading many shippers and carriers to stick with Echo.
With all of its features, both digital and relationship-based, Echo’s technology suite sets it apart as the ultimate one-platform-for-all transportation solution.
“When you read through app reviews or driver community group chats on Facebook, one of the things that you hear about many purely digital freight companies is when something goes wrong, it takes nine hours to get an answer,” Gustafson said. “That’s not the experience our carriers have with us. Our goal is to use technology to make things easier, not to eliminate work or communication.”
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