• ITVI.USA
    15,411.130
    -4.180
    0%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.740
    -0.021
    -0.8%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.110
    0.000
    0%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,375.870
    -11.650
    -0.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,411.130
    -4.180
    0%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.740
    -0.021
    -0.8%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.110
    0.000
    0%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,375.870
    -11.650
    -0.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
American ShipperShippingTrade and Compliance

Uber Freight takes aim at small fleet operators

After spending its first year focused on empowering independent owner-operators, Uber’s cargo spinoff is shifting to multi-truck carriers.

   Uber Freight, the cargo spinoff of the now-ubiquitous ride-sharing application, is expanding both in terms of its geographic scope and the focus of its operations.
   Launched in select areas of Texas just over a year ago, Uber Freight quickly expanded, adding service in major metropolitan markets in California, Arizona, Illinois, Georgia and North and South Carolina three months later.
   Last week, the company said it is now powering connections between shippers and trucking carriers across the entire continental United States.
   Eric Berdinis, senior product lead at Uber Freight, told the San Francisco Chronicle the nationwide expansion “gives us the ability to think about the whole U.S. as the first major network for Uber Freight.”
   And after spending its first year focusing primarily on empowering individual, independent owner-operators, Uber Freight now is turning its attention to multi-truck fleet carriers. 
   The newest tool in the Uber Freight arsenal, simply called Fleet Mode, builds on the initial functionality of the application.
   In addition to being able to view all available loads on the Uber Freight platform, Fleet Mode takes into account information about a given trucking operator’s assets and drivers, including schedules and availability, allowing the carrier and its dispatchers to “quickly and easily manage every aspect of the load-booking process for their entire fleet.”
   Berdinis said the new feature was the result of vocal demand from customers, as well as an internal evolution in which Uber Freight went from simply aiming to create an on-demand platform for procuring trucking capacity to thinking about “how to help businesses succeed — not just find a load, but run a fleet, pay for expenses, be successful as a small business owner.”
    Uber Freight said in a blog post announcing the launch of Fleet Mode, “For the last year, we’ve been focused on building tools and services that enable carriers and their drivers to more efficiently find and book the freight they want and need. But for many carriers, a big part of keeping their freight moving means putting that same technology in the hands of their dispatchers.”
   For shippers, however, the bigger question remains whether the domestic trucking industry has enough drivers, let alone available truck capacity, in order to satisfy surging demand. Rising volumes and stagnation in fleet expansions and driver employment have resulted in the tightest U.S. trucking market since 2004, causing no small amount of consternation among cargo owners over rising rates and the frightening prospect of having their supply chains grind to a halt due to a lack of available assets to move their freight.
   And Uber Freight is by no means the only game in town when it comes to companies trying to leverage the value of the so-called “gig economy” in freight transportation. Startups like Convoy, Transfix and Cargomatic, among many others, all have attempted to capitalize on the elusive “Uber for freight” model with varying degrees of success.
   One such company, San Francisco-based Shyp, shut down in March, just four years after its initial launch, becoming the latest in a string of cautionary tales for new entrants into the shipping and logistics space.
   Shyp’s downfall was due primarily to its failure to map out a clear path to consistent profits in a market in which it was competing not only with other startups but established service providers as well.
   But the real lesson to be learned from Shyp and other similar companies is that shipping and logistics is extremely complex, making it an especially tough market for new entrants.
   By comparison, Uber disrupting the taxi business was relatively simple. All it took was a platform that could connect regular people with cars and free time to people that needed to go somewhere but lacked the necessary conveyance.
   But with shipping goods, especially internationally, there are a whole host of other concerns, from dealing with multiple providers like ocean carriers, terminal operators, airlines, railroads and trucking companies to customs brokerage and regulatory compliance.
   Only time will tell if Uber Freight will be able to move past its early iterations to provide real value for shippers beyond simple load matching.

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