One thing that has remained a constant factor for shipping and transportation among various freight parties is this- capacity is critical for continued growth and success. Shippers and carriers alike are preparing for unprecedented challenges regarding peak season capacity, which is expected to be huge compared to the lock-down levels seen last year.
As highlighted in a recent Bloomberg report, “holiday sales may exceed last year’s robust 5-8% gains at retailers such as Amazon, Walmart and Kohl’s amid strong consumer demand, based on Bloomberg Intelligence’s proprietary holiday survey, aided by an early start to holiday shopping and one extra selling day between Thanksgiving and Christmas.” Regardless of when trade starts to normalize, local businesses and economies will continue to feel the effect of shutdowns and capacity crunches for years to come. It will take more time still for the effects of the pandemic to loosen and for trucking capacity to return to something closely resembling pre-COVID levels.
To make capacity more visible and available for shippers this peak season, carriers need to take the following considerations to help maintain good capacity levels, transportation rates, and customer satisfaction this year.
1. Connect Your Supply Chain Tech Stack
Technology and automation are changing the entire landscape of the shipping and transportation industry in powerful and surprising ways. Keeping up with the latest trends and embracing advances in machine learning and innovative tech makes it easier for shippers and trucking companies and even drivers to maintain optimal trucking capacity. A well-balanced supply chain tech stack can open doors for greater capacity opportunities and enhanced opportunities to secure carrier and shipper contracts.
Fully connecting and integrating your current technology stack with innovative new tools, apps, platforms, automation, and software can provide a competitive advantage for your company and set the right trucking rates. Such capabilities also ensure your team can better manage your trucking assets.
There is always a need for careful monitoring of market conditions and current trends within the transportation industry. This is never more apparent than when the peak season capacity crunch bears down on the supply chain. Recovery has been going on for nearly a year as businesses reopen and a new semblance of normalcy returns to the market. This can make it difficult to plan transportation rates as a lot hinges on how the ongoing pandemic crisis plays out as well as how consumers and the market, in general, respond to these changes.
Accessing real-time data and comparing historical data from past years can help trucking companies better optimize and prepare for market changes and cyclic trends. Analytics, ultimately, helps your team price trucks based on actual market conditions.
Offering benefits for clients that attain shipper-of-choice can open doors for faster and easier volume access and also helps secure longer contracts and more reliable capacity. To be regarded as a preferred and reliable shipper of choice can serve as more than just an accolade to draw attention to specific shippers for your company.
Incentivizing your shippers with shipper-of-choice discounts can also help you secure high-quality freight with discounted transportation rates and leverage your available assets more efficiently. When carriers, truckers, and brokers know they can work with certain shippers more effectively, they are more likely to accept tenders from and work with those shippers. Maximizing trucking capacity is easier when you don’t have to search as hard for loads.
Digitalization and automation have become integral parts of the modern supply chain network. From driver scheduling and load management to loading and unloading scheduling blocks, maintaining a smooth flow is essential to keeping the supply chain moving forward. Bottlenecks, delays, disruptions, idle times, and dead miles can all be reduced or even eliminated with proper load scheduling and appointment confirmation services.
This is particularly useful as carriers and brokers prepare for the coming peak season capacity crunch. Carriers need tech to help maximize profitability, and part of that profitability comes from a digital appointment scheduling and management process.
Another benefit of increasing visibility within the supply chain network is the ability to maintain open lines of communicatio, not only between customers and shippers but between drivers and management. Real-time communication makes it easier to pinpoint disruptions and respond accordingly.
Alternate routes can be easily accessed, shipments and loads can be shifted around to speed up deliveries, and customers can be notified of changes to drop-off times and locations. This is vital for smoother operations in normal situations, and it is vital to head off the peak season demands. End-to-end visibility and dynamic freight routing guides make trucking capacity easier to manage at all times.
Once seen as a nice-to-have feature and option to add on to orders upon request, tracking and monitoring services are now a must-have for all orders and shipments. Capacity can be more manageable and visible to shippers when carriers apply mobile technology to track real-time asset location and shipment status. With real-time tracking and asset monitoring, it becomes easier to secure maximum transportation rates and keep trucks full and moving.
Mobile tracking, real-time notifications, and improved shipping services can maximize driver efficiency and keep the relationship between shippers and carriers strong and cooperative.
To keep profits high and costs low, shippers and carriers must be able to find one another and connect in a fast and efficient manner. The easiest way to do this in the transportation industry is through digital load boards and continuously expanding the network. Carriers have an incentive to market their brands across multiple load boards, and shippers want to get better rates by doing the same. However, transportation rates are subject to market dynamics, and diversity in the carrier base will lower costs for shippers.
As a result, carriers need to realize that the more exposure a trucking company can get, especially on reputable and successful load boards, the easier it will be to secure capacity when it is needed the most. So long as the utilized load boards for truckers are of high quality, the more marketability a trucking company has the better it will do overall.
Gaining access to real-time data is important but in and of itself will have little impact if it cannot be analyzed and applied correctly. The most successful truck drivers and fleet managers are those that use data to monitor current trends to make educated predictions. Predictive analytics can help carriers better monitor delivery status and provide up-to-the-minute ETAs and status reports for shippers.
Customers want to know where their packages and orders are and when they will arrive. This need is only amplified during peak season capacity crunches, which is why predictive ETAs and push notifications can help keep customers satisfied and also allow drivers to stay on top of all shipments and deliveries.
While proper onboarding is critical for team members and drivers when new tools and technology are incorporated, the need for proper integration of TMS platforms is just as vital. Choosing the right platform and software system can mean the difference between success and failure in many instances, especially during times of freight market volatility and stiff competition.
Freight management platforms, like MercuryGate and other industry giants, can help streamline the entire process and ensure everyone is on the same page. Furthermore, working with a load board that integrates with the MercuryGate’s of the world, like newtrul, instantly puts your capacity in front of more shippers around the globe. Proper integration of all systems makes trucking capacity monitoring much easier all around.
Each year, billions of miles are driven empty, wasting fuel and resources. Deadheading and empty miles do nothing but add to expenses as empty trucks consume fuel and rack up driver hours without hauling profitable loads. On top of the waste and added expenses, this is a trend that has been shown to affect shippers and carriers as they prepare for peak season capacity demands.
Boosting access to available drivers and the ability to match capacity with availability is easier with the support of freight brokers. By finding more backhauls and connecting with more shippers, carriers are able to create new revenue streams. They can further ensure current truckload service and prices stay profitable.
Ensuring available capacity is seen and accessible by quality shippers is critical to successful supply chain operations. The additional pressures associated with peak season capacity needs, fluctuating transportation rates, and potentially tight trucking capacity levels only further emphasize the need for improved trucking management and freight technology. The right combination of transportation technology and third-party partnerships can have a tremendous impact on peak season profits. Request a newtrul demo to learn more about how your team can deploy the right technology to make your capacity more visible to shippers now.