Now more than ever, shipping is increasingly competitive due to the growing capacity crunch. Carriers have more power than ever as they decide which shippers to accommodate. A major strategic priority for companies that rely on shipping goods must be to become a “shipper of choice.”
Nuances between carriers differ, but in essence, achieving this status boils down to the same thing: creating mutually beneficial relationships with supply chain partners. Every strong relationship requires a bit of work and strategic planning. Let’s take a look to see what it takes to become a shipper of choice in today’s landscape.
What Does it Mean to be a Shipper of Choice?
Before we talk about how to become a shipper of choice, we must define exactly what a shipper of choice is. First, a little context. Carriers have their own issues with the driver shortage forcing them to raise rates. Still, they’re in the driver’s seat (pun intended) when it comes to prioritizing which loads to pick up and deliver first. Becoming a shipper of choice means being a higher priority for those carriers. Some carriers provide official criteria for achieving this status, others take a less formal approach. In either case, differentiating yourself from the pack is key.
Shippers with Advanced Visibility Have a Clear Advantage
In their 2018 Market Guide for Real-Time Visibility Providers, Gartner states that “shippers with “increased visibility” become the shipper of choice.
So why does better visibility matter? And how does it make a shipper more desirable? Take, for example, the cost savings. Inefficient routing and driver dwell time during pickups and dropoffs are a constant thorn in carriers’ and shippers’ sides. With a visibility solution—such as project44’s Advanced Visibility Platform—ETAs dynamically change with every data point and are responsive to real-time conditions including traffic patterns, weather, and road conditions. Driver hours of service will be factored in to predict driver idle time, and further refine the accuracy of the ETA. This enables pinpoint accuracy for pickups and deliveries, drastically reducing dwell times.
Maintaining Positive Carrier Relationships
One thing about transportation that hasn’t changed is that it’s all about relationships. Building and maintaining strong relationships with carriers goes a long way to being a shipper of choice. Saving your carriers money by reducing dwell times is huge, but it isn’t everything. Right now the market favors carriers, but that won’t always be the case. There will be times when shippers can be more selective with rate shopping. Once the tables turn back, carriers won’t forget who they have stronger relationships with. That’s something you should always keep in mind.
Provide Value for All Parties Involved
This status provides benefits to consumers and B2B customers as well. The more information you can provide at the “speed of thought,” the better informed your customers will be. The Amazon effect continues to change consumer expectations. Shippers able to facilitate meeting those expectations will be prioritized over those that fall short. Through automated processes and real-time updates, Advanced Visibility allows customers to check status without engaging customer service. The entire experience is improved, and it all starts with a shipper’s ability to provide real-time information.
The competitive nature of shipping requires strategic planning. Shippers that provide the most benefit and build the best relationships with their carriers will be given priority. In the war for capacity, every inch helps. You need to become a shipper of choice, and in today’s market, that requires Advanced Visibility.