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iTECH: Striking Freight Deals Online

Web-Based Services Offer Users Point-and-Click Access to Loads

By Stephen Bennett, Contributing Writer

This story appears in the August/September issue of iTECH, published in the Aug. 27 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Developers of Web-based, transactional freight exchanges believe their services can shepherd in an era of one-stop shopping for moving cargo, where deals are made without so much as a phone call.

Industry experts, load-board operators and some fleets caution that knowing who’s carrying your cargo is more important than point-and-click convenience, but increasing industry participation indicates that the transactional model may soon claim a larger share of the freight market.

“I like the concept. I see it as an improvement on the methodologies that are already in play,” said Herb Schmidt, president of Con-way Truckload, Joplin, Mo. “It’s a bit more customized in that they try to match a carrier with capabilities that meet the needs of the individual shipper.”

Schmidt said he served as an “independent sounding board” to the founders of Post.Bid.Ship, a freight exchange based in Tucson, Ariz., that launched in 2010 and that has since registered 900 carriers operating 140,000 trucks. “I helped critique their product because I think it has merit,” he said. Con-way Truckload, which ranks No. 3 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in the United States and Canada, will likely make use of Post.Bid.Ship to balance lanes, “once it grows to size,” he added.

Schmidt said sites such as Post.Bid.Ship offer an alternative to load boards, websites where shippers and freight brokers post available loads and negotiate with carriers interested in making a pickup until a deal is reached.

“Load boards, generally speaking, offer carriers as a commodity,” he said. “Often, the lowest bidder gets the business, and that’s not necessarily meeting the shippers’ needs.”

Often, those negotiations take place over the phone, which gives freight exchanges an edge, said Matt Chasen, CEO of uShip, Austin, Texas, a freight exchange that launched in 2004.

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