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August 21, 2018 5:15 PM, EDT

Uber Freight Launches Shipper Platform

Trucks on highway John Sommers II for Transport Topics

Uber Freight has introduced a technology platform for shippers to connect with drivers and small fleets hauling freight via its load-matching mobile app.

Much like the carrier app, Uber Freight for shippers is designed to automate manual processes and increase market visibility.

Shippers can create and tender loads with a few clicks, reducing the amount of time and effort needed to book a shipment.

Uber Freight Shipper

(Uber Freight)

They also see upfront pricing for shipments based on real-time market conditions and can track their shipments online from beginning to end, the company said. The platform automatically organizes and stores freight documents and paperwork as well.

While many large shippers already have transportation management systems to help coordinate their complex supply chains, smaller shippers often continue to manage their freight “on really simple tools like e-mail, fax machines and Excel documents,” said Stefan Sohlstrom, product manager at Uber Freight.

“As you start to move down to the midmarket and small shippers, you see there’s a really underserved market there,” he said.

Those shippers often have limited visibility into market prices for a given lane or load and rely on freight brokers to provide pricing.

“What we really want to do is bring a lot of transparency there,” Sohlstrom said.

Prior to the launch of its shipper platform, Uber Freight had gathered information on new loads from shippers’ existing software systems, or via e-mail or even over the phone, said Eric Berdinis, product lead.

With the launch of its shipper product, Uber Freight now allows shippers to directly access the company’s carrier network “in a quick-to-use, seamless way that’s as easy as requesting a ride on the Uber rides app,” Berdinis said.

Moving forward, the company expects that shippers without a TMS will transition to posting their loads through the new Uber Freight platform, Berdinis said. The company will continue to work with shippers with a TMS through software integrations.

Uber Freight said shippers such as Wis-Pak have begun using its platform to improve their operations.

“As soon as we hit our busy season, it was incredibly helpful to have the extra capacity Uber Freight provides,” David Magnan, distribution manager at Wis-Pak, said in a statement. “One of our favorite features is the instant e-mail notification we get when a load is successfully booked. It means we don’t have to take any extra steps to follow up for confirmation, and the platform gives us added visibility into where our shipments are at key points along the route.”

Uber Freight app

Uber Freight launched it's load-booking app in May 2017. (Aether Films)

Uber Freight is a business unit of ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc. Earlier this month, the company announced plans to double its investment in its Freight business.

Uber Freight launched its initial product — its load-booking app for carriers — in May 2017. That app is designed to make it simpler for owner-operators and small fleets to quickly find and book loads with upfront pricing and fast payment.

The company has not revealed how many shipments its customers have moved via Uber Freight but has said its load volume is doubling each quarter.

Separately, Uber Freight announced it has established a carrier advisory board consisting of carriers and drivers from a range of backgrounds and industry sectors.

The board will discuss industry issues such as the driver shortage and electronic logging devices while providing feedback on Uber Freight’s product and service.