Combining LTL and VLTL Into a Single Flow
Early on in my logistics career (circa 2012), I spent an exorbitant amount of time trying to find Volume LTL rates. If you were in the industry back then you might recall very few carriers offering web-based pricing – as most required an email or (gasp) a phone call. If you were lucky enough to go the phone route, you’d relay the characteristics of your shipment to a customer service representative, wait for them to key it in, and assuming there was capacity; receive a spot quote you could use for a finite period of time. But there was no real way to benchmark against the market without repeating the process several times with additional carriers.
Fast forward a decade. A lot has changed within the industry, as we’ve seen some carriers move towards a dynamic pricing model designed to be less centered around NMFC and / or freight classification and more around actual density, space, and network needs. Yet there still isn’t a great way to aggregate multiple providers and compare cost, transit, etc. When it comes down to it, carriers are selling space on a truck, and their willingness to offer spot pricing reflects how badly they need to fill that space. Why shouldn’t shippers benefit from this need on the supply side and have price transparency? Sure you might sign into your account with a carrier you have direct LTL tariffs with and enter shipment details to get a spot quote. But the process to compare against multiple carriers is time consuming, with little to no visibility with other providers.
The last point is ultimately what we’re hoping to solve for and attempting to think about differently. Here at Loadsmart, we’ve conjoined LTL and Volume LTL into a singular flow, providing our shippers not only access to their specific tariffs or our blanket pricing, but the spot rates our carriers provide via API. The beauty of this dynamic solution is simple as it truly affords visibility to a plethora of options, and allows the customer or shipper to determine the best path forward.
Simply stated, access to transparent spot pricing across multiple providers should simply be a question of: “where is this picking up and delivering to, how much does it weigh and how much space does it take up?” If the shipment is undesirable, the pricing in theory reflects that.
Now, it’s fair to point out the drawbacks with Volume LTL, as these shipments often move at the carrier’s convenience, come with reduced liability limits and may have limited accessorial availability (e.g. Liftgate service, residential pickup and delivery). Over the past few years, the appetite for these shipments from the carrier community has waned due to congested linehaul networks and restricted capacity. With that said, we’re seeing increased engagement, and pricing that reflects a glaring need as the market continues to soften.
So if you’re a carrier who is on the fence about investing in spot pricing API technology, I can assure you the demand is there. And if you’re a shipper who is seeking a way to reduce spend on those non-critical shipments by leveraging an LTL carriers’ linehaul needs, and having a centralized platform to quickly compare; let’s talk.
Learn more about moving LTL with Loadsmart here.