The last few years have brought significant shifts in the freight industry. Most innovations are brought about by digital technologies aiming to improve and optimize processes. In fact, nearly every traditional industry is disrupted by digital transformation.
In this state of flux, some have questioned the future of traditional professions in transportation, such as freight brokers and even truck drivers. Yet, the issue is a matter of perception: while novelties brought about by digitalization can be seen as a threat, they also present powerful opportunities for those who are open to them.
The key approach for freight brokers who want to stay relevant in the new times is to focus efforts on adaptation rather than resistance to change. You can reap the benefits that freight software and apps offer rather than fear they will replace you.
Most of all, your role as a freight broker is to nurture strong relationships with carriers and brokers. That’s how you can make sure that they see you as their trusted partner of choice beyond the technology they may use.
Here are a few major digital transformation trends in freight and what you can do to stay on top of them.
Employ freight software innovation to your benefit
The rise of digital freight marketplaces and apps such as Uber Freight, Convoy and Transfix have left many fearing that brokers will simply lose their place in the industry. With the growing demand for transportation services, this still seems more of an imaginary threat rather than a real one. Freight software can also bring needed and useful innovation in the daily work of brokers without replacing them.
Digital solutions can significantly help brokers too. For example, the abundance and accessibility of cloud-based technology makes even budding freight brokerages more efficient than ever. Previous concerns that large corporations will suffocate the small guys are not proving as relevant as expected. In fact, freight software may help new brokers to enter the field and gain competitiveness.
You can use digital solutions for optimizing and running your freight brokering business. A number of software options can help you post shipments, find drivers online, enlarge your shippers’ networks and manage your brokerage with a transportation management system (TMS).
Adapt your tactics to the prospect of autonomous vehicles
One of the major concerns of transportation professionals today is how the industry will change with the introduction of automated vehicles. Freight moving with drones and self-driving trucks may turn into reality in the next 10 years as many companies are currently testing such options.
There is plenty of time for brokers to adapt to the future of autonomous vehicles being used for load moving. Some steps that you can take include getting acquainted with the upcoming technologies and establishing connections with the major players in the self-driving field.
Additionally, you can consider the positive sides of the introduction of autonomous vehicles. Besides disrupting the old-fashioned market, they also may bring a number of benefits, such as lower costs, richer data and improved reliability.
Build stable networks of loyal partners
The invaluable role that freight brokers have performed in the last 30 years in the U.S. has been to provide a much necessary connectivity between shippers and carriers. Brokers have helped optimize the transportation process not only through freight software. They have invested a ton of the extra work that goes with each shipment, such as handling unforeseen tasks and managing exceptional cases.
The smart approach for freight brokers who want to stay relevant in the digital age is to focus your efforts on expanding and bringing outstanding knowledge of the industry to your partners. Years of experience will not be so easily replaced with automatic solutions. By continuing to provide excellent service to customers and partners, you can keep on building your own network which functions on loyalty and shared principles. While some people will move on to use digital solutions, many transportation professionals will appreciate the added value that you offer with your work.
The safety of working with brokers is also not to be underestimated, as the FMCSA-required freight broker bond is a tangible security instrument for shippers and carriers. Brokers can additionally embrace the transparency that digital solutions offer in combination with your credentials and established partnerships.