What it Takes to be a Forward-thinking Carrier

Last week, we held our first-ever Carrier Summit at FourKites’ Chicago headquarters. Over 60 carriers and brokers, alongside several shippers within our network, spent the day learning how FourKites drives value for their business; building relationships with each other and our team; and providing feedback on our carrier-focused products.

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Over time, as we’ve grown more attentive to the challenges of the carrier community, we’ve pivoted toward a more holistic view of supply chain visibility. We now focus on driving value for all stakeholders across the end-to-end supply chain.

As a result, we’ve seen our carrier network grow nearly 37% YTD, and our Carrier Operations team has more than doubled to support that increase. That’s why now was the ideal time to gather this community together. Today, we’re partnering with carriers to provide them with better visibility and data that improves their day-to-day operations and ensures that they’re equipped to remain competitive as new challenges arise.

During the Summit, we polled attendees to get a feel for what’s keeping them up at night. Not surprisingly, dwell, rates, OTIF and capacity jumped to the top of the pile – problems that more and more carriers are attempting to tackle with technology and advanced analytics.

carrier-summit

Throughout the course of the Summit, as we discussed various ways in which we are addressing our carrier community, here are three themes that continued to take center stage:

    1. Visibility and data transparency are transforming carrier operations
      The carrier community is a conservative one, but digital disruptors like Amazon are forcing change. To enhance the customer experience, carriers now understand that they must streamline the process of sharing accurate data with shippers.

      As one carrier told the room, by making their tracking information available to shippers through FourKites, they have successfully eliminated hours of time-consuming tasks for their operations team, and measurably improved their customer experience. “We had been making hundreds of thousands of check-calls a week, particularly after hours,” he explained. Enabling better visibility through FourKites “has helped with relationship-building, because our customers were frustrated by how many calls we had been making.”

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  1. Communication is paramount to successful relationships
    “How do we define tracking quality and consistency across our network of brokers and customers?”
    “How can we prevent tracking consistency issues caused by drivers entering and immediately exiting geofences?”
    “What about GPS dead zones that impact tracking consistency?”

    These were just a few of the important questions Summit attendees asked during a segment on how carriers can leverage FourKites to track loads. But technology alone won’t solve these and other problems that disrupt supply chain visibility.

    Communication between shippers, carriers and solution providers like FourKites is also critical to enabling tracking quality and consistency. One attendee explained, “Whether it’s adjusting geofences or maintaining awareness of dead zones – small things that have a big impact on tracking consistency – if there’s quality communication between FourKites, our shipper customers and the carriers in our network, we can apply the changes that are required for tracking to be more consistent, or come to an understanding of what ‘quality’ looks like when we bring FourKites data, customer data and carrier data together.”

    carrier-summit

    Carriers in our network are taking steps to improve their communication with FourKites and our mutual customers in other ways, as well. As one attendee explained, “We’ve taken the steps to grade ourselves on our own database, on the same terms by which FourKites is grading us. If it’s below average, we know we need to improve. If there’s a discrepancy between our data and FourKites’ data, we know it’s a communication problem between our two systems.”

    Others see the value in improved communication by being “proactive with our customers” – for example by “identifying lanes that aren’t running on time and taking corrective action before our customers reach out to us.”

  2. Digital tools are advancing carrier capabilities
    As a carrier, standing out from the competition ultimately means improving on-time delivery, reducing labor costs and, of course, putting your customers first. What’s separating the winners from everyone else? It often boils down to those who are putting digital tools to use to maintain a competitive advantage.

    We’ve been doing our part to arm our carrier partners with a growing arsenal of tools to help them improve operations and keep their customers #1. That includes solutions like CarrierLink, a complimentary mobile app for real-time tracking that includes helpful features like:

    • New truck-specific turn-by-turn navigation to help drivers take the most efficient, cost-effective routes
    • Facility Profiles, which give drivers detailed information on the amenities they’ll find at the facilities along their route

    We’re even stretching beyond mere business value by adding new functionality through a partnership with Truckers Against Trafficking that allows drivers to report suspicious activity potentially connected to human trafficking.

    As one attendee put it, “Especially in the food and beverage industry, customers are looking for perfect, on-time delivery. By using a tool like FourKites, our customers can manage the exceptions and be ahead of the game. Additionally, FourKites is creating a lot of tools for carriers to enable them to drill down and see what’s causing some of these late deliveries, so that we can go back to our customers to solve these issues.”

 

. . . . . .

We were thrilled to provide insight into our carrier-focused strategy at last week’s Summit, and to gather the feedback of our growing base of carrier partners. It was a great reminder that real change in the supply chain industry requires close cooperation among all parties. We are excited to be creating a cohesive community of brokers, carriers, shippers and 3PLs that’s driving measurable impact for all. This is only the beginning!

If you’re interested in hearing about how FourKites can drive value for your business, please contact me directly at kevin.taylor@fourkites.com.

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