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by Heather Mueller
Heather Mueller

4 min read

5 Key Transportation Data Points Most Companies Are Missing

September 16, 2022

Heather Mueller
by Heather Mueller


Shippers that fail to collect and analyze data on a daily basis cannot optimize their transportation network to its fullest potential.

Too often, companies treat data collection as an annual project that takes place during an RFP event. But this method is antiquated, and it causes companies to miss valuable opportunities to adjust and respond to the market in real- time as events unfold.

Instead, shippers need technology that can deliver accurate freight transportation data on a daily basis to continuously optimize their networks. And, they need platforms and partnerships that add meaningful context to data points and benchmarks — a key element companies often overlook — so they can quickly identify opportunities in their transportation network and take immediate action. To keep up with industry and network evolutions, shippers should look to strategic transportation management solutions that make data collection and analysis a responsive and ongoing process.

5 Meaningful Transportation Data Points Most Companies Overlook

Shippers have a variety of market data resources at their disposal. But many systems don’t provide source information or real-time updates — and most data points are not valuable out of context. When evaluating technology and data partners, shippers should never underestimate the value of these five types of contextual data.

1. Reliable and timely first-party performance data. The emphasis is on reliable and timely here. Most shippers say they have access to freight transportation data from their network, but often that data is months or quarters old and housed in siloed systems. Outdated and fragmented data is less valuable than real-time, comprehensive insights, which allow companies to identify and act quickly on opportunities in their network. When shippers have relevant data available, they don’t have to wait to correct deviations from their strategy. They can take immediate action to keep freight moving and on schedule.

2. Ecosystem data. Many shippers struggle to access reliable data about the transportation ecosystem beyond their current network. Rate guidance is a key piece. Though plenty of resources publish average linehaul rates, most don’t include source information, and shippers need to know the origin of the data they’re accessing to determine if it’s relevant to their network. Freight transportation data based on completed transactions, not bid files, is the most valuable information because it shows the actual rates other shippers paid. Many shippers also lack access to information about smaller carriers within the broader transportation ecosystem. These regional carriers, with fleets as small as five trucks, fill gaps in national carrier networks and provide valuable relationships for most shippers. Data providers that collect nuanced information about the full transportation landscape can help shippers identify smaller carriers to meet their needs in underserved regions.

3. Fuel and freight rate forecasts. Many fuel rate forecasters report on oil commodities, not diesel — the fuel actually used by carriers. With fuel prices accounting for up to 30% of a shipper’s overall transportation cost, accurate diesel forecasts are essential when developing a transportation budget.

Accurate freight rate forecasts are similarly difficult to find. Again, there are plenty of providers that aggregate data on shipping costs, but most don’t reveal their sources. Companies need to know the source of their data to weigh its importance in their overall transportation strategy.

4. Accurate data on true fuel costs. In addition to fuel rate forecasting, companies need to know how fuel rates vary across markets. Shippers traditionally rely on national average fuel indexes. But those indexes distort shippers’ view of actual diesel prices paid on each shipment. Relying on national indexes makes it difficult to build relationships with carriers in states with steeper gas taxes, like Pennsylvania and California, that require higher fuel reimbursement rates. The opposite is also true: Shippers that reimburse at the national index rate overpay in places like Texas and Oklahoma, leaving incremental margin on the table. With better fuel management data, companies can reduce transportation spend in the supply chain while strengthening relationships with regional and national carriers.

5. Emissions data. It’s increasingly important for companies to understand the carbon footprint of their entire transportation network. But it’s difficult to capture absolute lifecycle emissions data for specific carriers and modes of transportation. With advances in electric and alternative transportation energy sources, it’s important to know what type of energy your freight carriers are using at every point in the transportation journey. Comprehensive transportation data can help companies measure their transportation sustainability impact and reduce their carbon footprint.

Across the board, shippers need to incorporate reliable and timely data into their daily processes. And with technology that can serve up accurate and meaningful data visualizations at any time, companies can manage their costs and emissions proactively — and differentiate themselves from the competition.

Ready to enhance your transportation strategy with meaningful and reliable data? Download “The Case for Better Transportation Data” white paper to continue learning.

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