Successfully managing a transportation strategy is an ever-evolving, dynamically moving target. The circumstances and economic conditions experienced by shippers today are more complex, more technologically enabled, and moving at a more rapid pace than ever before. The transportation industry has seen unprecedented growth in terms of size, scope, and data accessibility. As such, the industry is creating solutions for new challenges that did not exist a decade ago. Shippers are finding the navigation of this new landscape challenging as they strive to increase both the productivity and efficiency of their networks to meet changing consumer demands.
Although every transportation network has unique challenges, they all have the same goal—to move goods to market by the most efficient and cost-effective means possible. On-demand consumer behavior, increased cost-to-serve, manufacturing and operating costs, elevated shipment volumes, and an expansive data landscape are all elements that will continue to shape supply chains well into the future.
As these challenges become more apparent, the importance of industry collaboration among all stakeholders—particularly shippers and carriers—becomes not only more apparent but crucial to the long-term success of supply chains.
What does industry collaboration look like? It starts among peers and competitors. Shippers who collectively leverage benchmarking data, insights, and experiences of industry peers, can create new opportunities to elevate the success of the transportation industry. Without diluting the competitive landscape, we can elevate the quality of the competition so that all players operate at a higher level in total. By elevating the playing field, you elevate the competition.
Another way for shippers to elevate the transportation industry through collaboration is by strengthening shipper-carrier relationships. The cycle of power dynamics—as tight capacity markets favor carriers, whereas excess capacity markets favor shippers—has become tiresome. Shippers benefit most from candid, strategic conversations and real data at their fingertips that give a holistic view of the market. Conversely, carriers need service obligations and contracts that consider their own network intricacies. At the end of the day, both parties are seeking the same solution—relationships that work within their network.
In the past, opportunistic approaches to shifting economic conditions put shippers and carriers at odds with each other. In today’s challenging market it’s time to forge cohesive and forward-thinking strategies that look at the bigger picture. It’s time to break that tired cycle.
If shippers and carriers can facilitate relationships founded on data and unbiased insights, with the goal of eliminating inefficiencies and leveraging natural network advantages found across a wide landscape of stakeholders such as backhaul matching or matching carriers based on best fit lanes in your network, all parties will realize a leaner, more agile transportation strategy.
Changes that benefit the industry will ultimately benefit individual players. This shift in mindset starts with both shippers and carriers having access to the same data. Generally, the transportation industry is lacking a single accepted source of robust and clean data, so there is no baseline from which shippers and carriers can operate. While access to more platforms, log-ins, and data than ever before in our history is exciting, this lack of common understanding and a standard reference point makes driving forward shared efficiencies and quantifiable results nearly impossible.
Historically, many shippers drive strategies forward because they have an obligation to the consumer to deliver their products on time and at the lowest consumer price. As the market pendulum continues to shift, and shippers recognize their ability to drive pricing in the marketplace, the allegiance of the shipper shifts towards the industry at large. Best strategies for the shipper should capitalize on the needs and behavior of the entire network to facilitate an optimally functioning collective supply chain, which delivers distinguished service, value, and product to consumers.