For some truck drivers, seeking out their next pickup or side gig is all part of the fun of the job. The problem, however, is finding reputable, affordable, and updated freight exchanges.
There are some freight exchange platforms that are exceptional at simplifying the entire search process. On the other hand, there are just as many that are simply a waste of valuable time. Time spent scouring the wrong freight exchanges means less time spent on picking up your next load, after all.
So, how do you find the best freight exchange? Or, better yet, what can you do to weed through the ‘less than reliable’ platforms to find one that better fits your needs?
In this blog post, we are going to share a few tips with you to help do just that!
What is a Freight Exchange?
The traditional supply chain management process consists of using online technology, FMS or TMS platforms to locate, route, and schedule shipments.
These platforms work really well to automate the majority of the process. However, sometimes it’s crucial to connect with a human on the other end of the horn. The reasons that a driver may want to speak directly to a human are varied. It could be that fine-tuning things is more streamlined through an actual person, or it could be due to the extra layer of security in knowing that a human is issuing them a job and there is someone to reach out to in the event that something goes awry.
In order to achieve this, many carriers make use of what is called a freight exchange.
Essentially, freight exchanges are like an online forum where companies can advertise the freight they need to be shipped. Then, carriers can select which load they would like to move for the company (usually based on how close they are to the location) and place a bid for the move.
Lastly, when a bid is accepted, the company can assign the load to a specific carrier. Think of it as an auction house or a social network of sorts that directly connects shippers with carriers.
Many carriers utilize freight exchanges in their downtime between scheduled shipments from their own company. And on newer freight exchanges, carriers can even advertise their capacity and areas of operation!
What Qualities are Important in Freight Exchanges?
For those that are looking for the best freight exchange services, there are a few important attributes and qualities to consider. While the basic benefits of a good freight exchange include finding quicker pickups and new delivery opportunities, there are other important things to account for before pulling the trigger.
Quick Access to Freight Pickup Opportunities
The main attribute to look at for any freight exchange is the ability to quickly aggregate local opportunities. A good freight exchange should have the capacity to provide you with quick access to the platform while allowing for connectivity through multiple devices, and from any location.
Diversity of Options
Even if you’re a dedicated LTL carrier, having the ability to pick up larger loads (perhaps even FTL) expands your broader opportunities and skillsets. Make sure any freight exchange offers multiple routing possibilities.
There is a buzz phrase in website development that is often overlooked – adaptive + responsive.
For those not fully aware, when a website is designed to be adaptive + responsive, it means that it offers full connectivity to any device. This is really important for freight exchanges because most drivers utilizing the service will probably already be on the road. This means that they may not have access to a dedicated computer, and may be left with only mobile access.
Having this type of access to a freight exchange is crucial for optimizing your opportunities.
How to Fine Tune Your Search for the Best Freight Exchange
While the above attributes are critical for any good freight exchange, how do you find the best one? Well honestly, it really depends on what you’re looking for, and what’s important to your business.
And you also have to understand that there is no single freight exchange review site. The search for a decent freight exchange usually happens via word of mouth within the industry.
So, to find the best freight exchanges it's really just a matter of asking around. Here are a few tips to get you started...
Ask your peers what they use: Word of mouth advertising and referrals is still a powerful way of finding the best solutions. Also, what does the competition use in their spare time?
Compile a list of important attributes: Before you begin searching online for reviews of specific solutions, make a list of the key “must-have” items that you need from a freight exchange.
Make sure it’s scalable and affordable: While in practice it seems logical that all freight exchanges have the same bells and whistles, there are several that offer different features; most importantly, the ability to scale with your needs. Cost is also an important factor in determining the best freight exchange solution.
Determining the “best” of anything is always a personal decision.
One of the most reliable methods of finding the best freight exchanges is to consult with a proven 3PL. Whether you’re a carrier or a shipper, our team can help you find the best solution to suit your needs.