You know Uber as the app you call when you need to hitch a ride. Professional truck drivers and owner-operators are now going to know it as something else.
Uber Freight officially launched its app in late 2017 when they saw a need in the way the trucking industry conducts its business. From there, it’s been setting the stage to completely change the way logistics in the trucking industry operate. So just how is it transforming the trucking landscape?
What is Uber Freight?
Any owner-operator or shipping carrier knows the process of booking shipments can be a logistically harrowing one. Negotiations on contracts and rates can continue between shippers and drivers for days or weeks, all while relying on back and forth phone calls, form signing, and faxes.
Uber Freight is setting out to change all that. They want to simplify the booking process, and speed up the negotiations on all fronts. As a company that already transports people using complicated algorithms, Uber saw this as the next logical step. “Uber has expanded from moving people to moving food with the UberEats product to moving things with the UberRush product, and Uber Freight is the next foray into the world of transportation and logistics,” said Eric Berdinis, the product lead for Uber Freight.
The app is simple. Uber Freight is a load-matching app that shows shippers potential matches for truckers that will be able to transport the goods they’re looking to move. Owner-operators sign up on the app and see a list of factors about the haul that shippers want moved. They can see the price being offered, the time, the type of goods, and more. If they have questions about the freight that they’ll be hauling, they can use the app to speak with Uber Freight staff. Once the load is delivered, the driver immediately receives payment.
According to Berdinis, Uber for trucking will make “logistics and transportation as magical as pressing a button and getting a taxi.” That might be true; this system addresses many of the points that slowed down traditional trucking operations. With all these factors laid out conveniently in an app, everyone wins: loads are delivered more quickly, and owner-operators can find work more smoothly.
They promote themselves as transparent, with “clear, upfront pricing and unrivaled visibility.” The app can simply be downloaded from the app store for whatever device you’re using, and work from your phone, tablet, or computer. Owner-operators and shippers will now have the power to plan out their logistics for weeks in advance in the palm of their hand.
How Will it Benefit Owner-Operators?
Berdinis speaks on the point that the Uber Freight app is making a big impact in the industry since rolling out.
“Ever since we put up our splash page late last year, we’ve had an overwhelming amount of inbound from carriers, owner-operators up to large carriers, and [on the shipper side] from mom and pop shops up to the Fortune 500 shippers,” Berdinis said. “I can’t reveal numbers, but one of our challenges has been scaling up the team to handle that and start moving freight. We have lots of inbound from shippers as well as a team that handles each account and makes sure everyone has a good experience.”
Traditional brokers have a reputation of gouging rates or not treating drivers well. Sometimes, if a cheaper offer appears on the table after an owner-operator has already agreed to haul it, they’ll switch the deal right from under the owner-operator. When using the Uber Freight app this can’t happen, especially when every aspect of the job is being tracked and updated in real time.
The app is free, so owner-operators won’t have to worry about accruing any costs when working with all Uber Freight has to offer. Because the services are available around the clock, it can also help put an end to the waiting game that operators might otherwise have to play for when people shut down their hours of operation. Also, the app offers reviews of shipping facilities, including star ratings.
Why is Uber Freight Different?
Uber Freight isn’t the only app that’s in the game. Several other companies entered the arena after Uber Freight announced its plan, but before that, there were others operating under the same idea.
“Most of the apps that are out there might show the load, but it’s still on the carrier to pick up the phone to call to see if that load is real,” Berdinis said. “A lot of times that load posted hours or days ago and someone else has taken it, but no one removed the posting. They’re really no different than the current brokerage model; there’s no book it now button, no instant experience.”
He continued to speak on the difference between Uber Freight and other available logistics planning systems on the scene. “There are some other ‘Uber for trucking’ kind of companies, but none of them are providing that completely seamless experience; there’s some hand holding or checking that has to happen. Maybe some are very technology focused, some are very operations focused, but we haven’t seen them take off, because you need both. You need that true defined demand matching experience, and you need the scale so every time you open the app you know there’s a load for you.”
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