With the recent announcement of $16 million in investor funding available for Convoy, a startup billing itself as the “Uber of the trucking industry,” it seems that technology is continuing to catch up to the trucking industry. Convoy, founded by former Amazon employees and backed by plenty of heavy hitters in the investment world, aims to make pairing companies with goods to ship and drivers and carriers looking for loads to haul, easier and less expensive than ever.
Instead of the antiquated solution of working with a middleman who brokered the deal, spending too much time on the phone with the carrier and the shipper to put a deal together, the power will be in the hands of carriers, drivers, and companies looking for someone to haul their goods. Smartphone apps, similar to Uber, will allow shippers to post the job, the location, the price they’re offering. Carriers will have the opportunity to accept the job and assign it out to a driver.
While companies like Convoy and Cargomatic, among others, will charge a fee for use of the service, it is less than the traditional fees charged by brokers. Like Uber, shippers will be able to watch their shipment on the road, and drivers and carriers will be paid once the delivery is made.
The carrier with good ratings, determined in part by equipment, financial stability, reputation, equipment, and rates, will be able to grow and keep their drivers on the road more. Inefficiencies like hauling empty trailers back may be eliminated as drivers and carriers will be able to pick up jobs in a destination they wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to find.
Is the “gig economy” here? Slowly but surely, on-demand service and the ability to work directly with a service provider seems to be gaining popularity within the trucking industry. It may be time for such a change. The current system of spending hours on the phone, haggling back and forth with a broker, is little changed from the early days of driving and hauling, but the world has not stood still. Companies that are able to make the shift to newer technologies will be able to survive in the new economy of “Uber for everything.”
Systems like Convoy and Cargomatic will move goods faster across the country, put more drivers to work, help carriers work more efficiently, and save money for countless small trucking businesses around the country. Even if the entire industry doesn’t embrace this new way of hauling materials and goods, the companies that do have the potential for new growth in this new “gig economy.”