One of the hottest topics lately is the concept for digital marketplaces. This is not a "new" concept in many other areas of commerce and business, however, in Logistics and Trucking, this is a relatively new phenomenon.
So why a marketplace? What does that really mean?
A Marketplace is defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary as...
1a: an open square or place in a town where markets or public sales are heldb:market<the marketplace is the interpreter of supply and demand>
2: the world of trade or economic activity: the everyday world
3: a sphere in which intangible values compete for acceptance <the marketplace of ideas>
In this example, the first definition is the most relevant. However digital marketplaces used in today's modern 21st-century economy are upsetting this archaic definition.
Over the past several years there has been a resurgence in attempts to address the massive complexities in the trucking and logistics industries with increasingly advanced solutions. These solutions have been compared to various digital on on-demand businesses, with the most popular analogy being "uber for trucking."
But what does that really mean? Uber is in effect a transportation broker. They (or their algorithms) decide which driver is most appropriate based on rating and the driver's acceptance of a potential trip. This an excellent solution to the transportation sourcing problem, but does it really constitute a true, open marketplace?
Trucking and logistics are undoubtedly some of the largest industries in North America and the around the world. It is also one of the oldest and most durable, in light of various examinations of the market and economic history, both domestically and globally.
So how do we build a true, open marketplace that is also secure and efficient?
Amazon has addressed the marketplace from the e-commerce side. Multiple options, with internal ratings and vendor validation, helps create a level of trust and efficiency in online purchases and shopping.
International logistics has seen a new set of entrants attempting to smooth out the incredibly complex workflow of international freight forwarding, air freight and ocean transport as well as customs clearance into a single solution.
So what is a digital marketplace truly defined by? What features are redefining what a digital marketplace is in business overall? Some consider a digital medium for interacting with other parties a marketplace, while others consider a more self-service platform a true marketplace for allowing for commerce to take place.
When does e-commerce end and the new vernacular of "marketplace" take over?
Many questions arise as we look ahead to the future...
How will driver assisted and the potential of driverless trucks affect the trucking industry? How will it effect marketplace models? Will APIs be able to solve the massive differences between various proprietary systems that so many businesses already rely on to service their supply chain and critical business operations?
How much more efficient could you make a marketplace model in onboarding new potential vendor options by leveraging the latest technology? How could you increase the speed of vetting to increase the volume of options and marketplace participants in these models?
As a company, ComFreight is addressing these opportunities from a different angle, and we're starting with the day to day annoyances, demands and wishes of the people who work in the industry every day.
By addressing the demand for a true forum, with the correct and efficient vetting to ensure an increasing level of confidence, we're able to create a more expansive and more available set of options for price, service level and available opportunities for businesses who use our marketplace.
Helping to enrich the smaller businesses that drive 80% of the trucking industry in North American is the next big challenge. Through improving core technologies and capabilities, we strive to provide a highly polished and tested tool to the industry to improve sustainable growth and to help these businesses (quite possibly even yours) keep up with the tides of change.
Regardless of automation technology changes and acceptance, the need for efficient pricing decisions, market data to fuel those decisions and visibility to secure options will continue to be the largest ongoing demand for marketplaces in logistics.
Through improving core technologies and capabilities, we strive to provide a highly polished and tested tool to the industry to improve sustainable growth and to help these businesses (quite possibly even yours) keep up with the tides of change.
The Freight Marketplace is the future of logistics today. How the freight marketplace will continue to adapt as a model is yet to be seen, but it will be an ongoing opportunity for all involved in solving some of the largest problems in one of the largest industries.
More updates to come. Stay strong and stay safe, and keep on trucking.
-Steve Kochan, Co-Founder & CEO
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