Auburn University will be conducting a study examining less-than-truckload transportation pricing practices and will be seeking information from carriers, shippers and third-party logistics providers.

"Over the past few years the industry has changed in several ways," said Joe B. Hanna, Ph.D., chair and professor of supply chain management at Auburn. "Changes to the regulatory environment have altered collective ratemaking opportunities for transportation providers. Furthermore, the recent economic downturn has created serious challenges for all types of carriers. As a result of these and other changes to the industry, we are undertaking a study to identify current LTL pricing practices to better understand the industry and its current business model."

In addition, the study will compare current results with those of previous studies on LTL pricing practices to gain insight to how they compare to practices over the last two decades.

"Carriers can provide considerable insight into how they approach the pricing process for their services while shippers and 3PLs can provide considerable amounts of information about how they source the transportation market for LTL services," Hanna said.

Hanna said respondents can also provide insight into how they come to determine what they believe is a "fair" or "profitable" rate, how they benchmark LTL rates, and their thoughts on deep discounting practices.

The study will take place in two phases. First, the researchers will conduct 12 to 15 in-depth interviews, which will help them develop a survey. The survey will then be used to collect additional data from carriers, shippers and 3PLs. Hanna said he hopes to have enough data to conduct an in-depth analysis and draw some conclusions by the end of the year.