Take freightquote.com, in operation on the Web since May of last year. The company claims to provide a total transportation service for some 8,000 to 9,000 shippers who can log onto freightquote, get quotes on LTL shipments, then book the transportation right there. Freightquote takes care of all contact with the carriers and sends an itemized monthly bill for shipments handled.
Freightquote negotiates discounts with carriers and that provides their profit margin. Only a relative handful of truckers participate, some 30 to 40 according to a Freightquote spokesman who said that truckload and expedited freight services would be offered soon.
But Freightquote will soon have competition from CarrierPoint which should go live on the Web in the next quarter. This service will feature "dynamic pricing." While CarrierPoint would rather not be referred to as a freight auction site, that's pretty much what "dynamic pricing" boils down to.
However, CarrierPoint will evaluate shippers and carriers on a number of qualities and those ratings can be weighed along with price in selection decisions. The service will store customer statistics for later analysis and will handle shipment booking, billing, etc. CarrierPoint will make its money from a transaction fee on booked shipments. Otherwise the service will be free to all participants.
A bit further down the road is Logistics.com, which was once a part of Sabre, Inc., a company which started out in travel industry technology. Logistics.com owns and will continue to sell such Sabre transportation software as MicroMap, SuperSpin and OptiBid. In fact, the new company intends to make some software products accessible over the Internet as an ASP (Application Service Provider). Customers will be able to use them for a fee, without actually buying and installing software.
Meanwhile, Logistics.com will offer what it calls a DTM (Digital Transportation Marketplace) where carrier will meet shipper on a web site replete with ancillary transportation functions as well as evaluation and optimization based on their family of software products. According to a spokesman, Logistics.com has not yet established a pricing policy, but is expected to go live in the 2nd quarter of this year.