Carrier diversification is a hot topic right now. The recent threat of a strike against UPS struck fear in the hearts of shippers that had been relying on a single major parcel service.
All shippers know the advantages of carrier diversification, including greater flexibility and negotiating power. But if they’re not asking their carriers the right questions, or digging into what they can obtain in terms of equipment, service and communication, they’re going about it all wrong.
Now is the perfect time for shippers to reevaluate what they really need from carriers — and that doesn’t always include the biggest freight brands in the business. By exploring a relationship with a boutique provider, shippers can realize many advantages that larger carriers don’t provide. Following are some examples.
Personalized service. Because boutique freight carriers and networks typically have a smaller client base, they’re able to provide more personal and attentive service. They’re able to develop customized logistics solutions that can benefit a complex and ever-changing supply chain, based on supply and demand and the current market.
Flexibility. Typically, small businesses are more flexible and agile in adapting to changing requirements. There’s less red tape to go through to make a change, and they can adjust their operations and technology to accommodate customer preferences. They can also react more quickly to urgent shipments, unexpected delays or unique shipping needs.
Attention to detail. With a smaller team and dedicated account managers, it’s easier to pay close attention to the details of each shipment, ultimately leading to reduced errors, better tracking and overall reliability.
Direct communication with leadership. Working with a smaller provider means that you’ll have faster and easier access to key decision-makers at the company. This streamlines communication and results in faster issue resolution and a stronger relationship between companies.
Competitive pricing. There’s often a misconception that boutique providers charge more, when in fact their lower overhead can result in more efficient operations, allowing them to provide better rates and service. They also may be able to negotiate more favorable terms with other carriers and partners.
Specialized expertise. Often boutique carriers focus on specific industries, regions or equipment types. They have more specialized expertise in handling certain types of cargo, navigating particular routes, or accessing niche lanes that aren’t always available to larger carriers.
Relationship building. It’s more likely that your dedicated account professional will have the experience level you need as a shipper. Through long-term relationships, boutique get to know your business and shipping needs, and they can provide more tailored and effective supply chain solutions.
So how do shippers suss out whether a freight provider is the right fit? By asking the right questions:
Alternatively, a good boutique carrier or provider takes a consultative approach by asking a shipper the right questions, such as:
Diversification doesn’t have to be a risk. Shippers can turn it into an advantage by doing the research and partnering with the right provider. A good one knows that if the customer succeeds, it does, too.
Daniel Sokolovsky is co-founder and chief executive officer of Warp.
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