Beginning in late February and running straight on into August, produce season is one of the busiest times for domestic shippers in America. Significant amounts of fruits and vegetables are shipped from the nation’s farmlands and orchards to grocery retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers and other vendors throughout the country.
According to DAT Freight and Analytics, typical spot activity elevates nearly 30% during produce season with the most significant spikes seen in reefer, dry van and flatbed demand. This surge then creates a domino effect that causes rates to rise for all businesses — including those outside of the produce industry entirely.
Demand for transportation continues to rise while shippers try to navigate an industry that is consistently short on drivers with the estimated shortage now hitting 80,000 — 30% higher than it was prior to the pandemic. On top of this, faster economic growth, global unrest, increases in environmental restrictions, a recent surge in mandatory regulatory compliance and other challenges in the industry are coming together to push up freight costs for everyone.
In these carrier-favored market conditions, it’s harder than ever for shippers to find the transport they need to get their goods to market at both a reasonable price and at the time they need them delivered.
Establishing a comprehensive strategy for securing the capacity needed to handle these unique challenges is both an art and a science. The art comes from the strategy around building a diverse ELD-connected network of trusted carriers to work with, while the science builds on this to leverage data and automation to seek out methods for improving efficiency to save time and money.
With access to more carriers across different modes, shippers can leverage options like splitting a full truckload across multiple LTL shipments to take advantage of existing routes that could get your shipments to their destination faster. Likewise, you can consolidate your LTL loads to get your products to your distribution center at a reduced cost. And by bringing in parcel and drayage carriers you can unlock even more options for efficiency.
Of course, having all these options can only be helpful if you have the tools in place to manage them and identify which will be the best option for your needs. Ensuring compliance is always a top priority, but even more challenging is the task of matching each load with the best mode, route and carrier to get it where it needs to go on time and on budget.
This is where science comes in. One clear example is the issue of deadheading — when a truck is moving, but not carrying any shipment. According to a study by the International Road Transport Union, the number of empty trucks on the road has risen to as high as 40% since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hard to imagine that there would be so many empty trucks on the road in a time when shippers often can’t find a truck to transport their shipments, but often this stems from a lack of data. Traditional load-matching methods simply lack the real-time data needed to match a shipment in need of capacity with that empty truck.
By bringing together a diverse ELD-connected capacity network and shipment data from the thousands of shippers within it, it becomes possible to not only identify those available trucks, but receive a quote, book and track them instantly.
At the same time, this data can be put to work to create strategies for the future as well. By collecting information from touchpoints across each shipment and generating detailed reports and analysis, you can establish a competitive and timely plan around monthly spend, carrier cost, cost per mile and more, giving additional power to uncover further efficiency and avoid capacity-related disruptions.
How can Shipwell help unlock capacity?
Finding reliable trucks to ship fresh produce, food and beverages, pulp and paper products, retail goods or whatever it is your business needs to move during produce season can be a frustrating and costly experience. Capacity is already tight, and the high demand placed on quick and efficient service — especially in the areas where fresh produce is grown — creates challenges for everyone involved. To address the problems that shippers face during produce season, Shipwell’s platform focuses on innovative solutions for capacity and visibility, starting with a diversified and reliable carrier network.
Access our integrated carrier network for reliable options
Tap into our nationwide network of premium carriers and integrations with leading digital freight networks to ensure your shipments are hauled safely and on time. Access reliable drayage, FTL, LTL and final mile carriers whether you need spot or year-round capacity with over 2 million ELD-connected units and 850,000 drivers from top providers across the country, all accessible through the platform.
Ensure compliance for guaranteed freshness
Consumers today care more about the quality and freshness of the food they buy more than ever. And for those who have made the shift to online grocery shopping, quality and greater transparency regarding food handling have become top concerns and factors when purchasing fresh produce online. To ensure you are able to provide the quality that customers expect, it’s important to have an ongoing evaluation of the professionalism and reliability of the carrier, driver and the equipment used to transport your shipment. Shipwell helps to provide peace of mind and protect every shipment by ensuring carrier compliance through automated RMIS, Saferwatch and FMCSA checks.
Streamline processes for valuable time-savings
Shipwell provides access to instant LTL rate quotes and automated routing guides for FTL freight in just a few clicks on our platform. Simply start by filling out details of your shipment, view instant quotes from the carrier network, book your freight and create a Bill of Lading in minutes — all from the same screen. With the ability to create loads, send to preferred carriers, collect bids, select the best fit, and instantly create an accurate Bill of Lading, our customers have reduced the time spent on shipment management by as much as 88%, taking a process that used to take days out of their week, and reducing it to just 2 hours.
Reduce freight spend and waste for an improved customer experience
Uncover opportunities to increase efficiency while reducing freight spend, waste and spoilage with automated optimization capabilities that make it easier to discover the best options for moving your shipments. Through automatic guidance on consolidation, efficient routing and more, Shipwell has helped shippers in the food supply chain to cut shipping costs by over 16% within the first 6 months of using the platform while reducing food waste, delivering a better customer service experience, and ultimately reducing their number of claims in half
Securing reliable capacity on your own can be a serious challenge to even the most seasoned shippers, and even more so during the hectic and demanding produce season. To ensure that you can get shipments out quickly, delivered on time and at the best possible price, Shipwell provides both the network of premium carriers needed to find capacity and the analytics capabilities to uncover the best option.
To learn more about how Shipwell’s premium integrated capacity network can help you serve up supply chain success this produce season, schedule a demo today.