When was the last time you bought something on eBay? Before bidding on the item did you look at the seller’s rating and read a few comments from satisfied or dissatisfied customers? After you purchased and received the item, did you give the seller a review and add him or her to your list of “favorites”?
This “closed loop” process for searching, bidding on and buying products online has become second nature. Some companies have tried to create the same type of marketplace for services such as construction, lawn care and even freight transportation. But a service is not the same as a product. It is not a commodity; every job is different. Bidding is more complex and buyers hesitate to pay until the job is complete.
Carriers, brokers and shippers that use online freight marketplaces, for instance, have traditionally used them as high-tech classified ads to find loads and trucks. Once a match is identified the two parties negotiate rates, sign documents, and do their billing, payment and other transactions offline.
A freight marketplace called uShip is different in this regard. To date, uShip has moved over one billion dollars of freight between millions of shippers and thousands of carriers. The platform is designed for closed-loop freight transactions and is used primarily by consumers to move furniture, automobiles, boats, horses and other items they have purchased or sold.
uShip’s platform has a familiar eBay design with tools to automate shipping transactions. Consumers and businesses can post freight, accept bids, and track their shipments through updates sent in from drivers using uShip’s mobile app. Payments can be automatically disbursed to the carrier through PayPal when the shipment is delivered.
Based on the success of this consumer-to-business commerce platform, uShip plans to release a full transactional platform for brokers, shippers and carriers for commercial goods in less-than-truckload and truckload quantities.
The uShip Pro platform is designed to provide carriers with full details about each load and the tools to negotiate and bid for loads online. Carriers create a profile that includes their MC number, insurance coverage, safety rating and other necessary details. As carriers move loads through uShip Pro, they can increase their uShip rating and visibility to shippers, just as they do with the consumer uShip platform.
Brokers and shippers can track shipments online. They can also create private carrier networks to send loads to automatically based on their carriers’ lane preferences or past transactions. Upon receiving loads, carriers in the private network can choose to “book it now” or reject the load without the need for phone calls or faxes. Payment can also be automated upon delivery through PayPal.
The uShip Pro platform also has integration tools for brokers and shippers to import load postings directly from transportation management systems (TMS).
uShip Pro is currently in beta testing. If you have a brokerage operation and would like to give uShip Pro a try before it becomes commercially available, visit this site.