For small to medium-size shippers, finding competitive less-than-truckload pricing tends to be more difficult than it is for their larger counterparts.
Without dedicated volume, it can be impossible to establish direct tariffs, or rate bases, directly with LTL providers. Unable to reach out directly, these shippers reach out to multiple freight brokers and resellers in hopes of obtaining best pricing through bidding wars, executed with very little technology integration, on-time performance or exception management capabilities.
To bring value-based visibility and better execution tools to these shippers, industry veterans Chris Scheid and Michael Bookout built trusting relationships with LTL carriers to develop a platform that meets their needs.
“LTL is a very competitive environment and each carrier is proud of their various competitive offerings,” said Bookout in an interview with FreightWaves.
“That’s where an automated shipping solution had to come in with the vision of building a platform that they could go sell directly that gives every LTL partner a level playing field, but offers the technology for a positive experience during the lifetime of the shipment.”
This led the duo to found and build MyCarrier, a shipping platform that gives shippers of any size an automated LTL experience with innovative technology features commonly seen in truckload marketplaces.
In March 2021, MyCarrier raised $8 million in a Series A round to maximize its growth, going from 28 full-time employees in 2020 to over 100 employees by the end of the year to manage the 24,000 registered platform shippers. In response to the market and to further accelerate product development and growth, MyCarrier extended the Series A and raised an additional $3 million to bring lifetime funding to $14.3 million.
Related article: LTL platform MyCarrier raises $8M Series A
“LTL carriers are definitely investing in technology, but it’s often focused on improving their network productivity, the driver experience or service center optimization,” said Bookout. “This is one of the things I feel our platform helps expose. It gets their technology advancements visible to the shipper level. From a development standpoint, we execute the adaptive learning technology to drive additional productivity.”
The current avenues that smaller shippers take to move their LTL shipments often encounter a number of exceptions, or issues, to manage. Bookout explained that finding technological solutions for these exceptions is MyCarrier’s focus, rather than concentrating on executing the shipment for a margin, like many brokers and resellers.
“We get feedback from our shippers then go back to the carrier partners and ask, ‘Why is this happening?’” he said. “Operating systems should learn from the behaviors of these shippers and LTL carrier partners, record these exceptions and apply learning from them for future automation. It’s not that carriers aren’t paying attention to these problems, there are just a lot of moving parts in an LTL environment and we feel that we can come in as that complementary solution for both parties to make it a smoother process moving forward.”
These exceptions include issues that happen at all points in the life of an LTL shipment, including incorrect paperwork, deliveries that shippers don’t realize are going to residential addresses, incorrect dimensions and transit delays. Like most supply chain hurdles, these mistakes, regardless of who caused them, cost both parties time and money.
“Many third-party providers shove these problems under the rug and charge the customers for the mistakes,” said Bookout. “We are trying to bring true collaboration back to the LTL market.”
“The goal of MyCarrier is to be a frictionless platform that adds value to both parties,” said Tommy Barnes, former project44 president and now chief revenue officer of MyCarrier.
“With API integrations into LTL dispatch and pricing operations, while applying machine learning techniques, we can create efficiencies for the shippers who are used to managing exceptions and optimize the operations of the carriers.”
Bookout explained that working with global visibility partner project44 enables the company to provide real-time accurate data to all parties, eliminating a lot of the shipment lifecycle waste caused by improper communication.
“Anytime you have a digital connection, you take out human error,” he said. “Project44 gets us more information upstream through integrations with the automated LTL dispatch and electronic bill of lading, thus providing accurate automation at the front end of the shipment. From there, shippers receive correct BOLs and electronic documents that LTL partners are requesting. Now, these LTL partners can integrate shippers as clients faster and increase time to value. It’s amazing the shortcuts and the time being saved from an operational standpoint with those integrations.”
With global visibility partners in place, Bookout and his team can now focus on building tools with its platform to provide a better LTL planning experience for customers, such as its calendar views and integrations into Google Maps.
“We kept seeing shipping offices using physical and other miscellaneous calendars to plan their LTL shipments,” he said. “If we could make this a digital map in our platform that would automatically move depending on tracking updates, it would save so many problems for them. … We added Google Maps because customers would copy and paste addresses to visually locate whether they were residential deliveries or not.”
Even with 246% shipment growth compared to last year, MyCarrier will continue to take customer feedback to add new features and hopes to expand into multimodal shipments in the future while continuing to bring optimization to all carrier segments.
“It’s one of the few times I can stand here in my career, look at both sides of the platform and say both the shipper and the carrier are winning,” said Barnes. “Discussions that get away from just pure rates can lead to more value for everyone involved.”