Uber Freight will offer drivers in its network the ability to bid on loads within its smartphone app, augmenting the range of options available to carriers to immediately book preferential truckload freight.
The new offering, called “in-app bidding,” is designed to help drivers make more informed decisions about which loads they accept by making the pricing more transparent. Drivers can use Uber Freight’s internal pricing engine to automatically base their bids on or independently create their own bids.
Uber Freight said Thursday in a statement that such capability was a “highly requested feature” from drivers and has increased in importance during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak as carriers weigh whether they want to handle certain types of freight or drive in certain geographic regions.
“Carriers are notified if their bid was won or lost, and winning bidders will have the load temporarily reserved for them to book at the winning price,” the company said. “All loads available for bidding will still have a Book Now price allowing carriers to book in seconds if that’s preferred.”
In-app bidding allows carriers to receive feedback on their bids directly in the Uber Freight app from customers, and respond accordingly, while winning bidders will have their load temporarily reserved for them to book at the winning price, the company said.
Immediate in-app booking features have proliferated in recent months, notably those introduced by the load board and services provider Truckstop.com and broker-focused software provider Trucker Tools, as a way to ease the management of load acceptance. Uber Freight’s in-app bidding capability would be a differentiator among those options.
Value of real-time data
Uber Freight said its pricing engine is a critical part of its value proposition for carriers, but that the current unstable rate environment makes it important to gather real-time information about which loads carriers actually want to pick up and at what rate levels.
“The complexity of the freight industry means that combining these algorithms with bidding information from carriers on the front lines is important,” the freight broker said.
Uber Freight is one of a number of digitally oriented brokers to come on the scene over the last few years, among a cohort that includes Convoy, Loadsmart, Transfix, and Opus9. Most have focused on building predictive pricing models into their systems, some for the benefit of shippers, some for carriers, and some for both sides.
Truckstop.com rival DAT Solutions in January released its own rate forecasting tool, while established brokers are similarly amping up their predictive pricing capability. The COVID-19 situation has thrown a curveball at some of those models, but brokers have said the algorithmic programs just need a few weeks of data to understand how the pandemic should affect pricing.
That doesn’t mean pricing won’t swing wildly depending on supply and demand variables; rather it means the models just need some early COVID-19 data to better account for the variability.