On-demand freight and aggregator services for logistics is long overdue considering the demand for a marketplace where drivers, owner-operators, and customers can connect. Various technological inputs need to be incorporated, not just on the interface front but also in the way the operations are carried out before the marketplace can go online.
Technology in a marketplace setting is transformative and needs to be fully embraced to reap the benefits. Piece-meal adoption of technology will be of little or no use, and will not take the marketplace to the fast lane of ‘Uberized’ transport.
For logistics app development to create value in the on-demand freight space, it is necessary to factor in various aspects, including takeaways outlined below.
Beating the middlemen to offer better rates
In an industry where traditionally it is the middlemen who manage the bookings, taking a considerable margin, the solution needs to be innovative enough to offer adequate bookings to truckers, and owner-operators keep the middlemen out. Any platform that provides an alternative to an existing business needs to be able to meet the needs of service providers fully.
For instance, the single biggest desire of all truckers is for preferred routes and hauls that will take them back to base or home after a trip or a couple of trips. On-demand app development needs to ideally make this an essential port of call in the design stage.
Truckers in many nations are more used to handling cash for short hauls. It is, therefore, necessary to be able to convince truckers about the benefits of digital transactions and then offer incentives for the switch.
If truckers fail to accept digital payments, the marketplace concept of Uber for truck will hit roadblocks, as customers would like to switch over to convenient, and faster modes of digital transaction, which will also serve as a record. Digital transactions are the transactions of the future, and on-demand freight transportation is no different.
When all the processes in on-demand freight transportation are designed to commence and conclude at high speed, it is mandatory for payment transactions to be as smooth and seamless as possible. In addition to the generation of records, it is a useful tool for comparison of rates for similar haulage between same routes/destinations.
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The onboarding of freight service providers needs to be restricted to physically verified service providers typically. This will ensure that uniformity is maintained among service providers. Setting standards needs to be the order of the day in Uber for truck, as the requirements will be a lot more diverse than a ride-hailing app.
Screening of personnel, inspection of vehicles and a reputation check will undoubtedly help in ensuring that standards are met, which will make the order and servicing procedure a lot easier.
Onboarding in on-demand freight is atypical. It has different needs such as the need for ascertaining the capacity and the condition of the trucks, in addition to the screening of drivers and vetting of records to compile reviews.
By the haulage having to travel long distances, it is necessary to get the preferred routes right, to manage the return leg of journeys for optimization. Route management will be the biggest challenge in the development of a solution, due to the various factors that need to be considered, the capacity, the preferred destinations and the return leg of the trip.
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The platform needs to be strong on the load matching capability. This is where the concept will vastly differ from a ride-hailing app. A passenger on a cab pays the fare for the trip, even if he or she is the only occupant – this is before and after Uber. However, trucking does not work that way. Loads need to be correctly matched. The platform needs to have solid programming effort on this front.
Customers need to get the best rates to use the platform by default, and carriers need to see similar, if not more profits than what was earned earlier. Getting a trucker to move into an on-demand freight transportation model can be achieved only by offering a better opportunity to the trucker for profits with assurances of a quick return run. The expectations can only be met if the loads are matched with the capacity.
If everything falls into place, except the load matching, the whole effort will prove to be a waste. This is precisely why it is necessary to offer load matching options for the benefit of the trucker, and the convenience of the customer in using the app.
User facing and driver facing side of the apps
Ideally, it would be an excellent option to have two interfaces for the app – one for use by the driver, the other for use by the customer. This will keep clutter out of the interface. After customers are done sharing specifications of the load and requirements, the information can then be shared with drivers who will then accept or reject the request. This way, customers need only share additional information after the driver accepts the load.
A single interface for customers and drivers alike is likely to cause confusion. When details are sought to be entered in an interface, users typically do not read the fine print, except when the input becomes more involved in nature. This effectively means that users are more likely to get confused and end up keying in details that are not intended for users.
With different interfaces for drivers and users factored in transportation app development, it would be a lot less complicated, and with the right integration, users on both sides of the app can communicate with each other till the transaction concludes, after acceptance of the load by the driver.
Simplified documentation uploading
Traditional trucking involved documentation issues, which need to be tackled by the app. For instance, customers need to be able to upload the necessary documentation which can then be verified by the truckers who will find it easier to go ahead and confirm the order, for further processing.
A chat option would help both parties to interact and clear doubts about the documentation, which will help speed up the process. Documentation will forever remain a challenge to drivers, and the option of digitally sharing documentation will free both parties to the transaction from the hassles of verification. For instance, in the event of improper documentation, the trucker may be forced to decline an assignment.
Rather than taking the customer through various stages of the process, only to be turned down as a result of documentation at the end, it will help to get the documentation verified early on, to avoid possible disappointment in the future.
Telematics and geolocation
The vehicles need to be fitted with telematics devices by default, and this will help customers track the shipments on a real-time basis helping to match up with ETA and be aware of the route used for the deliveries.
The real-time updates will give drivers the ability to share traffic updates and information about congestion on roads which will help customers understand the situation better. Customers and drivers can then coordinate the delivery, which will help in quick turnaround for the driver to take up the next order.
On-demand app development needs to score on the following fronts for it to be successful
- Offer tracking on a real-time basis
- Integrate payment management
- Handle documentation uploads
- Share specifications of consignment/load
- Create push notifications
- Chat option inside the app
- POD option
- Preferred route options for drivers
- Superior load matching abilities
The platform needs to meet all of the above requirements, in addition to general requirements that are common with aggregator services. Most importantly, the vehicles need to be physically verified before onboarding to offer assurance to customers about the safety of the packages that are shipped.
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