Though many industries have suffered under the strain of the pandemic and supply chain disruptions, the LTL (Less Than Truckload) industry has proven remarkably resilient. LTL carriers and shippers have quickly adapted to unexpected challenges and have successfully navigated an unsteady market.
Now that almost 50% of the US population has been vaccinated and restrictions are relaxing, the demand for LTL is expected to rapidly increase. With rapid growth and unprecedented changes, both carriers and shippers will need to prepare for factors that are currently impacting the LTL freight market.
Here are the top 4 factors currently impacting the LTL freight industry:
1) Shortage of LTL Workers
With the increasing demand at the tail end of the pandemic, dock workers, truck drivers, and other carrier support staff have been in short supply. COVID-related factors have either directly or indirectly resulted in a decrease of the carrier workforce. Some carrier support personnel who worked at home during the height of the pandemic have chosen not to return in person, leading to staff shortages. On top of this, there have been a number of early retirements, likely of the aging population of drivers who didn’t want to compromise their health or deal with additional stressors created by the pandemic. This has been especially detrimental in an industry where there are so many cogs in the wheel required to keep moving forward.
The pandemic has also affected the hiring process, causing a rush to raise wages and bring in new employees to meet the high-volume demand. Most industry experts state that the top priority for carriers should be attracting and keeping enough personnel to keep up with the bustling market.
2) E-commerce Expansion
The pandemic has inevitably led to accelerated growth in e-commerce as many consumers are buying online, rather than in brick-and-mortar shops. Though the trend was shifting toward e-commerce even before the pandemic, Covid-19 accelerated the pace even further. This shift has led to a substantial increase in home deliveries, which created an unanticipated impact on carriers. On top of this, many popular retailers have experienced record-setting demand for goods, which requires trailer capacity that often isn’t available.
3) Extreme Weather Events
From spring blizzards to deadly multi-state tornadoes, extreme weather events have most certainly disrupted the supply chain in 2021. The events have even recently prompted FEMA to put aside $1 Billion for the aftermath of unexpected weather. Storms this year have thrown off the balance of freight capacity that carriers depend on, creating a burden on the system.
This is expected to continue, as the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Association predicts an above normal hurricane season for 2021. In addition, the Farmer’s Almanac has forecasted a greater than average frequency of severe thunderstorms for a large portion of the country. With the combined strain of increased capacity and severe weather events, the LTL freight industry will need to move forward with continual adaptability and resilience.
4) Seasonal Spikes
Nearly every spring, the industry has seen a spike in freight shipping. This year’s seasonal spring spike is predicted to continue into late summer. The stimulus package in May, along with the re-opening of the economy, has contributed to the unusually strong increase in demand. Along with the above components, keeping up with demand this summer may be somewhat challenging. As many carriers are scrambling to add more equipment to keep up, some trailer and truck manufacturers are having to cancel orders due to high demand.
LTL shippers are also struggling with demand as the spring/summer spike has made it necessary to get more orders out the door. Part of the struggle involves managing transit time expectations, which is always more of a challenge when demand skyrockets.
Adapting for LTL Shipping Success
Although shippers can't directly control the above circumstances, they CAN more efficiently deal with challenges by staying ahead of the game. Smart shippers are leaving outdated manual processes behind and adopting digital tools that set them up for success. One of these tools is the MyCarrier platform, which has transformed the LTL industry with innovative API technology. This carrier-sponsored technology, which connects shippers directly to their carriers, provides a better, more efficient shipping experience for both parties. In fact, utilizing the MyCarrier platform allows shippers to become better partners with their carriers. As the LTL industry deals with increased capacity challenges, more and more carriers are choosing to work with shippers who have adopted these process efficiencies. Unfortunately, those shippers still using outdated, unproductive processes are being left behind.
In short, MyCarrier allows shippers to quickly quote, book, track, and analyze their shipments with optimal efficiency. With tools to improve the shipping process, companies have the time and money needed to focus on service, personnel, capacity, and more. In utilizing this technology, they not only set themselves up to win, but their carriers as well.
Adjusting for success is essential in any industry, but especially so in the rapidly-growing LTL market. MyCarrier is committed to helping both shippers and carriers effectively manage industry challenges, every step of the way.
Do you have any questions about how MyCarrier can help you adapt for success? Contact us or schedule a demo below.