What Is Digital Freight Matching? Key Stages and Benefits

The freight and trucking industry has always focused on successfully and efficiently transporting goods from the shipper’s location to their final drop-off.

Shippers and trucking companies are adopting technology-based solutions (or trucker tools) to meet the logistics challenges in the shipping and trucking industry. An example of such a solution is digital freight matching (DFM).

But what exactly is DFM?

In this article, we’ll discuss what DFM means, how it works, and the benefits of using DFM platforms. We’ll also cover the essential features you need to look for in a DFM provider.

What Is Digital Freight Matching?

Digital Freight Matching (DFM), or digital load matching, is a process where web and mobile-based platforms match shippers with the right carrier (mostly trucks). 

This system connects the two parties in real time based on the shipper’s available freight load and the carrier’s available capacity.

In a way, a digital freight matcher is like Uber but for freight transportation!

To fully understand how digital freight matching works, let’s discuss the key stages involved.

7 Key Stages in Digital Freight Matching

Here are the main stages involved in the digital freight matching process:

  1. Load Posting: Shippers or freight brokers post job information, like the proposed rate, cargo weight, pickup and drop-off points, and dates on their digital freight matching platform.
  1. Load Searching: Carriers and truck drivers access the DFM platform and search for available loads in real time. They can view job descriptions, evaluate the load requirements, and confirm their interest through the site. 
  1. Load Matching: The digital freight matching platform uses algorithms to match the posted truckload requirements with available carriers. However, carriers must meet certain requirements, including: 
  1. Truckload parameters (like truck capacity)
  2. Transportation and equipment type
  3. Location 
  4. Shippers’ preferences
  1. Rate Negotiation: Once a match is made, the shipper or freight broker and the carrier negotiate the rate for the load. The platform may provide messaging tools or spaces for rate quoting and offer management to facilitate this process.
  1. Load Confirmation: After the rate is agreed upon, the platform generates an automatic confirmation that includes detailed truckload information. This confirmation message is sent to the carrier, along with any necessary documentation.
  1. Load Tracking: Certain freight matching platforms offer live freight shipping tracking, allowing shippers to view the driver’s location, estimated time of arrival (ETA), and any status updates. This allows all the parties involved to monitor the shipment’s progress.
  1. Documentation and Invoicing: When the driver completes the delivery, the freight matching platform provides proof of delivery (POD) and other necessary documents. Some freight matching platforms may generate carrier invoices automatically and send them to the freight broker or shipper to save time.

The DFM process is pretty simple if you understand how the application works. Plus, using digital freight matching services has its advantages. 

Let’s take a look at some of them.

6 Benefits of Using Digital Freight Matching

Using digital freight matching platforms over a traditional 3PL or load board is much more beneficial to shippers and carriers.

Here’s how:

1. DFM Improves Efficiency and Collaboration Opportunities

DFMs use automation to streamline booking, matching, and administration processes, making freight transportation more efficient and less time-consuming. Carriers and shippers can immediately secure their loads or capacity.

It also allows shippers and carriers from across the globe to connect through one platform, thus increasing the opportunities for logistics companies to expand their trade. 

Think about it, a freight forwarder in North America could easily find truck drivers in Portugal to complete the last-mile delivery. There’d be no need for a middleman.

This means that shippers and carriers can access a diverse range of jobs.

2. DFM Allows Access to Real-Time Information

Digital freight matching platforms provide real-time notifications and visibility into available loads and capacity. This lets shippers and carriers make informed decisions based on current freight marketplace conditions. 

Certain digital freight matching services also let shippers monitor the progress of their freight shipment and obtain accurate arrival estimates, leading to improved customer service and operational planning.

3. DMF Helps Save Time and Costs

Companies that utilize a digital freight matcher can expedite manual processes, saving time and reducing costs. 

What does this entail?

Most freight matching platforms allow users to automatically generate freight shipping documents like invoices, contracts, and the Bill of Lading (BOL).

Digital load matching platforms also help optimize transportation costs. Shippers can find carrier companies offering competitive prices, while carriers can identify profitable loads that align with their capacity and preferences. 

4. Implementing DFM Solutions Can Enhance Operational Flexibility

The extensive shipper-carrier network offered by DFM platforms allows both parties to manage their resources and adapt to any market changes or trends easily. 

For instance, shippers can quickly book loads based on their specific requirements, while carriers can find suitable loads that fit their available capacity and schedule. 

5. DFM Software Provides Data-Driven Insights

Most digital freight matching systems today apply Artificial Intelligence and machine learning in their matching process. The AI collects and analyzes data from a shipper’s past matches (load capacity, shipment destinations, etc.), market trend predictions, and carrier performance. 

It then produces in-depth reports and offers better carrier options in future matches.

6. DFM Simplifies Documentation and Payment Processes

DFM sites also offer in-app payment options or integrations with selected payment gateways. This allows for straightforward and quick transactions.

These platforms may also have built-in documentation functions and integrate with specific freight forwarding software, making it easier for shippers and carriers to keep track of their business.

In short, DFM platforms bring multiple advantages to shippers and carriers in the freight forwarding industry. It also helps users make critical decisions based on data-backed reports.

Interested in giving digital freight matching a shot? 

Let’s look at some things to ponder when looking for one.

Factors to Consider When Selecting Digital Freight Matchers

With a plethora of DFM and trucker tools available today, you should consider several aspects before committing to one. 

These aspects include:

  • Access to logistics specialist support: Look for digital freight brokerage providers that offer support for freight logistics whenever you face issues with your shipment.
  • User-friendly interface: Multiple features are great, but you also need to ensure that the platform is easy to navigate and that you can access its functions easily.
  • Large carrier and shipper network: It’s helpful to choose digital freight matchers with an extensive digital freight network to get the best prices, deals, and a larger range of services.
  • AI or machine learning: Get a digital freight matching platform with advanced AI or machine learning capabilities to obtain smarter load matching and create data-driven solutions to grow your business.

Once you’ve narrowed down your perfect digital freight broker or provider, you can immediately implement it into your business. 

But what if you need more than just a DFM platform?

Then, try Shipthis!

Streamline Digital Freight Matching with Shipthis

Shipthis is a freight forwarding solution that allows businesses to integrate a digital freight matching tool with their logistics operations. The app uses open APIs to connect your operations to a digital freight matching services provider. 

But here’s the thing:

To protect customer data, the tech team at Shipthis will need to conduct a safety evaluation of your selected DFM software. 

Let’s say you want to integrate Uber Freight platform’s digital freight matching service. Shipthis’ team will review whether their tool is secure before allowing the integration.

Once they’ve cleared the DFM platform, you’ll be able to integrate the platform to Shipthis’ freight forwarding solution. This extra security layer prevents malicious apps from stealing sensitive customer data.

And that’s not all!

With Shipthis, you can:

Still need some clarification about DFM?

Let’s answer some FAQs to help you understand it better.

3 FAQs on Digital Freight Matching

Here are answers to some common questions you may have about DFMs:

1. What Is a Digital Freight Network?

A digital freight network is an internet-based freight marketplace that connects shippers, brokers, and carriers on a load-matching basis. Here, shippers look for the right carrier with the transportation capacity to carry their products.

Think of it as an online meeting hub for shippers and carriers to conduct their business.

2. What Is a Digital Freight Broker?

Digital freight brokers can be traditional freight brokers or third-party logistics providers (3PLs) that arrange freight brokerages that connect shippers with truck drivers via an application.

They provide digital freight brokerage services by matching freight shipments based on carrier truckload capacity.

3. How Is a DFM Company Different from a Traditional 3PL?

Both digital freight matching and traditional third-party logistics companies, 3PLs provide the same services — connecting shippers with truckers based on their load capacity. The main difference is how they approach the load matching process.

DFM uses a technology-first approach, meaning every process involved is done through the DFM platform, from available load capacity postings to invoice generation. Thus allowing better data sharing and reducing the chances of miscommunication through the supply chain. 

3PLs use a human connections first approach by combining the modern load board with real-life contacts. They employ teams responsible for contacting carrier companies and negotiating prices for the shipper — pretty much acting as a middleman between the two.

This means 3PLs would first connect shippers to truckers or trucking companies they have connections with. Plus, there’s a higher possibility of human error or miscommunications happening.

Should You Try Digital Freight Matching?

Digital freight matching is currently on the rise due to how easily shippers and carrier companies can connect. 

It brings plenty of benefits to the whole supply chain, like saving overall costs, providing wider networking opportunities, and simplifying data handling.

However, a DFM platform alone may not be enough for freight forwarders. You should pair it with reliable and robust freight forwarding software that also offers a transportation management system like Shipthis!

Schedule a demo to experience the capabilities and benefits of our freight forwarding software!

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