Making money in trucking is difficult at best. Drivers are losing money every time they have an empty truck, and too many return trips involve empty loads. It is difficult for truck brokerages—who coordinate most trucking trips—to come up with complex shipping routes to keep trucks full and moving, so the industry is currently rife with inefficiency.

Many of the inefficiencies come from the fact that people are involved as middlemen. Companies that want something shipped have to call the brokerage, which has to figure out who might be the best trucking companies to do the job, then call around until they find someone willing to take the job. In addition to all of this, since so much shipping is on the margins when it comes to cost, it is hard to keep a trucking business profitable.

All of this makes it sound like the trucking industry could use something like Uber to improve coordination, allow trucks to make deliveries on their return trips, and even help truckers keep to favored routes. Fortunately, there are a number of new companies that have arisen in recent years to provide precisely this service—including, as it turns out, Uber Freight.

Companies like Uber Freight, Convoy, and Transfix are helping coordinate trucking companies—the overwhelming majority of which are small carriers—with businesses that need shipping, increased efficiency and reduced costs, even while increasing revenues for trucking companies. Businesses will be able to make offers and truckers will be able to accept or turn down those offers. There will also be faster payouts and turnarounds for carriers, because everything will be automated and online.

The flexibility provided by apps like Uber Freight will allow trucking companies to specialize more, to find the kinds of freights they prefer to move, to find the kinds of customers with which they wish to partner, and the routes they prefer to take. These apps should also make it easier to start up a trucking company, since all someone has to do is download the app, put in the information about his or her truck or trucks, and begin accepting jobs.

Shipping apps have the real potential of revolutionizing shipping the way Uber and Lyft have revolutionized taxi service. It will help to make shipping much more efficient, more open to competition, and cheaper—even while making trucking more profitable. This will be a benefit for businesses that need shipping, trucking companies, and customers alike.

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