LTL Market Update, Summer 2020: What it Means for Your Small Business

September 15, 2020

As with many markets, trucking has been impacted by the coronavirus and the restarting of the economy.

What does this mean for your small business?

Freightquote by C.H. Robinson has the technology and services in place to address any transportation or logistics disruptions caused by COVID-19. From the start, we’ve only worked with the nation’s high-quality, vetted carriers. We are fully operational during this time and are able to strategize amidst supply chain pressures caused by the coronavirus.

Still, it’s important to understand recent market developments so that you can plan ahead and make sure that you’re taking the right steps for your business.

In this post, we share recent developments of the trucking industry and how it might impact your company. We’ll also share why partnering with Freightquote by C.H. Robinson gives you the shipping protection you need during these uncertain times.

LTL Market Exhibits Mixed Experiences

According to C.H. Robinson’s Summer 2020 Market Update, demand in trucking is increasing in areas that have been slow for months. The recent demand growth is in response to the reopening of the country and businesses rebounding and starting to ship goods again. However, trucking capacity has been meaningfully constrained as part of the economic shut down and stimulus resulting in a significant amount of trucking unemployment. This means that there might be delays in assigning trucks to their proper locations and an increase in expenses related to the increase in demand.

The report also shared that it’s not clear if drivers are returning to work yet. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the trucking industry experienced a large volume of unemployment claims in April and May at 94,600 trucking jobs. And while jobs started returning in June and July, they are a very low percent of the total at roughly 10,000 jobs. We would expect that with rising transportation rates and if the second stimulus package is less generous, more drivers will come back to work.1

“Collaboration between shippers and transportation suppliers is always the approach that returns the best performance, and at this time it is even more critical as the market works through this dynamic environment.” says Steve Raetz, Director, Research & Market Intelligence, C.H. Robinson.

Supply and Demand Market Influences

We know that the recent coronavirus and the reopening of businesses has impacted freight shipping. But what other factors influence the trucking market? In the recent summer update, C.H. Robinson outlines 10 market influencers on supply and demand, from the economy and consumer confidence to supply of trucks, driver supply, and truckload volumes.

With 10 different factors, it’s easy to see why the report suggests to anticipate highs and lows as supply returns and slowly harmonizes with demand.

What can you do in the meantime?

The report provides two tips based on experience and expertise:

  1. Increase lead times
  2. Collaborate with freight service providers

How to Increase Lead Times with Freightquote

In order to combat higher freight rates and lower capacity, many companies are increasing their lead times on their orders. Lead time is the amount of time it takes from when a customer places an order to when it’s ready to ship.

Freightquote makes it possible for small businesses to reduce lead times with the following services:

  • Improve the supply chain – With Freightquote, you can leave the supply chain management to us. This way you’ve consolidated your supply vendors and can track your shipments efficiently through one website.

    When you provide basic information about your shipments, our tool lets you know the best mode of transportation and allows you choose the carrier and rate that best fits your needs.

  • Automate the shipping process – Freightquote makes it simple for you to calculate your freight costs, compare freight quotes, and book your shipments online. We also make it easy for you to create and print BOLs and track your deliveries all in the same place.
  • Hire Taskers from TaskRabbit – TaskTabbit makes it possible for you to find helpers to do all the shipping tasks for you, from packaging and preparation for crates and pallets, to picking up and dropping off packages at terminal locations.

How to Collaborate with Your Freight Service Provider

Small business shipping is very different from shipping for large corporations. We know that your time and resources are limited. So while communication is key to a great relationship, we’ve created small business shipping tools so that you don’t have to spend your time collaborating with your freight service provider.

With Freightquote, collaborating is as easy as using our self-service tool to manage your shipping needs. We will do the heavy lifting for you. This means we collaborate with carriers and transportation supplies; we create the trusted relationships you need to ensure that your products are delivered safely and on time even during these uncertain times. 

Less than truckload (LTL) shipping is a popular, cost-effective freight option for small businesses. With the ability to share space on a truck, they save money and get the added bonus of real-time updates on shipments (LTL freight usually has more stops).

As the trucking market continues to evolve, Freightquote is here to help small businesses stay open and active for business.

1 These jobs are across all for hire trucking (short haul, local, etc). We can discern this might be approximately 2-3% of the class 8 for hire tractor trailer market.