- Uber Freight launched two enterprise software products Tuesday aimed at bringing deeper visibility to shippers managing loads across carriers. The products, named Uber Freight Enterprise and Uber Freight Link, are intended to complement existing warehouse and transportation management systems.
- Uber Freight Enterprise is an extension of Uber Freight's existing shipper services, which shippers can access through the mobile or desktop interface or through an existing TMS via API. The new platform aims to help shippers manage Uber Freight brokered loads at a greater scale.
- Uber Freight Link is intended to extend the interface and capabilities shippers and carriers have within Uber Freight's platforms to loads not brokered by Uber Freight. Lior Ron, head of Uber Freight, described the offering as "essentially a generic app interface" that allows carriers to offer Uber Freight's capabilities to shippers without transacting through the company.
When Uber Freight debuted in 2017, the platform was carrier focused as many digital freight platforms were in their early years. After all, freight doesn't move without carriers, and a competitive carrier base will draw shippers.
As the product matured, the company shifted attention toward shippers. The platform that provided the convenience to drivers in 2017 was offered to shippers in 2018.
Uber Freight has spent much of the last year partnering with TMS providers to make its service easier to integrate into supply chain managers' workflows. To date, it has partnered with Oracle, MercuryGate, SAP, BluJay and Blue Yonder.
And other digital freight brokerages and digitally-inclined carriers have done the same. Digital broker Convoy partners with BluJay, Blue Yonder and roughly 10 other software providers via API.Convoy also released a tool last year that allows shippers to manage existing carriers while accessing the broker's carrier pool. C.H. Robinson's Navisphere is able to provide real-time pricing and instant booking through nearly 20 TMSs.
Uber Freight Link may put the company in competition with pure software players with TMS on offer. Ron said the lack of digitization among brokers and carriers has created unmet need in the market. Uber Freight will continue to partner with TMSs through APIs, but some shippers may choose to convert or use Uber Freight Link in tandem with their existing tech stack, Ron said.
At a macro level, tech firms develop supply chain software and logistics experts make technology, but few players combine those two sets of expertise, he said.
"Link can just offer them a much richer understanding of their carrier base. That is not necessarily always apparent through the API route because an API is sort of a thinner slice of the whole," he said of connecting Uber Freight's API to an existing TMS. Beyond digital documentation, exception management and facility ratings that can reveal the reasons for delays, Ron presented Link as a way carriers can make a step-change in their digitization, which in turn benefits shippers.
The timing of this launch is related to the unprecedented volatility the pandemic has wrought for supply chains, Ron said.
"The level of scrutiny on them as supply chain professionals is much higher," he said, adding that visibility is the next best thing to predictability in volatile circumstances.
The new software plays will put more shipper data in Uber's hands. And in order to offer load visibility beyond its platform's transactions, Uber Freight will also ask carriers to put their transaction data into the hands of what they may see as a competitor.
"We think this will be a compelling opportunity for carriers," Ron said, pointing to benefits such as consistent interface for shippers across the carrier base and emphasizing that Uber Freight won't use the data but rather "enable the transaction."
Uber Freight won't have access to specific pricing or lane rates when a shipper tenders a load using Link, an Uber Freight spokesperson said.
"A vast majority [of data] will not ever be used and then there is some component that we can potentially use after a very strict anonymization," Ron said. "As a policy, we do not intend to use that for any competitive purposes."