Insights & News

Will Uber do for Freight What It’s Done for Personal Transportation?

Shipping truck driving at sunrise

Posted On June 12, 2019

For the past decade, one of the easiest ways to generate buzz for a startup has been to label it the “Uber of (fill in the blank).” We’ve heard about the Uber of real estate, the Uber of tacos, the Uber of…practically everything but toilet paper.

Now, we are reading more about the Uber of freight, which happens to be Uber itself. The company is aggressively trying to increase its share of the freight market by offering rock-bottom rates. The strategy is similar to Amazon’s entire business model: Disregard profitability and focus on increasing market share by offering prices other companies can’t compete with, backed by an almost endless flow of venture capital.

Will it work?

Maybe. It would be foolish to write off one of the very few companies that—like Google—has been so successful it managed to make itself a noun and a verb. Even the world’s most ubiquitous brands haven’t managed to achieve that. You don’t “McDonald’s” a burger” or “Starbucks a coffee,” but you do “Uber a ride.”

However, disrupting the taxi business is very different from disrupting the freight business. Freight is far more complicated. Shipping departments know that, which is one reason why Uber has been slower to catch on in the freight world. While lower rates are nice, saving a little money doesn’t always compensate for taking on the significant risk accompanying the unknown.

To be completely clear, we aren’t arguing against innovation or new ways of doing things. At the Flat World family of companies, innovation and creativity drive our approach to all things supply chain. If nothing else, an aggressive pricing play from one of the few transportation companies with a household name will force everyone in the freight space to take a thoughtful, strategic approach to pricing and rates. And after years of steady rate increases, any relief for shippers—regardless of who is behind it—is welcome news.

But addressing complex supply chain challenges is not as simple as pulling an “Uber of (fill in the blank)” solution off the shelf—even if the Uber of freight happens to be Uber itself. Rates are an important consideration—for some companies they are the most important consideration—but the ability of a new market entrant like Uber to facilitate the visibility shippers demand is still a bit unknown, especially if the aggressive pricing strategy results in a flood of new freight business.

At Flat World Holdings, we’ve had a commitment to constant innovation and excellence that predates Uber being the Uber of anything. Our team of experts can help you find the most competitive truckload (TL) and less-than-truckload (LTL) rates while still delivering the visibility, problem solving, and comprehensive approach to customer service every shipper requires—but all too often do not get.

Uber might disrupt the entire freight sector, help stem the constant upward pressure on rates, or totally implode like McDonald’s Pizza did in the early 1990s. Time will tell—and if Uber does become an important player in the freight world, our team will help you maximize the benefits of using one of the most disruptive (and innovative) companies in transportation.

Until then, know that you can find the supply chain and freight solution you need when you partner with Flat World Supply Chain and the Flat World family of companies.