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Echo Global (NASDAQ: ECHO) has enhanced the user experience and convenience of its EchoDrive web portal and mobile app with the addition of functionality that makes it even easier for users to find and book loads, the company said.
Preferred Lanes and Suggested Loads are designed to improve the load-booking process by assuring carriers receive loads that fit their needs. Preferred Lanes allows carriers to set up a profile of lanes they run regularly and get notifications when shipments in these lanes are available.
Similarly, Suggested Loads improves backhaul opportunities by suggesting shipments to fill empty trailers for Echo customers. Carriers can also choose to get alerts when they do a search for available shipments. Anytime freight becomes available that matches that search, they are notified.
"The new functionality is focused on simplifying the process of finding available freight for EchoDrive users," said Dave Menzel, president and chief operating officer at Echo. "Our new Suggested Loads feature enables carriers to quickly see shipments that are a good fit for them based on their criteria and our proprietary algorithms."
Jay Gustafson, senior vice president of marketplace solutions for Echo, said these upgrades will help fill trailers.
"The new EchoDrive functionality makes it easier for our EchoDrive users to find shipments that are a good fit for them," he said. "This should not only streamline their ability to find good shipments, but it should also help keep more of our 50,000 carrier partners moving their equipment with Echo."
EchoDrive offers real-time access to search, view and bid on available loads. Dispatchers can use the lifecycle management functionality, which includes access to documents and invoices, to manage loads and drivers. Drivers can submit documents through the app.
Select customers tested both Preferred Lanes and Suggested Loads in Beta format in the third and fourth quarters of 2019, Gustafson told FreightWaves, with the solutions rolled out to the entire Echo customer base just before the end of the year.
Preferred Lanes uses geographical preferences of carriers, allowing them to input their preferred or common destinations to receive shipments in these areas. Gustafson explained that the inputted lane preferences expire after 90 days, but a prompt will notify the carrier of this. The profile can be changed daily if carriers prefer. Shipments available to carriers can be found in the web portal or app, but those looking for instant notification can use the existing "alert me" feature; as loads become available along their preferred lanes, the system will send email alerts.
"We received feedback that carriers wanted tools to find more shipments relevant to them," Gustafson said. "They wanted to get those shipments pushed to them instead of continually having to search for them."
Loads suggested in Preferred Lanes will populate based on the carrier's lane preferences — for instance, Miami to Atlanta. Suggested Loads takes the Preferred Lanes functionality a step further, sorting through Echo's thousands of daily loads to find those that are the best fit for the carrier, based on their preferences. Carriers can search based on preferred lane, one-time alerts — in the case of a driver needing a load in a particular area — and reloads.
"It's shipments that are a good fit for a carrier for a variety of reasons," Gustafson said. "It could be
[shipments that match preferences or truck location]
. ... It's a consolidated view of loads."
Both features are also designed as time-savers for busy dispatchers, Gustafson noted.
Kate Moss, a dispatcher at Yopo Expedite, noted that in addition to saving time, Suggested Loads improves load quality.
"This is a time-saver for searching loads," she said. "I no longer need to make long phone calls and now have fast, online access to loads that I'm most interested in [and] I love receiving my Suggested Loads alerts; this allows me to book the best loads for my needs immediately."
Currently, notifications from Preferred Lanes and Suggested Loads are sent via email so users don't need to spend time constantly monitoring the EchoDrive platform. Gustafson said the additional functionality is part of improving the experience for Echo customers.
"Given that a large portion of the carriers that work with Echo are very loyal and give us a large percentage of their capacity, Suggested Loads gives them [continued capacity]," he said.
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