Freight Matching in a Frenetic Freight World: Digital Reigns Supreme


“The process of getting a package from factory to distributor to customer can be fiendishly complicated, involving up to a dozen companies and a bewildering mixture of paper and digital documents.” Joel Dreyfuss, CNBC

In today’s world of two-day, next-day, and even same-day delivery, the need for a quick, efficient way to connect carriers with shippers and brokers is becoming more urgent. No doubt, you’ve heard the phrase “digital freight matching” or the “Uberization” of freight. Or maybe you’ve heard the term “on-demand trucking.” Whatever people are calling it, it’s basically an easy button for the movement of freight in a world that demands products faster than ever, and every player in the transportation industry is staking a claim on what it is, what it means to them, and how they stand out from the competition.

As shippers continue to face challenges, like truck and driver shortages, capacity crunches, and rising freight costs, digital freight matching fills the gap between the nation’s carriers and the companies that rely on them. It connects shippers and brokers directly and almost immediately to drivers with the capacity to transport their truckload, partial truckload, and less-than-truckload freight on the right types of trucks on the dates and routes they need.

Digital freight matching, defined

The national economy depends on trucks to deliver nearly 70% of all goods transported in the U.S. annually, according to, accounting for nearly $700 billion worth of manufactured and retail goods. To help match carriers of all sizes with shippers that need to move goods as efficiently as possible, numerous digital freight matching platforms have entered the scene over the last several years. Digital freight matching connects shipper and broker demand for carrier and truck capacity using mobile- or web-based technology, mostly through apps.

Research firm Frost & Sullivan predicts this market segment to grow to $79.4 billion by 2025. According to Frost & Sullivan, digital freight brokerage comprises the most significant share of the market. And if competition wasn’t stiff already, one analyst removed any doubt, saying, “New entrants are trying to gain market share by offering price transparency, online load boards, and freight marketplaces for booking freight all via mobile applications.”

In its most basic terms, digital freight matching looks something like this: A carrier taps to accept a load at a posted rate and can hit the road in record time. Behind what the drivers sees is a shipper or broker posting freight. For this digital freight matching “easy button” to work, load details must be included. To confidently commit to moving a load, the carrier needs immediate access to load details like weight, rate, distance, and pick-up and delivery locations.

The good news of digital freight matching

Digital freight matching addresses some of the biggest pains points both carriers and brokers face today, including the rate negotiation process, which can waste precious time with back-and-forth emails, phone calls, and just waiting for responses. Today’s freight movers don’t have that kind of time if they want to stay in the game and be competitive. Digital freight matching provides the time-saving solution and delivers a host of benefits, 10 of which are:

1. No more “post and pray” approach to load and truck posting.
2. Speeds up the time it takes to get a load covered.
3. Reduces or eliminates time-consuming phone calls and emails.
4. Automates the process of finding qualified partners. Both carriers and brokers can be assured they’re working with reputable professionals.
5. Eliminates manual process of faxing documents back and forth.
6. Provides digital paperwork capabilities for contracts, invoices, certificates of insurance, and more.
7. Seamlessly connects all parties.
8. Provides a quick-pay option.
9. Delivers predictive matching to plan for capacity.
10. Integrates into the users’ TMS or on any mobile device.

Beyond freight matching: digital capabilities to take advantage of now

To keep up with today’s frenetic pace plus stay ahead of the curve and prepare for future demands sure to come, not only should brokers be employing digital freight matching, but they should also be looking to automate as many manual processes as possible. Many are in development, and many are already being delivered by providers who are committed to innovation. If technology is to keep up with the needs of the industry, a full-circle transportation software system that solves for all the steps in the freight lifecycle should be the end goal. Here are some that exist today:

Carrier onboarding. Brokers can easily source qualified carriers using automated selection rules, set risk mitigation guidelines for compliance, and onboard them quickly.

Carrier monitoring.  Automated monitoring alerts brokers when carrier compliance status changes.

Fast certificate of insurance acquisition. Brokers can access the largest database of carrier insurance certificates and request certificates in real time.

See CSA-3 percentile scores. Evaluate inspection and violation data to mitigate risk.

Get TIA Watchdog reports. Identify fraud with validated carrier reviews.

Factoring. Providing a broker is factorable, carriers can factor loads to get paid faster. The best option is full-service factoring, which takes invoicing off the carrier’s plate. As a freight broker, factorability is one way to attract qualified carriers in a tight market.

Pay. A digital pay solution simplifies the payment process for brokers and carriers alike and goes a long way toward building better partner relationships and growing a broker’s network of carriers.

Instant booking. The epitome of digital freight matching, an instant booking solution transforms the booking process from time-consuming phone calls and emails to a few simple clicks, to deliver speed, simplicity, and convenience. Brokers post rates up front, so carriers can see the rate before they book the load. This time-saving feature even allows carriers to book loads outside broker business hours, making the process more efficient for everyone. Brokers can cover more loads faster, and carriers can book loads with trusted brokers from anywhere, anytime.

The ultimate digital freight matching machine: The Load Board

Although digital freight matching is a relatively new concept, it’s not new to some. has always provided the ability to connect brokers to carriers digitally, since 1995, in fact, when they introduced one of the first online load boards. It’s been 26 years now, and the innovation continues.

A prime example is Book It Now, a feature of the Load Board and simply a better way for brokers to post loads and find qualified capacity—and fast. Perhaps Don Everhart of Knight-Swift sums it up best: “I can negotiate with 300 carriers at once with Book It Now, versus one agent handling five calls from the carrier on just one load. We can focus on applying the headcount to the loads that are harder to cover.”

As for what’s coming, look to to lead the way to the future of freight matching—as they’ve done from Day One.