July 31, 2023

A Box Truck Love Story

Grafton Elliott

The final mile box truck industry is exactly like Facebook prior to the key data point of “relationship status."

“The Social Network” is one of my favorite movies. If you’ve watched the motion picture, you might recall the scene where Zuck, ignited by a sudden epiphany, dashes out of his classroom. His idea? Adding “relationship status” to users’ profiles on Facebook would be the piece of data that could unlock its popularity. Indeed, it did.

This single data point helped Facebook users understand if their school crush was “Single” aka 👍, “In Relationship” aka 👎, or “It’s complicated” aka 🤷. 

Before Facebook, the availability of your crush was unknown. The only way you could find out if someone was single was by asking them directly in person (scary). Your soulmate could be walking right past you in the hallway every day but because you didn’t know if they were available (and you were too afraid to ask), that chapter in your history book remains unwritten. 

So why is a supply chain nerd like me writing about Facebook and relationship statuses? The reason is simple: the final mile box truck industry is exactly like Facebook prior to the key data point of “relationship status." Professional box truck drivers with available capacity pass by the operations of retailers, brokers, and carriers everyday that are going in the direction of their customers. But you would never know. Let’s talk about why.

Why the box truck industry is stuck in the past:

Studies show that 35% of the time box trucks are sitting in yards or driving on the road completely empty during business hours. This results in a massive underutilization of capacity that if solved, would fix this so-called “driver shortage” we have in the final mile delivery industry. However, this problem is a complex one to solve; it’s not as easy as creating a new social media platform where box truck companies can change their “relationship,” or capacity status, to “open to work” or at the very least “it’s complicated” 🤷. Collaboration like this in the big and bulky industry just isn’t that easy.

Reason: There's more to it in big and bulky. Available capacity and route direction fluctuate by the hour. Moreover, even if a box truck company is “available," there’s no easy way to understand if that company can uphold the quality of your brand or even has the experience necessary to deliver your complex SKUs (not everyone can install a storage bed). 

Without a standardized and widely accepted source to harbor this performance and capacity data, relationships stayed siloed, trucks remain underutilized and many companies cross paths with each other servicing the exact same zip codes weekly. These inefficiencies drive up cost, hinder the creation of density that would enable same day/next day delivery, and ultimately affect end consumers that are starving for Amazon level service.

The Solution:

But it doesn’t have to be this way. What if there was a way to see if box truck companies had availability capacity in your market? Or if there was a local delivery company that had experience handling the complexity tied to assembling your SKU’s? Or even if you could find a box truck heading towards your end customer, enabling you to deliver your product the same day or next day, instead of sending a less-than-full truck? 

Now here comes the cliché transition: This is the exact solution Onward brings to markets across the country every single day. And how we do it isn't simple. By aggregating route and carrier KPI data, we have found a way to unlock the insights required to shine light on the best white glove delivery carriers in each market and exactly where they are traveling. Giving retailers, brokers, and carriers an actionable network of quality supply that can be called upon at a moment's notice. 

A strategy that allows Onward to deliver with the industry lowest damage rate of 1.00% and the density to unlock NEXT DAY delivery to rural zip codes! 

Are you ready to change your carrier relationship status from "It's Complicated" (🤷) to "Available" (🙋)? All while maintaining the brand experience your team expects from your delivery providers? If so, please schedule time using this link - we'd love to talk!

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