Spot freight rates resemble the stock market, no price is too low for a bear or too high for a bull.
Spot freight rates resemble the stock market, no price is too low for a bear or too high for a bull. As to say, there are natural fluctuations that can be forecasted and predicted but not calculated. This is why strategic sourcing ends up saving the company money, you’re protected from spot rate fluctuation. These shifts in rates arise from gas prices, the import and export industry, jobs and wages, the economy and so much more.
Here’s how you can stay on top of spot freight rates.
Load boards, or freight boards, are living databases used by shippers, carriers, and freight brokers for sourcing or promoting freight services. Load boards have become software products that offer additional services such as messaging, credit information, safety verification, mobile access, and more. Load boards usually offer a free preview with a call-to-action to upgrade to the paid edition (or a free trial). A few leading truck freight resources include:
DAT (formerly dial-a-truck) began operating in 1979 and is extremely well known in the freight industry. They have a customized platform for trucking owner-operators (Truckers Edge) and for brokers and shippers (DAT Power).
Trucker path boasts their load board has 800+ brokers, more than 150K daily loads, and most notably, 300K+ downloads of their highly-rated mobile app.
Trulos is a freeloading board with state-by-state searches and all types of freight. The site includes a routing tool that helps identify the most fuel-efficient route with the least elevation and mostly downhill miles.
Free Freight Search has over 104,000 registered members and gives members access to 33,000+ freight broker credit reports along with weekly articles and resources.
Load boards apply to truck freight. Air and ocean freight is more nuanced. Opposed to the standard A-to-B route, international freight requires seven steps, two of those involving documentation. There are too many variables for real-time load boards, but there are important things to know and resources to use. The main difference between a truck and global trade is the role of a freight forwarder. Freight forwarders manage the process of international shipping which includes transportation (trucking, air, and/or ocean) and customs paperwork. The process includes these checkpoints:
Understanding each step is the best method for managing international freight rates. Along with examining every spot quote to make sure everything above is accounted for. Failure to do so could mean an unexpected upcharge on the final invoice.
Additionally, there are some great publications to follow for real-time trends and expert insight. A few of these include:
Trucking DAT provides a trend dashboard which collects the national supply and demand of all types of freight and the load-to-truck rates quarter-by-quarter. Q1 2019 showed volume rates rising, which has been a trend over the past 12 months. Van and reefer rates trended down slightly, while prices trended up for the flatbed segment. Fuel prices have stayed relatively stagnant, increasing less than 1%.
Air & Ocean According to Glyn Hughes from International Air Transport Association (IATA), air cargo growth has been struggling to find consistency since the global financial crisis one decade ago. Capacity growth was up 9.3 percent in 2017, while growth in supply or lift was up 3 percent. The IATA released more disappointing numbers in 2019, with demand decreasing 1.8 percent.
For ocean freight in 2019, overall capacity is projected to increase by less than 3 percent, but global trade is predicted to grow around 6 percent. There are several factors expected to impact ocean freight according to logistics giant C.H. Robinson: