Logistics and transportation are one of those business spheres that suffer from unnecessary intermediaries and lots of efforts spent on paperwork. The number of phone calls and emails required to arrange a single shipment may be quite enormous sometimes. Exhausting paperwork can make the shipping process a pretty time-wasting task and cause frustration for the new players at the market.
While country-wide trucking business stays profitable during the years, local transportation may face inefficiencies and lost profitability due to different reasons. For example, after the delivery is done, truck drivers often return empty since there are no available orders. Fuel waste, in this case, can cause significant financial losses. Freight brokers that have access to the database of shippers offer their services to trucking companies. As you can imagine, such a service requires a commission that can reach 20%. Another drawback is time-wasting caused by the need for information to be transmitted from shipper to broker, and then from broker to the transporting company. Also, keep in mind the time required for interim negotiations, and you’ll understand how sluggish the whole process may be.
To make the whole process more transparent and efficient, you must eliminate the middle link in the chain that connects carriers and shippers. When shippers can connect carriers directly, there’s less place for communication issues. Lack of intermediaries can help to lower prices for both sides and shorten the time required to conclude a contract. The best part is that the solution was right before our eyes all the time. We talk about Uber.
Just like Uber connects taxi drivers with passengers, an Uber-like app for trucking can connect carriers with shippers without the need to involve any intermediary parties. Such a solution will work for those who have logistics business and wants to simplify the whole thing and for those who want to offer a marketplace where truck drivers can receive orders from shippers. The use of a mobile app can make such a system more accessible and allow users to place orders with a couple of taps. Removing some paperwork and redundancy from the shipping process, you can expand your business and enhance the quality of provided services. The question is how to develop a logistics platform that will satisfy both shippers and carriers. Let’s find out.
Must-have Features for Your Uber-like Trucking App
Now, let’s focus on the trucking app features that can guarantee an excellent experience for end-users and provide a competitive advantage in the market. These features can be divided into the following three categories, according to the user’s role:
- The administrator manages the business, tracks drivers’ location, monitors vehicles condition, and receives all relevant info via the interactive dashboard;
- Shippers can create and manage transportation orders. These users should have the possibility to book vehicles and monitor delivery status;
- Carriers can use the trucking app to review all available orders and answer to shippers’ requests.
Features for Shippers
First of all, it’s important to provide a comfortable and smooth registration and login mechanism that will allow new users to become a part of your trucking platform without any fuss. Today, almost everybody has a Google account or use social networks such as Facebook. Implementing registration via social networks will allow newcomers to start using your app with a few clicks. If you help them to avoid the necessity to go through dozens of registration forms, their first impression will be delightful.
Provide shippers with an intuitive list of the available vehicles. Spend some of your resources on designing a set of recognizable icons that represent different types of vehicles according to their size and weight capacity. Such an approach will help shippers easily find the closest vehicle that better fit their needs using an interactive map, whether they want to transport a piano or deliver some perishable goods. Plan how the sorting feature will work. If you offer your services to companies that deliver frozen food, make sure that your app provides an option to display refrigerated trucks only.
In business, the ability to plan ahead plays a significant role. Therefore, you should implement a reliable booking mechanism. You must allow users to define which number of trucks of which size should transport the cargo from point A to point B in a certain period of time.
It’s impossible to keep in mind all the logistics-related info. You can turn your app into a personal assistant by adding notifications features that will remind your users about upcoming events. SMS, push notifications, email, Facebook messenger — all these communication channels can be used to make sure that your user hasn’t forgotten the time of shipment. Besides, your app can notify shippers that cargo has been delivered or even send periodic reports on the current status of their delivery.
Vehicle tracking is one of the main advantages that Uber-like apps provide. With its help, shippers can check the location of their cargo at any given moment and make sure that it’s not stuck along the way for some reason. The trucking app can gather the data from the truck GPS and display its current location on the map. Also, there’s a more affordable option that enables vehicle tracking functionality and allows developers to avoid the necessity of adapting to a particular truck-mounted GPS device. A mobile trucking app installed on the driver’s smartphone can provide info on cargo location at any given time. Additionally, the use of IoT devices can provide some extra information that will be extremely useful. For example, IoT can be used in transportations of goods that are sensitive to temperature, humidity, shaking, and other external influences. Such devices can control the contents of containers and refrigerators during shipping and display this information in real-time.
The built-in chatting app can provide additional control over the delivery process. No one is safe from unforeseen circumstances such as traffic jams or engine breakdowns. In such cases, it can be pretty useful to be able to contact a particular driver directly and clarify the reasons for the delay.
When the job is done, there’s this sad moment of payment that appears on the horizon. Fortunately, payment system integration can significantly simplify the whole process and improve control over your transactions. You can pay for cargo delivery from the mobile trucking app right after the shipment is finished without the need to fuss with cash or any bank transfers. After the shipper found a carrier with trucks that can handle your cargo, you can review the offer in detail and decide if the requested price meets your requirements. After the carrier loaded the cargo and started transportation, a corresponding message will be sent to you via email or mobile app. The payment for delivery will be automatically sent to the carrier after the shipment is finished. In case of any complaints from your side caused by delays or any other issues mentioned in the agreement, the system can automatically set a fine for the carrier.
The rating system is useful both for shippers and carriers. When you book a truck to deliver a valuable cargo, you want to make sure that you deal with a responsible and professional employee. Choosing a truck driver that was rated highly by previous customers, you can avoid reputational losses and save your money. Carriers, in their turn, will receive an efficient tool for assessing their employees’ efficiency.
Features for Carriers
Without access to comprehensive shipment details, carries can’t be sure that they have enough resources to deal with the order successfully. Such info about the cargo as its weight, fragility, pick-up and drop-off locations, and delivery time should be presented in a clear, readable format. If cargo is sensitive to humidity changes, the carrier should be notified to ensure appropriate conditions. If a shipper is not sure about some details, such as the number of trucks required, shipment details should reflect this info as well. The carrier can contact the client and offer an option that better suits the situation.
Order management can provide detailed information on all active, assigned, planned, and completed delivery orders. This data should be updated in real-time to provide information on the current state of events and help to make changes in case of unforeseen circumstances.
Route optimization can help to choose quicker routes and avoid costly delays. GPS devices can track vehicle routes in real-time and display them on a map. If there are any traffic jams, road repairs, or accidents, the route will be automatically optimized to minimize the delivery time.
Features for Administrators
Administrators should be provided with access to all information provided both by shippers and carriers. All this data gathered and sorted, can be represented as an interactive dashboard that simplifies its understanding and helps to gather sufficient insights. Administrators can monitor the condition of all available vehicles and plan maintenance activities according to the diagnostic info collected by GPS tracking devices.
Analyzing drivers’ behavior companies can prevent poor driving habits and decrease costs on fuel. For example, going just a few miles per hour over the speed limit may do not seem as dangerous, but it leads to additional fuel waste. Furthermore, predictive analytics can help to forecast some significant trends beforehand. For example, such apps can inform you about the upcoming seasonal demand for perishable products. With this info in mind, you’ll know when it’s time to ensure the availability of vehicles that can handle such deliveries.
During the development of a full-featured Uber-like trucking app for trucking, you should consider the requirements of both shippers and carriers. Shippers should be provided with the possibility to create and manage orders using a mobile or web app. An interactive map that allows reviewing the current location of vehicles will help to monitor the current status of delivery and ensure cargo safety. The use of IoT devices can provide additional info, such as the current temperature of the cargo. Carries should be able to review all active orders, assign drivers, and get access to optimized routes to avoid delays. An administrator dashboard is a tool that helps to analyze all gathered info on deliveries and draw conclusions on the effectiveness of interaction between shippers and carriers. Then, this data can be used to develop more efficient business strategy.
At XB Software, we have significant experience in logistics software development. Our developers have significant experience in web and mobile development with the use of modern technologies such as React, Vue.js, Node.js, and many others. If you’re not sure about the features that your trucking app should include, our business analysts can conduct an in-depth analysis of your business to provide a list of software solutions to your issues. If you want to know more about trucking apps, contact us to receive a free consultation.
Originally published at https://xbsoftware.com/blog/cargo-trucking-app-like-uber/