" asks Steve Gabrielson, president, Direct Freight Services, an online freight-matching site.
Shippers have been slow to make the jump to online freight-swapping portals, while carriers, owner-operators, and brokers are frequent users.
Even today, as the Hurricane Katrina reconstruction effort brings carriers to the Gulf Coast, capacity is becoming tighter in other U. Small shippers dealing directly with carriers through load-matching portals gain the ability to reduce shipping costs.
They can dispense with the middleman, save money on brokerage fees, and have more direct control over shipments, which is critical when they have to manage exceptions and reroute movements.
Companies moving a small number of shipments may be best served by bringing brokerage activity in-house and availing themselves of online freight databases, suggests Gabrielson.
Large shippers find similar advantages in controlling their inbound shipments and offering better customer service.
My "imposter" status was quickly uncovered, but the learning experience was valuable nonetheless.
While I could only go so far in my search without actually negotiating a price and tendering a load, "real" shippers have the added burden of trusting cargo to a carrier or broker they are often not familiar with.
The rest of the listed sites, however, were in line with what I was looking for.
I decided to check out freightquote.com, which lets shippers register an account and post loads at no charge.
For time-critical shipments especially, businesses may be better served working with a broker whose primary responsibility is to find trucks.
"Most shippers are willing to pay brokerage fees if they can get what they need," says Gabrielson.
Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Universal Forest Products Inc.