FreightTech 25: Echo Global rolling out an updated tool for its LTL business

Echo Global Logistics–number 20 on the FreightTech Top 25 list for 2018–is wrapping up the year by rolling out an update to its EchoShip service targeted at the LTL market.

There aren’t many details on the rollout, though Echo Global, one of the largest 3PL companies, provided FreightWaves with a link to a video about the new service. Its primary functions are the same as the system it is updating: to be a full-service platform for the LTL sector, giving the user the ability to book and track shipments, and manage invoices but with user interface improvements that were touted in an interview Miles English, the company’s CIO, conducted with FreightWaves.

The new EchoShip “simplifies the way” users quote prices, book shipments and then track them, according to the video. It allows the users to “stay informed” with “critical information” during the entire process, from booking to final delivery.

In the video, EchoShip gives the user the ability to sort and filter several parts of the transaction. The options open to the users can be sorted by carrier preference, the desired price, transit time and several other features.

But English added that the updated EchoShip will have a new user interface and an “easier user experience. It is a piece of technology we are really excited about.”

EchoShip is one part of four primary technology offerings that form the core of the company’s technology package:

* EchoDrive, which it describes as the digital platform for Echo’s “carrier partners….to streamline booking, tracking and accounting operations.”

* EchoTrack, which is a web portal aimed at “large, frequent shippers” like those for whom Echo is providing managed transportation services.

* The Core Platform, a transportation management tool which includes load matching, sourcing and freight tracking.

“Essentially the kind of technology that have been used in the four walls of Echo are all integrated into an integrated platform, and that has been our success for the last 13 years,” English told FreightWaves, referring to the amount of time Echo has been around. 

English said Echo Global has a “user experience group” that performs a great deal of up-front work. “We don’t just say we’re going to build an app for something,” he said. “We look at what customers and carriers like to use, and that’s how we build our road map.”

One thing that the technology does not do now is take the broker out of the equation following load-matching activities. The challenge of doing that was discussed in a recent interview that Echo Global CEO Doug Waggoner conducted with FreightWaves. Waggoner talked about the pure sweep of the number of companies Echo utilizes or services: 40,000 active shippers and 50,000 trucking companies. “It’s impossible to get all those companies to adopt a single technology and if you can’t get to that tipping point a broker’s always going to be able to find a better price,” he said. “If we can make the contacts electronically, there is value with having scale and power.”

English offered up a similar sentiment. Echo Global has a strategic analytics group that “looks at how we can further automate the process,” he said. “But at the end of the day, the process is complicated. There are ways we can automate certain things and that is what we will continue to do using our analytics capabilities.” But the complexity of the supply chain will still need human intervention.

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