CarrierLists, a firm that surveys small trucking carriers about their equipment, location and preferred lanes, has published the results of its digital freight brokerage/load-matching app study. In a survey conducted during January 2019, 113 small carriers (three trucks or fewer) answered questions about which load-matching apps they had downloaded and which ones they used on a regular basis. This is the first time CarrierLists has asked this group of carriers these questions about app downloads and use.
‘Stickiness’ is an important measure of the success of mobile applications because raw download numbers do not accurately measure how engaged the app’s users are, and in the case of a digital brokerage, how dense its network is. Stickiness is the rate that apps can convert downloads into regular users.
The overall most-downloaded and most-used app by small carriers should not come as a surprise: 64 percent of respondents said they had downloaded DAT Mobile; and 62 percent of respondents said they used DAT Mobile regularly, translating to a ‘stickiness’ of 96 percent. DAT Mobile’s main load board competitor, Truckstop Mobile, was downloaded by 34 percent of respondents and used regularly by 30 percent, with a stickiness of 89 percent.
While DAT Mobile was the most-downloaded app by 19 percentage points, the second tier of apps by download were clustered between download rates of 45 percent and 39 percent and are probably best distinguished based on stickiness.
Convoy was the second-most downloaded app, with 45 percent of respondents reporting they had downloaded the app, and converted 62 percent of its downloads into regular users. C.H. Robinson’s (NASDAQ: CHRW) Navisphere came next in downloads at 42 percent of respondents, but posted an impressive 74 percent stickiness. Next on the downloads list was CoyoteGo, which 40 percent of respondents said they had downloaded. CoyoteGo’s stickiness was even higher than Convoy’s or Navisphere’s at 84 percent, the highest retention rate for any widely downloaded non-load board app.
Uber Freight and Trucker Path also both posted download rates of 40 percent; Uber Freight had a stickiness of 60 percent while Trucker Path retained regular users at a 47 percent rate.
“For all the talk of the disrupters entering the space with new technology, the incumbents are still in a strong position in the freight matching market,” said Kevin Hill, President of CarrierLists.
In perspective, it’s logical that established third-party logistics providers like C.H. Robinson and Coyote would have the stickiest apps and the most engaged users while the growth-mode upstarts are still trying to find enough freight to feed their carriers.
The full results of the carrier survey are displayed below:
(Note: J.B. Hunt Carrier 360 was apparently not included among the options in CarrierLists’ survey).
Scaling a digital brokerage is a classic chicken-or-the-egg problem – shippers want access to carriers as a prerequisite for giving freight, and carriers need plentiful loads moving through many markets in order to stay connected. There’s no real moat that protects one app from another –it costs nothing for a driver to delete an app and download another – and in fact it is clear from the statistics published above that most drivers must be regularly using more than one app.
Hill made the point that it is not the case that the disruptors have broken away from the incumbents to dominate the space. The corollary of that, though, is that digital brokerage is still anyone’s game, as illustrated by the cluster of large enterprises – both newcomer and incumbent – at roughly the same download rate and similar levels of stickiness.