Pricing transparency eases marketplace friction, says Uber Freight’s Bill Driegert

Every second counts in the freight industry, especially during a pandemic, said Bill Driegert, Uber Freight co-founder and head of operations.

Driegert said when freight volumes were spiking in late March because consumers were hoarding supermarket staples, Uber Freight was able to help a shipper set up an application programming interface (API).

“As the market was surging, we had one enterprise shipper who reached out to get an API set up; we were able to get the shipper set up in four hours, and within two hours, they had moved their first load,” Driegert said.

Driegert said going forward the shipper was now able to get prices, move loads in seconds, and “be confident that they’re getting a real-time capacity and a real-time price and a guarantee.”

Driegert’s comments are part of a presentation titled “Responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic With Real-Time Logistics Technology” during FreightWaves LIVE @HOME on Thursday.

The Uber Freight app, which connects trucking companies with loads to haul, was launched in 2017. Uber Freight is a logistics platform powered by Uber (NYSE: UBER).

Driegert said Uber Freight’s core mission is to “simplify the movement of goods to help communities thrive.”

“When we think about the Uberization of freight, we think first about reliability, second is flexibility and third is transparency,” Driegert said.

For the freight industry, Driegert said the coronavirus pandemic unfolded in four phases:

  • The initial surge
  • Demand drop
  • Stabilization
  • Recovery

“The initial surge, we saw several weeks of volume ramp-ups. As people went to the stores, they stocked up, they bought more toilet paper and bought a lot of the consumables. But then once they were stocked up and their pantry was full, we saw the demand drop off quite precipitously,” Driegert said. “Now we’re starting to see it stabilize.”

Driegert said the last phase, recovery, is on the way, but no one is quite sure what it will look like.

“We expect things to still remain low year-over-year, the second quarter [of 2020] will actually probably be the toughest hit for certain sectors and commodities,” Driegert said. “The unknown here is how quickly supply will leave the market and how rates will be affected in the balance of supply.”

Driegert said it’s very hard to predict which sectors will recover more quickly than others.

“Home consumables may continue to see that surge,” Driegert said. “From a supply chain perspective, we can expect that a lot of the fundamental shifts that occur will be very slow. It’s not something that’s going to happen in two to three months.”