February 2001 | Commentary | Supply Chain Technology

New Logistics Portal Saves Money on Every Shipment

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Supply chain portals are growing in number, uniqueness, and breadth of service to all partners. They will continue to grow, given the ever-increasing usefulness of conducting supply chain management on the web and the constant growth of new technologies in this area.

One new portal, which went live in November 2000, is worth noting. LTLNET.com, Boca Raton, Fla., offers the shipping community true tariff rates and volume discounts online. In addition, portal members can take advantage of rates that have been pre-negotiated with carriers. These discounts can be substantial—more than 50 percent—and they hold at the time of quotation.

LTLNET's services also include online bill of lading tendering and real-time reports for online freight bill auditing, as well as a broad range of carriers for shippers to consider.

Jonathan M. Gloss is LTLNET's founder and president. He brings to this business solid experience in logistics and the Internet. "LTLNET's most unique aspect is that we provide true price comparisons by tariff or the discounted rate the carrier gives to the shipper," Gloss says. "And we have a strictly hands-off policy when it comes to transactions."

In fact, LTLNET's core uniqueness is its independence from any direct affiliation, and therefore unbiased presentation of rates. This aspect of the portal's offering underscores its strong stand on not acting as a broker, and leaving the negotiation strictly between the central parties. While LTLNET is not a broker, it does have a secure server for all user transactions.

What market does LTLNET.com target? "It really shines as a powerful and affordable solution for small and mid-sized shippers who are interested in saving money on every shipment," Gloss says. "But, because our products are so unique, we offer something for everyone.

"For instance, LTLNET allows large companies to analyze information. They can manage their core carriers' base tariffs and discount levels, and compare them to the open market."

The difference between LTLNET and its competitors regarding the portal's presentation and function, and type and range of technology, is that LTLNET allows the shipper to access information quickly without having to learn the technology. LTLNET.com's Rateit engine was developed to have the same look and feel as the rate diskettes common carriers give to their customers.

LTLNET's relationship with less-than-truckload carriers started out rocky, but is now smooth. "At first the carriers were wary about giving us the rates," Gloss admits. "So many other portals have used their rates and misrepresented them in one way or another.

"Once the idea took form, however, carriers began knocking on our door, asking us to put them on the web site. That's how we built the largest database of carriers' rates on the Internet," he says.

LTLNET works with more than 70 national and regional carriers, including Consolidated Freightways, Roadway, Overnite, Old Dominion, and Super Transport. "We act as the Internet sales arm for the carriers and complement their existing marketing and sales infrastructure," Gloss notes. "We do not receive commissions or charge carriers to be on our web site."

LTLNET makes available a process called Daily Dynamic Discounts, or D3. "This is discounting on the site that works for both the carriers and the shippers," Gloss explains. "It gives carriers the ability to change the discount base on their own supply and demand to and from any ZIP code in the United States. As a result, shippers can receive a lower rate that can change daily."

If a carrier has empty trucks, or a less than busy day, it can change its discount to reflect a better pricing picture using LTLNET's Rateit engine. The ultimate benefit, of course, is to the shipper.

LTLNET is one of the few independent web sites in alignment with the Southern Motor Carrier Conference (SMC3). Another advantage: LTLNET requires no downloading because it runs on the user's browser. This provides an easy-to-use interface with carriers.

You can check out LTLNET at www.ltlnet.com. It's a web site that's more than just promotion; shippers and carriers can sign up and get started right away.

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