6 Ways Shippers Can Add Confidence and Clarity to the RFP Process

6 Ways Shippers Can Add Confidence and Clarity to the RFP Process

The request-for-proposal process can be an opportunity for shippers to manage network costs and enable new business opportunities. Below are 6 tips for a successful RFP.

For shippers, the RFP is an opportunity to manage network costs and enable new business opportunities. Analytics bring confidence and clarity to the process, ensuring you’re diversifying your network to ensure dependable capacity at predictable rates. Here are 6 best practices for a successful RFP.


1. Conduct a historical performance analysis.

Plan ahead by looking to the past. Identify carrier performance patterns on key metrics like tender acceptance and on-time service. Isolate the lanes that need better optimization based on volume and importance to your network. This will inform the next steps for the RFP.

2. Set market benchmarks.

Calibrate target rates using benchmark analysis and rate ranges that will accommodate changes in volume throughout your annual cycle. Comparing existing incumbent rates to your market benchmarks will save time and money by carrying over incumbent lane awards that are already within acceptable range.

3. Leverage the power of forecasting.

Slice rate forecasts into monthly or quarterly projections for better accuracy. Review historic contract and spot rates when evaluating rates in carrier bids to improve your position in negotiations. Use forecasts to set realistic cost expectations based on projected cost increases from capacity shortages, as well as periods of rate relief from a softening market.

4. Get specific with seasonal volumes.

An annual volume number omits vital information on surges and seasonality. Improve bid accuracy by including weekly or monthly numbers from historical analysis and forecasting. Call out abnormal volume spikes to avoid catching carriers by surprise. Provide ample details on the network’s key lanes so carriers understand expectations up front and bid intelligently to offer accurate and enduring rates.

5. Align carriers with your capacity needs.

Identify transportation providers with capacity that aligns with your network’s needs. Inviting a robust, diverse set of carriers to bid on your key lanes will help deepen your capacity coverage. To that end, building and maintaining a robust list of potential asset and non-asset transportation providers will help generate a robust set of bids to evaluate.

6. Develop an “ideal carrier profile.”

Pre-qualify the right carriers in high-priority lanes by creating an ideal carrier profile that outlines the key traits of a carrier that can support your network requirements. Include details in the selection process such as contact information, certifications, fleet size, safety rating, and insurance coverage. For a deeper dive, consider implementing analytics tools that show carriers’ recent market activity to confirm they have capacity and interest in your lanes.

Aiming for a Better RFP

Today’s RFP process can be an opportunity to refine your network and give your team the confidence to navigate any shifting market conditions. Fully taking advantage of that opportunity requires deep insights into your network’s performance compared to the broader market.

Partnering with a transportation data provider with a robust data set and clear market benchmarks is essential to approaching your RFP with confidence.

About Bryan Peace: As associate director of product marketing, Bryan Peace leads the positioning, messaging, and go-to-market initiatives for the DAT’s shipper segment. Peace joined DAT in November 2020, bringing a decade of experience defining go-to-market strategies for cutting-edge analytics offerings. To learn more, visit dat.com/knowledgebase