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How Uber Freight enables new efficiencies for shippers with APIs

July 2, 2020 / US
How Uber Freight enables new efficiencies for shippers with APIs

Uber Freight was founded on a core belief that logistics should be instant and easy, and that through technology we will solve the key challenges facing shippers and carriers in today’s market. 

Historically, pricing in freight was an inefficient and opaque process that didn’t always reflect supply and demand in the marketplace. At Uber Freight, we work with many large shippers, some of whom have months-long bidding processes before they finalize their rates. Far-off decision horizons mean that plans aren’t adaptable to real-time market realities, and significant portions of any given shipper’s freight can end up on the spot market. Ultimately, both RFP and spot bidding processes are time-consuming and inflexible. 

Real-time freight means instant pricing and tendering. Right now, shippers are looking for visibility into current market conditions so they can make faster decisions and bolster resilience in their supply chains. Some shippers are even retiring their old spot load boards completely and moving to 100% instant pricing and tendering for spot needs.

At Uber Freight, we’ve led the industry in direct API integrations—functionally faster and more stable than traditional methods—and partnered with providers like BluJay, Oracle, and SAP to bring real-time pricing and instant capacity to shippers within the transportation management systems they already use. Our direct API integrations lead to reduced overhead costs; flexible, scalable operations for shippers; and world-class customer experiences.

APIs are critical to building resilient supply chains in a changing market, especially as COVID-19 has upended norms and changed procurement standards. In March and April, when the market was particularly volatile, we saw an increase of more than 150% in load volume from shippers using the Uber Freight API. As of June, our API volume remains up by more than 100% compared with pre-pandemic levels. 

Shippers who were early adopters of APIs and have real-time pricing at the core of their load-planning strategy have sustained the largest API volume increases throughout the pandemic. Let’s explore some of the benefits of APIs in supply chains in more detail: 

Productivity and insights

Picture this scenario: a load planner finds out they need to ship an extra 10 loads tomorrow on a new lane. Using the traditional methods to get a rate, they would start calling or emailing carriers, or post loads to an internal spot board and wait for carriers to respond. Each of these options requires multiple parties interacting and responding, all while trucks on the open market are getting booked and prices are increasing. 

Now imagine the alternative: as soon as those load requests were generated in the system for a new lane, they simultaneously hit Uber Freight’s instant pricing API, received a rate, used standard business logic to determine that the rate was in an appropriate price range, and tendered the load. The load was booked within minutes instead of hours or even longer. No calls, no emails.

We know that every minute makes a difference in logistics, particularly when markets are tight. In the scenario above, the load planner never had to lift a finger, and they’re now equipped with data to make immediate, informed decisions.


It’s not just about information. APIs also help ensure reliability and consistency. Shippers want resiliency in their supply chains and are looking for new ways to deliver consistent, excellent customer experiences amid uncertainty in the market.

Delays affect reliability. During disruptions and surges, it’s particularly important to move quickly when tendering freight. Uber Freight’s instant prices are guaranteed prices, and we provide pricing with as little as 4 hours before pickup. Uber Freight also provides guaranteed spot rates, by day, for up to 14 days, all available instantly. Proactive 14-day planning and reactive decision-making capabilities means the ability to deliver consistent, world-class customer experiences with every load, no matter the market conditions. 

A touchless load is also a more reliable load. From quoting to booking to tracking, removing touches in the load accelerates information and reduces the chance for errors leading to missed pickups or bad data, all improving reliability. Uber is leading the way in touchless loads, creating a truly self-healing and highly reliable network. 

If your routing guide is falling apart in a tough market, how valuable is it to know that you have an ever-present backup plan?

Lower prices

The market can shift quickly, and knowing where prices are at any given time helps shippers save money and make better procurement decisions. While there are several providers of good market rate information available, their information is typically days or weeks old. The rates shippers have saved in their routing guides are often months old. 

Uber Freight’s real-time rates are backed by real-time capacity and serviced with our high quality standards. If the market has moved to your advantage, or you quoted a backup rate that is now months old, you’re likely missing an easy opportunity to save on your transportation costs. 

When the market is softening, shippers are often the last to hear about it. While it doesn’t make sense to float your full transportation budget with the market, you’re likely already exposed to the market.

Optimizing shipper operations with APIs 

Our goal from day one has been to simplify shipper operations across the board. Uber Freight’s pricing API eliminates countless hours of manual labor for shippers, reducing friction and replacing time-intensive processes. APIs maximize efficiency and source instant, reliable capacity, strengthening supply chains and allowing shippers to provide the best possible customer service at a critical time in the industry.

To learn more about how to implement instant pricing and what options are available, visit our enterprise shipper website.

Bill Driegert is Uber Freight’s Head of Operations.

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