Home > Amazon Freight Newsroom > Building capacity and resiliency through strong freight relationships
Workers in a yard.
December 15, 2023
Building capacity and resiliency through strong freight relationships
What is the key to shippers successfully navigating changes to their transportation networks, especially during the pandemic? Relationships. Shippers relied on connections with their freight service providers to help them weather the ups and downs and will undoubtedly be building and strengthening them to navigate the future.

We know this from a report by Amazon Freight and Supply Chain Quarterly. When asked why shippers changed their freight procurement strategies during the pandemic, 18% said building better relationships was a top reason.

While 18% might not seem significant, survey comments made it clear shippers have recognized the value of strong connections. As one respondent said, they discovered their relationships pre-pandemic were simply transactional and knew “it was critical for us to be able to pick up the phone, so, we put an emphasis on partnerships.”

It boils down to trust. "The key is being transparent about your priorities and business needs as well as having open communication when facing challenges,” says Matt Harris, Amazon Freight’s Head of Enterprise Sales, who works with our largest shippers every day. “You need a provider who can execute at a high level through an ever-changing freight industry and not just when convenient to them.”

From both a shipper and freight service provider’s perspective, there is a critical human element to building relationships to solve problems. Many shippers see value in looking beyond just rates and focusing on a provider’s willingness and capability to engage at a deeper level versus a more transactional approach.

To help you get there, here are four pieces of advice Harris has.

Articulate your needs: Accurate and detailed information, including handling needs, shipping volumes, and forecasts, is an integral part of finding the right match for loads. Building a relationship starts with understanding each other’s requirements and innerworkings.

“Every shipper has its unique needs and often knows best which lanes may cause challenges for a transportation provider,” says Harris. For instance, if you have lanes going into facilities that often face capacity constraints, it’s helpful to know that upfront so your provider can explore solutions such as drop trailer programs or batching appointments to help avoid problems.

Sharing specific details will help them make decisions such as if an asset-based provider can handle the shipments or if a broker is a better option. When it comes to working with brokers, such information also helps them find the best carrier, offer more accurate pricing, and find cost-saving opportunities.

Know what you’re getting: As the report found, shippers’ interactions with providers is often transactional. Still, shippers need to be clear about what freight service providers are offering beyond competitive rates: the extra value they can offer and what happens if something goes wrong. A dialogue on their ability to meet your expectations is key, while recognizing that each freight provider could approach it differently.

Shippers must also be selective about who they trust with their freight. If there is an accident or freight goes missing, you need a provider with the capability to handle claims thoroughly and a dedication to prevent the issue in the future.

Communicate frequently: Regular and transparent communication is vital in any relationship and even more so in freight where multiple parties can be involved.

“Early on in an engagement, I would encourage weekly check-ins on performance, capacity, and any challenges being faced,” Harris recommends. “Hold your provider accountable for building bridges to what is not working and for creating action plans to address issues but be open to tackling the problems together.”

You also want to make sure you set up some time and give your them an opportunity to talk and explore ideas. In those conversations, Harris advises that both sides highlight opportunities for improvement and identify any issues keeping them from performing at a high level. Tactical collaboration in day-to-day operations, such as responding promptly to inquiries and providing updates if things change also improve performance and trust.

Think long-term: Building relationships is about more than finding immediate solutions. It's about cultivating long-term alliances that can grow over time. “Networks are constantly changing: what you are selling, where your customers are buying, where you are sourcing from, the velocity and budgets,” Harris says. “Think about how the relationships can help you plan and execute in the context of network shifts and find providers who are willing to help you solve the hard problems versus only taking business when it’s easy for them.”

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in relationships as well. "Shippers and providers want to automate the transactional lifecycle, including adopting APIs to meet the need for dynamic rating and near real-time visibility," Harris says. “This will help remove inefficiencies from the supply chain and will focus the value of relationships on driving more material value rather than simply being present.”

Next steps
Transportation strategies and the relationships that support them are a work in progress. The report found that 57% of shippers expect their strategies to change even further over the coming year, making it more important to transition from transactional interactions to long-term relationships.

Are you ready to see how Amazon Freight can help your shipping needs? Contact us.
More from the Amazon Freight Newsroom
Shippers working in a warehouse.
Amazon expert guidance: DEI tips for shippers
Where do you begin when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion at your shipping organization? You want to start small and get the whole team involved.
A shipper booking a load.
Creating your Amazon Freight shipper account takes just 2 steps
Shippers are making progress towards using tech to book their loads, but there is still work to be done. That’s why we have Amazon Freight’s user-friendly portal.
Conditions of use Privacy Notice
© 1996-2023, Amazon Freight is offered by Amazon Logistics, Inc., a freight broker licensed under MC826094.