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January 20, 2023
What will 2023 have in store for freight?
What 2023 will mean for freight is difficult to predict. Most of us hadn’t anticipated the full extent of the recent increase in volatility brought on by macro conditions, especially the waxing, waning, and reshaping of global supply chains, among other concerns.

The good news is that we’re an industry used to thriving in uncertainty.

As we look ahead, we had a chance to talk with Hannah McClellan, Vice President of Amazon Freight, about how we should approach 2023 now that we’re likely facing a prolonged period of volatility. Here are the insights she offered about how Amazon Freight is tackling 2023 and some lessons for shippers to help them overcome whatever the year has in store.

The hunt for prices and reliability will continue
Regardless of fluctuating external conditions, shippers’ key concerns remain consistent. According to recent industry research from B2B International, 45% of shippers indicate cost and 57% indicate reliability as the top attributes when selecting a freight transportation service provider.

“We continue to invest in our forecasting systems to better predict external conditions, but I think it’s even more important to be innovative when it comes to managing price volatility,” says McClellan. “We know pricing volatility is a big pain point for shippers, so to allay their concerns, we’ve built a tech solution that allows for pricing confidence. Effectively what this means is that we strive for consistency in pricing to mitigate that variability and help our customers make sound decisions—especially in times of uncertainty.”

This translates into competitive rates for customers.

One way that Amazon Freight does so is through automation. For example, we embrace APIs to give shippers an effective way to integrate a transportation management system (TMS) with a freight provider so they have access to quotes, tendering, tracking, and other data. Not only does this speed up the booking process, it also provides more real-time data to help shippers make decisions. For some, it gives them a chance to connect directly to their carriers of choice.

Partnerships remain key
Amazon Freight upholds Amazon’s leadership principle of Customer Obsession, which includes focusing on high service levels and fostering deep relationships with shippers. After all, regardless of the most cutting-edge tech advancements, relationships still are very important in the freight business.

That’s why, since our inception, we’ve listened carefully to our customers’ pain points, which are inherent in today’s fast-moving and complex supply chain. As we’ve built and scaled our capabilities, we’ve harnessed customer learnings to put a new spin on product development and deliver for the industry. As a result, today, we partner with shippers of all shapes and sizes—from big enterprises to small businesses.

When asked how she has approached developing deep relationships with shippers, McClellan says, “We listen more than we talk, and our customers appreciate it. When you have a transparent dialogue about what is and isn’t working with your customers, you prove that you are flexible and willing to listen. This really builds trust.”

While risk is inevitable in the freight industry, investing in relationships can help businesses in the long term. “We have listened to and learned so much from our shippers. I have confidence that we can overcome whatever 2023 has in store for us because we have laid the foundation to work with our shippers in managing through challenges.”

Getting greener is imperative
Sustainability is a growing concern for shippers, especially when it comes to optimized route planning to reduce empty miles. “Many shippers want to know they are shipping with a company that takes sustainability seriously. That’s where our commitment to The Climate Pledge comes in.”

At Amazon Freight, we are making every effort we can to help Amazon achieve net-zero carbon by 2040. This includes optimizing our network for the best routes and shifting how much we fill our trailers to increase density. Our approach delivers a competitive cost structure and an environmentally-friendly offering for customers.

It also means we are seeking short- and long-term solutions. To do so, we are simultaneously scaling lower-emission efforts that are currently available today, such as trucks powered by renewable natural gas, as we work toward being less reliant on using diesel in the future.

Safety will get smarter
When asked what we should expect in 2023, McClellan says, “We’ve come a long way from the days when seat belts and underride guards constituted safety in trucking. Tech has enabled us to proactively avoid accidents altogether, and our Safety Teams are delivering innovative solutions that really raise the bar for the industry as a whole. We are excited to be a leader in this space.”

Amazon Freight is investing more than a billion dollars to create a best-in-class safe trailer fleet by implementing state-of-the-art safety tech such as trailer sensors, anti-lock braking systems, automatic tire inflation, and more.

Safety is the biggest driver of our technology investments. And we use innovative machine learning and algorithms to plan optimal routes, proactively identify and overcome disruptions in real time, and maintain a reliable thread of communication with carriers and drivers. This is all part of our effort to build and maintain the safest transportation network possible.

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