In Logistics, There Are Some Things An App Cannot Replace
Thursday, July 9, 2020

By Eric Skiba

This spring, Uber Technologies announced it was closing 45 offices and laying off thousands of employees. While it is certainly nothing to celebrate, it does draw attention to the role of automation in the logistics industry. How far can it go in adding value to the services we provide? And how much automation is too much?

At Nationwide Logistics, we believe technology plays a role in helping the logistics industry move forward. We are always seeking new ways for technology to help our agents, but its value is in how it helps people do their jobs better, with more efficiency and greater focus on their customers’ needs. What the tech companies offering completely automated logistics transactions via apps are missing is the value that experienced and committed people bring to the work. And it’s why we think some of them are struggling.

What keeps the logistics industry moving is the strength of human relationships — and those are irreplaceable. They also cannot be accomplished with the click of an app. They take time and ongoing conversations and work to develop.

When we look at the relationships we have with agents, carriers and customers, several strengths rise to the top. Here’s what we see as the top benefits that a freight brokerage staffed by real people can provide, that an automated app just cannot match.

Trust and confidence

People prefer to do business with people. And the cheapest truck doesn’t always turn out to be the best truck for the run. Many factors can arise to drive the truck’s cost up during a run. A freight agent works to develop relationships with reliable carriers in lanes so that their customers don’t have to worry about their freight and wildly fluctuating costs. And when the people loading and unloading a truck see familiar faces moving the loads, this builds their confidence, too.

Customized solutions

Those same longstanding relationships that build trust and confidence allow us to analyze the nuances of a situation and customize a solution to fit. For example, our accounts payable team frequently talks with the same accounting teams from our carriers and factoring companies. Over time, they know the unique needs those accounting teams have, and can ensure that the solution they are offering and information they are sharing apply to the challenges of their work.

Speed and adaptability

Automated systems don’t allow for much flexibility. If an agent needs to find out how to do something through our TMS system, Aljex, they could spend their time researching the solution and watching videos that are available. However, if they have a shipment in hand from a customer that needs to be picked up ASAP — and a driver who is waiting to pick up the load — they may not have the time to navigate Aljex on their own. But with one quick call or email to us, we can quickly provide an answer or make the change on the load, freeing them up to keep things moving smoothly for their customers.

Real-time and after-hours support

Technology can break down. Issues can pop up. If an agent is trying to get something done in the middle of the night or on a holiday, but they’re hitting roadblocks, automated systems can feel frustrating, fast. We can jump in and help in real time, so they don’t feel stuck trying to work through a complicated system on their own. This not only helps agents keep things running smoothly, it keeps loads moving for customers and avoids carriers getting stuck without a load to move. And our agents can attest.

“When Nationwide Logistics says they are committed to working shoulder to shoulder with their agents, they mean it,” says Jason Hunt, a Nationwide Logistics agent in Missouri. “No matter the time of day, they are always available with guidance and support.”

With tech companies entering the logistics business, it’s natural to feel like they present a threat to freight brokers. The idea of moving freight with the ease of an app sounds efficient and time saving. But the logistics industry is so much more than the ability to make it that simple. Experienced brokers who are backed by a supportive team can build a reputation and career that an app can never replicate.

To learn more about Nationwide Logistics and how our agent program can help you minimize the time you spend on administrative tasks so you can focus on growing relationships and growing your business as an independent agent, visit us at