One of the hottest trucking startups is trying to make America's 1.8 million truck drivers' lives a lot better with freight 'personalization'

truck driverDavid Goldman/AP

  • Trucking is an $800 billion industry that's quickly becoming a tech darling.
  • Transfix, based in New York City, is one of the hottest startups in digital freight brokerage.
  • On Thursday, the company announced that two new products on the app would allow truck drivers to "personalize" their freight.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Online marketplaces are pretty good at recommending the exact sort of products you want. A slew of job-hunt websites are happy to send along potential openings tailored to your field, experience level, and location.

But truck drivers looking for that same sort of detail are often at a loss.

"You hear the term personalization in your day-to-day life," Jonathan Salama, CTO and cofounder of digital freight brokerage Transfix, told Business Insider. "In trucking, it's really hasn't been applied yet and that's where we can apply those concepts through those new products."

Transfix announced on Thursday that it would introduce two new products for its truck drivers:

  • My Lanes recommends lanes to truck drivers based on their preferred rate, types of freight, pickup points, and so on. A trucker who hauls hazmat items and goes back to Chicago every weekend to spend time with their family, for instance, could receive notices for those types of loads.
  • Reserved Loads are My Lanes loads exclusive to top-performing carriers. They expire in 60 minutes, allowing the best truckers to get first dibs on loads that perfectly fit them.

Read more: A longtime Etsy engineering VP just joined one of trucking's hottest startups - and it shows how the $700 billion trucking industry is becoming a tech darling

Transfix is the third-most downloaded app among digital freight brokers, according to a recent UBS transportation report. In January to August 2019, Transfix had a market share of 11% among iOS and Google Play downloads - ranking after Uber Freight (65%) and Convoy (24%).

truckerSuzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Transfix's peers in the digital freight brokerage startup scene has also been pushing for personalized freight.

More than 20% of the miles truckers drive every year are "empty," according to a 2016 report by the American Transportation Research Institute. To combat that, Convoy announced a feature in July that's aimed at easing the financial strain - not to mention the environmental costs - of empty miles in trucking.

The new product, called Automatic Reloads, allows truckers to book a "bundle" of jobs all at once to prevent having to drive empty.

And Uber Freight announced in January that truck drivers using its app would be able to rate the retailers and warehouses they work with. That new tool is aimed at cutting down unpaid detention time, in which truckers lose $1.3 billion annually waiting at warehouses for loads.

Read more: Uber Freight is helping combat a $1.3 billion problem that the trucking industry has ignored for years

In August, Uber Freight head Lior Ron told Business Insider that more than a half of drivers are now leaving reviews for the shippers they work with.

These tools, and their quick adoption by drivers, indicate just how strong the demand is for truckers to have more control of their day-to-day lives on the road. "Think about what percentage of the restaurants you've reviewed before," Ron previously told Business Insider. "It's definitely not anywhere close to 50 percent. (But drivers) are so committed, and they just want to help."

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