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For the majority of 2023, shippers have been navigating a more favorable national freight market. As last year wrapped with a gradual loosening of capacity and lower spot rates, the industry settled into a deflationary period. Decline in retail sales, manufacturing output, and imports continues to decrease freight demand and create surplus in capacity – resulting in a soft market. This softness is expected to persist through the end of the year leading allowing shippers the perfect opportunity to prepare for the next market cycle and inevitable shift towards a freight surplus and ensuing capacity crunch. The question is: What are shippers doing with their time right now? During this favorable market, it might seem counterintuitive to delve into the world of managed transportation services and develop new partnerships with a freight broker while demand is low. On the contrary, forward thinking shippers are implementing strategies to maximize cost savings with lower rates now and be better positioned for the market rebound. This is the perfect time to develop and deepen your shipper and carrier network. While upholding fruitful business relationships with incumbent carriers is vital to ensuring reliability and predictability across their supply chains, loosening capacity also means there’s more competition among carriers for freight. Shippers now have the leeway to test new prospects alongside their existing carrier base. Don’t be afraid of the spot market — let the Business Development team at Ella Bay help you to strategically sort your volume. We would love the opportunity to demonstrate how to migrate an acceptable amount of volume to the spot market and take advantage of it. With supply and demand in positive equilibrium right now, risk is mitigated — making it the perfect “lab” environment where shippers can explore new strategies. As spot rates are currently lower than contract amounts, shippers can also explore the spot market to drive costs down. For example, larger shippers could consider moving some portion of freight to the spot market to take advantage of low rates while they still can. An example might be low-volume lanes or even a small percentage of high-volume static lanes. Tapping into Ella Bay’s managed transportation services will equip shippers with customized solutions, enabling a unique supply chain operational approach and unlocking advanced decision-making abilities for bigger-picture strategy. When the market eventually tightens, shippers who have implemented these strategies will be able to operate more efficiently than ever before. Managed transportation partners like Ella Bay Logistics can help shippers maximize on these strategies and more. At the end of the day, choosing Ella Bay as your managed transportation partner enables you to make decisions, remaining ahead of the curve and reduce vulnerability to volatile market swings. Beth Tucker, Ella Bay Logistics