2023 was a challenging year in the freight industry.
Though it didn’t have the wild, headline-grabbing supply chain volatility of 2022, last year presented its own difficulties.
Though many shippers experienced declining freight rates and plenty of available carrier capacity, they also had to combat persistent inflation across other areas of their business amidst lagging demand from their customers.
All this led to a lot of financial pressure for carriers and 3PLs — and Coyote was no exception.
Is Coyote Still Healthy?
Given our position as a wholly owned subsidiary, we don’t typically comment on our finances, but given some recent headlines, we wanted to take this opportunity to be a bit more candid than usual.
Though, in many ways, 2023 was the most difficult year we've seen for the industry in our 16-year history, we were able to maintain a stable, sustainable freight network.
Coyote is still a leading 3PL — both in size and service — and we’re still profitable.
Yes, logistics can be a volatile business, but we’ve been here before (many times), and always come out bigger and better than before.
In fact, we’ve been publishing proprietary data on that very volatility for five years.
And most importantly, we’re still here for the shippers and carriers in our network (and they love working with us, see below).
We aren’t going anywhere.
We want to share a few insights from our annual relationship survey. Hopefully you can pick up a few trends to apply to your supply chain in 2024.
5 Insights From Coyote's Relationship Survey
In mid-December, we ran our annual relationship survey, giving us a pulse check on the health of our customer base.
We asked thousands of shippers how they feel about Coyote and the industry — here’s what they had to say.
Let’s take a quick look at a few trends for shippers in Coyote’s network.
We asked shippers to rate their overall satisfaction with Coyote, and saw a 10.8% increase in satisfaction compared to 2022.
While some of this is certainly due to our continuous improvement efforts, general conditions (competitive market rates, higher tender acceptance) likely attributed a boost in scores.
In fact, year-over-year (Y/Y) comparisons in nearly every category across the entire 45-question survey were up.
2. Shipping freight was easier.
In addition to overall satisfaction, “ease” scores were also up.
When asked how easy it was to do a variety of shipping functions with Coyote, on average, we saw a 10.3% Y/Y increase.
Looking specifically at ease scores within CoyoteGO, our digital freight platform, we saw an average increase of 16.8% Y/Y.
Again, while we made several improvements to customer experience and our digital platform, a portion of this is driven by favorable conditions in a shipper’s market.
3. Technology is not a major deciding factor.
Though self-service options, integrations and automations are becoming table stakes in many areas of freight shipping, technology is still not the deciding factor when shippers evaluate a 3PL.
Across seven different choice factors provides real-time visibility, has noticeably better technology, and integrates with my existing technology were 5th, 6th and 7th, respectively.
What matters is pricing, service and support (more on that below).
When asked about their biggest challenges:
- Only 12% of shippers felt the ability to invest in technology was a top three challenge
- Only 7% of shippers felt that data integrations or keeping up with the latest technology were top three challenges
This tracks with what we’ve seen in the industry recently.
There was a lot of buzz around new, digital-first 3PLs over the last several years, and in 2023, we’ve seen those promises for full automation go largely unfulfilled.
Though technology isn’t going to become less important, it can’t be the only thing, at least not for the current state of freight shipping.
4. In logistics, it’s people that make the difference.
Despite ever-increasing digitization, at the end of the day, logistics is still a relationship-driven business.
We asked shippers that do not currently use our digital freight platform, CoyoteGO, why — over 60% of respondents simply prefer to interact with their rep, which was nearly 3x higher than the second overall reason.
Furthermore, though shippers gave Coyote record-high satisfaction scores, the individual rep scores were even higher.
When asked to rate their overall satisfaction with their Coyote rep or team, shippers gave people, on average, 7.3% higher scores than Coyote as a whole.
Respondents also had the opportunity to give free response feedback about their Coyote experience.
Looking at an analysis of all the feedback, individual rep shout outs were by far and away the most common sentiment — shippers were nearly three times more likely to praise a rep than the second most frequent comment.
Related: Learn how 850 supply chain decision makers balance people & technology
Inflationary pressures to labor, cost of capital, and inventory, combined with slowing consumer demand for goods, created cost pressure on shippers this past year.
And many looked to their freight budgets as a way to reduce costs.
This made 2023 especially difficult for the supply side of the supply chain, including 3PLs and carriers.
After hitting record highs in 2021 and 2022, freight rates plummeted, as reducing cost became more important than high service.
When asked what their biggest challenge was, keeping transportation costs down was a clear number one, with 95% of respondents picking it as a top three challenge.
The second overall challenge (on-time pick up & delivery performance) was a distant second at 48% of respondents, followed by sourcing consistent capacity at 31%.
When asked what most matters when selecting a 3PL provider, has significantly cheaper rates than competitors was the top ranked value factor, followed by provides noticeable better account support (issue resolution, response time, etc.) at two, and provides noticeable better on-time service (hits my KPIs) at three.
While service is still clearly very important to shippers, rate reductions reigned supreme in 2023.
In both of these, service was paramount for shippers.
Will we see a reversal back to service in 2024 as we anticipate the market to shift back in inflationary?
Now Is the Time to Work With Trusted Providers
While there was plenty of available capacity in 2023, the laws of the truckload market cycle dictate that this year will likely represent a move back to a carrier’s market.
And now is the time to populate your routing guide with established providers you can trust.
If you’re a current Coyote customer, or considering us, you’re in good company.
According to our relationship study, a large majority of shippers think that:
- Coyote is an industry-leading 3PL
- Coyote provides better on-time service than the competition
- Coyote is a core part of their supply chain
And that only gets better the more they work with us: Shippers that moved at least one load a week with Coyote had 13% higher satisfaction scores than transactional shippers, and shippers that moved at least one load a day had 18% higher scores.
Though 2023 was, in many ways, the most challenging year in our history, we were able to maintain healthy relationships with shippers and carriers.
All that makes us even more excited about what we’ll be able to do with our customers in 2024.