Carrier Selection Criteria: Differences among Truckload Motor Carrier Offerings

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Understanding customer criteria for product and service selection is an important consideration in any supplier management and marketing effort. Such an understanding helps to establish key customer-facing performance metrics and pro-vides a means to more clearly define customer value and the factors that may help them establish differential advantage.

In transportation management, research has While such analyses have investigated selection criteria across one or more transportation modes, studies have not considered how such criteria may differ among investigated carrier selection by comparing perceptions of service priorities between carriers and shippers (Premeaux 2002; Premeaux et al. 1995; Abshire and Premeaux 1991). Studies have also addressed carrier selection criteria and processes as one implementation of customer-supplier relationships (Gibson, Rutner and Keller 2002), and as part of a broader service gap analysis framework (Kent and Parker 1999; Hopkins et al. 1993).

specific services offered within a mode. The motor carrier industry, with its alternative forms of equipment and services, provides a context in which to evaluate whether, and to what degree, shipper's rank service attributes differently based on a subset of product/service offerings. This article reports the results of a study which investigated the importance of carrier selection criteria across five truckload (TL) motor carrier service offerings including Dry Van, Temperature Con-trolled, Tank, Intermodal, and Flatbed. An evaluation of how such criteria may differ depending on the primary service requirements of the shipper is also provided.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Research investigating carrier selection criteria has been published in the logistics and distribution literature as well as the marketing literature within the context of customer service elements, service quality delivery and buyer-seller relationships.

Bardi (1973) identified carrier selection criteria and surveyed industry shippers concerned with the movement of household goods. Prior transportation research had been concerned primarily with mode selection characteristics. His study identified 21 relevant carrier selection determinants in areas such as reliability, security, user satisfaction, availability, transit time, costs and others. As he expected, due to the regulatory environment and joint rate publications, transportation cost was found to be less important than other service related characteristics. Factors related to shipment reliability, security, and satisfaction ranked highest among the survey participants.

Prompted by the deregulation of the trans-portation industry, Bruning and Lynagh (1984) investigated the extent to which shippers evaluated carriers, the selection criteria used in those decisions, and how they ranked seven key selection criteria. As part of their analysis, they considered the education level of those individuals responding to the survey, the commodity and industry areas of responding organizations, and the relative Repeating his 1991 study, Premeaux (2002) reassessed carrier and shipper perceptions of weight of the criteria. Their results suggested a positive relationship between education level of respondents and the application of more quantitative/objective evaluation criteria. In addition, they identified variation in the frequency of carrier evaluation among industries, types of commodities transported, and types of mode employed in transportation.

Bardi et al. (1989) also investigated the impact of deregulation on carrier selection by asking survey participants to assess the importance of carrier selection criteria and to indicate whether the emphasis in selection criteria had changed over the previous five years transition to a deregulated transportation environment. Their study refined 18 carrier selection determinant measures into four selection factors including rate related factors, customer service, claims handling and follow up, and special equipment availability and flexibility. …