Rand McNally Freight
THE MARKETPLACE FOR SHIPPING LOGISTICS
Rand McNally is one of the oldest geospatial companies in the US. They develop maps, software and hardware for consumer electronics, commercial transportation, and education. Over the course of a year, we worked with their team to build Freight – a platform that reduces the complexities of logistics in commercial transportation. On top of working with the team for web and Android app, I got to lead the iOS design (which is the main focus of this case study) and put together a Freight keynote video for the client.
Currently, the trucking industry runs manually with "middlemen" connecting carriers and drivers to shippers and their loads. Shippers and carriers employ phone calls, texts, emails and *when they're lucky spreadsheets* organizing what needs to go where. For shippers, the process is manual with a phone call being the closest thing to a status or location check.
On the carrier side, whether a single owner operator or a large fleet, a carrier’s goal is to make the most money. The way carriers make money is their efficiency and ability to scale. Trucks often sit idle and run empty 40% of the time. Drivers are often a cog in the process, making just enough to get by.
The project started off with an exploration workshop, so that the BL3NDlabs team understood Rand McNally’s goals in this product. We asked questions about the users like, “who are the different types of users?” “where are they spending most of their time for their job?” “what are each users’ goals on this platform” and asking all sorts of questions to explore and then to focus back to the user-centric goals.
How can carriers minimize their down time?
What values can we provide for the carriers on the platform?
How do we keep carriers on the platform?
Our team was composed of 3 designers, 1 project manager and our dev team. The project manager scoped out the design sprints for web and Android, as those were our first deliverables to the client. We began by working through the user stories, user roles and the Information Architecture. By listing out different features on the platform that would solve users’ needs, this handed off to the design sprints, where sprints were tasked out to the designers in 1 to 2 week sprints.
We worked closely, reviewed frequently and designed iteratively. Designs and prototypes were presented to the client and, once approved, shipped to the dev team. The final product wasn’t approved until a final round of QA by the design team to make sure everything was pixel perfect.
The design team was able to deliver the web and Android app ahead of the set deadline, so I got to get a head start on exploring what opportunities we had for improvement on the iOS app, but still be coherent with the web and Android app.
The mobile apps were specific for the carrier roles, as they would be on the road, and either working a shipment or searching for their next load. So, we focused on how we could help carriers find work, better track their in-progress work, and stay connected with the shippers. We knew these would be of value for the carriers because the old way of finding loads is extremely slow and complicated. By removing these pain points, the carriers can focus on getting the job done and to get paid.
Keeping Carriers Moving and Paid
We introduced the Loadboard, a marketplace for loads. Shippers would post the loads and then the carriers could either bid on them or win it instantly. While carriers can search the full list and apply search filters specific towards them, we went 1 step ahead to have Suggested Loads, which are daily top 3 loads that best matched the carriers equipment and location.
No More Guessing Games
Whether it’s a carrier admin managing a fleet or a single carrier driver, life is hectic when on-the-go. That’s why we built My Loads, where carriers can see all their loads: In Progress, Upcoming and Past Loads. In each load, the users would first see the high-level details that were informative to make daily decisions, but also clear enough to find the minute details. Also, we knew payments would be an important data set, so we built analytics for payments, so that users could track not just how much they were making, but also see where they could improve their business.
Building Value over Time
– Rate & Review, Messages
When working with someone you’ve never met, there’s usually some concern involved. Add money to that, and the concern is amplified. Building trust on the app and the relationship between the shippers and carriers became a huge focus and so we allowed messaging between the 2 roles once a load was matched to a carrier. And at the completion of a load, both roles get an opportunity to provide a rating and review of each other, ultimately, providing value of their profiles on the platform. The more that they delivered on their end, they’d receive high ratings, which would make it easier for them to find their next job.
A Cohesive Experience
Although the web and Android app was designed with Material Design and the iOS app followed Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines, we focused on a cohesive experience. By having this cohesiveness, it increases brand loyalty, satisfaction and decreases product onboarding friction and the likelihood of customer churn.
Freight offers a solution to the complexities of shipping logistics - shippers and carriers don’t have to reply on old-school methods of pre-shipment, shipment, and payment logistics. Our shared goal was to alleviate these pain points and to build value for the users on the platform. To achieve this, it was vital that the platform was a beneficial tool that took care of the menial, slow tasks, so that they can focus on finishing jobs and getting paid.
Our strategy of continuous validation through prototyping and understanding the person using the product and the job they're trying to accomplish allowed us to make quick decisions with our client. Ideally, user testing would’ve provided even more feedback, but the clients’ insights from being in the industry for more than 160 years helped push the launch with confidence.