Ask AFS: What is a DFM? And How is it Different From a Load Board?

Over-the-road truck transporting freight on a highway .

A DFM is a Digital Freight Marketplace, one of several common ways it’s now possible to book over-the-road freight. Like a load board, it’s an online channel that shippers can use to find more transportation capacity quickly. However unlike a load board, it’s a fully connected forum that plays a more active role in actually matching shippers with the right carrier – and getting a load booked – within minutes, often with the help of Artificial Intelligence 

Proponents of DFMs say that these marketplaces streamline the carrier negotiating and vetting process, maximize transportation capacity, and help address industry challenges like empty miles and labor shortages – all while providing access to lower rates. Detractors say that DFMs lack the special pricing advantages and service upgrades that some freight brokers can negotiate –as well as the quality control, problem-solving and end-to-end advantages that talented freight brokers can bring to the table. Either way, DFMs have become an established and fast-growing part of the freight booking landscape, with dozens to choose from and many financial backers willing to make a substantial investment in their future. (For more about this subject, check out our Viewpoint column.) 

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