For 17 years the Shipper’s Choice Awards survey has been setting benchmarks for carrier excellence and shipper’s demands haven’t changed much at all.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Since the Shipper’s Choice Awards were launched in 2002, we’ve endured a recession, and seen technology alter the transportation and logistics industry landscape.
When Canadian Shipper introduced the Shipper’s Choice Awards, shippers were asked—as they still are today—to rank the importance of eight criteria when it comes to selecting carriers. Back then the top three criteria were on-time performance, competitive pricing and customer service. Fast forward to 2018, and nothing has changed, those three criteria are still Nos. 1, 2 and 3 respectively.
In his editorial, marking the debut of the Shipper’s Choice Awards, Editorial Director Lou Smyrlis, currently Newcom Media’s managing director of the Supply Chain Group, stated: “Transportation service providers constitute a critical link to the supply chain and their ability to meet shipper demands for constant improvement is crucial to supply chain effectiveness. We believe the time has come for easily accessible, scientifically based and nationally relevant benchmarking for the quality of service provided by transportation providers.”
Those words carry the same weight today.
Canadian carriers and the behest of shippers do their best to live up the standard of on-time delivery at the best price and some do it better than others, according to our Annual Shipper’s Choice Awards Survey, which provides buyers of transportation services with consistent, national and scientifically derived benchmarks of excellence for carrier performance in each mode.
This year 34 carriers managed to surpass the Benchmark of Excellence. Particularly impressive are the 15 carriers who have scored above the benchmark of excellence for five years in a row or more, thus earning our special “Carrier of Choice” designation:
All Connect Logistical Services
Armour Transportation Systems
Cavalier Transportation Services
TransPro Freight Systems
Our survey provides shippers, 3PL service providers and freight forwarders across Canada with the opportunity to set benchmarks for carrier performance on eight key performance indicators (KPIs) and to rate their top carriers against those benchmarks. Aside from identifying the best carriers across all modes through this process, survey respondents also provide clear indications of the different values Canadian buyers of transportation services place on each KPI based on mode as well as a comparison of how high these standards are set for each mode.
The importance survey participants place on the KPIs for each mode (based on a five-point scale) is used as a weight in calculating carrier evaluations. Survey participants then rate up to three of their main carriers in each mode (again on a five-point scale.) The final weighted score for each carrier is derived by multiplying the carrier’s average performance score by the average importance rating for each key performance indicator for that mode.
Because survey participants are first asked to rate the importance they place on each of the eight KPIs when making their carrier selections, and that data is used as a weight on their carrier evaluations, we feel that the benchmarks set are truly standards of excellence. In other words, carrier performance is judged against an ideal of what shippers expect and the areas given the most weight are the ones that matter most to buyers of transportation services.
Carriers receive the Shipper’s Choice Award when their total score meets or surpasses the total benchmark of excellence for their mode. Only those carriers who exceed this benchmark have their names and scores included in the following tables.
Average shipper satisfaction ratings for each KPI are shown by mode. The final column on the right shows the total benchmark of excellence set for each mode. The benchmarks for each of the eight KPIs per mode also are indicated with each modal table on the following pages.
Invitations were sent to more than 6,000 of our readers who are buyers of transportation services in the manufacturing, retail and other sectors as well as to individuals responsible for managing shipments within the freight forwarding and 3PL sectors.
Carriers must receive a minimum number of evaluations in order to qualify for the award. It should be noted that this year winning was made all the more difficult because we once again raised the number of evaluations necessary to qualify for the award for almost every mode. In order to boost response, carriers were given the opportunity to forward the survey to their own customer lists. Not all carriers chose to do so, however. To prevent tampering, we check for multiple cases submitted by known respondents. If there is more than one case, then only the newest one is considered. Likewise, we check for similar IP addresses. As a final check on tampering, we separate and check the evaluations submitted by participants from our own e-mail list versus the e-mail lists of carrier customers. Winners must have evaluations submitted by transportation buyers from our own e-mail list to qualify for the award.
More than 2,000 buyers of transportation services participated in our survey, which makes Shipper’s Choice the largest of the several surveys we conduct annually. We thank all those of you who took the time to complete our survey. (Participants receive an advance electronic copy of the results.) More than 9,000 evaluations of carriers from all modes providing services in the Canadian market were cast.
As with past years, survey participants represent every region across Canada and buy transportation services for companies with annual sales ranging from less than $5 million up to more than $2 billion. Their annual supply chain budgets range from less than $100,000 up to more than $20 million. More than a third (36 per cent of respondents spent over 60 per cent of their supply chain budgets on transportation.
The Shipper’s Choice Awards Survey was undertaken once again in partnership with CITT and the Freight Management Association of Canada (FMA), two associations whose members are responsible for the purchase of transportation number in the thousands. And, as in previous years, the research was conducted by an independent research firm.
Winning carriers are listed alphabetically, and not by their total score. Those wanting to compare the scores among the winners should keep in mind the high probability that these carriers, although they are being compared to an industry benchmark, have been evaluated by different shippers. This survey is intended as a measure of which carriers exceed industry expectations and not a ranking of the carriers involved.
LTL Trucking – Customer service is job one
There were nearly 4,000 evaluations cast by Canadian shippers for the LTL category. On-time performance is considered highly important for shippers purchasing LTL transportation, ranking just ahead of customer service and followed by competitive pricing. In fact, the customer service expectations for LTL are the highest among all the modes in the survey, but LTL carriers appear to be delivering on that score—the LTL mode receives the second highest customer service ratings of all the modes.
The buyers of transportation responding to our survey were quite satisfied with the customer service performance of their LTL carriers, ranking this mode’s performance on that KPI tops amongst modes, coming in just ahead TL trucking.
Fourteen carriers surpassed our Benchmark of Excellence this year, down two from last year, including one new entry: Bourassa Transport.
LTL winners and their scores for each of our eight KPIs are shown in the table below. The bottom row of the table shows this mode’s Benchmark of Excellence for each KPI. The total Benchmark of Excellence is indicated on the top right. The winners are shown in alphabetical order and only those scoring above the total Benchmark of excellence are included.
TL Trucking – Quality over quantity
This has traditionally been the most hotly contested mode in our Shipper’s Choice Awards. You have to bring your A game to please Canadian buyers of TL services and the carriers that make the cut really deliver an excellent service offering based on the survey results.
The TL category has the highest satisfaction score, making it more difficult to be named to the circle of winners in this modal category than any other. The TL mode leads all other modes in satisfaction scores for six of our eight KPIs—on-time performance; quality of equipment and operations; competitive pricing; leadership in problem solving; ability to provide value-added services; and sustainable transportation practices.
Nearly 1,300 shippers cast almost 2,000 carrier evaluations for the TL category. Ten carriers surpassed our Benchmark of Excellence this year, down four from last year.
TL winners and their scores for each of our eight KPIs are shown in the table below. The bottom row of the table shows this mode’s Benchmark of Excellence for each KPI. The total Benchmark of Excellence is indicated on the top right. The winners are shown in alphabetical order and only those scoring above the total Benchmark of excellence are included.
Courier – The information highway
Managing competitive pricing, excellent customer service, and time constraints is an ongoing challenge for couriers and buyers of these services have high expectations, especially to meet the growing market of e-commerce sales. Keeping up with on-time performance demands requires sizeable investments in both fleet assets and information technology, which can be a real hurdle to providing the competitive pricing courier service buyers demand. In shipper satisfaction ratings by mode, couriers has the highest score for the information technology KPI, just ahead of air carriers.
Couriers ranked in the top three in satisfaction amongst carriers in three categories: information technology; on-time performance; and quality of equipment and operations.
Five companies surpassed the benchmark this year, three less than in 2017, including newcomer, Purolator. Over 1,000 shippers provided more than 1,800 carrier evaluations for the courier category.
Courier winners and their scores for each of our eight KPIs are shown in the table below. The bottom row of the table shows this mode’s Benchmark of Excellence for each KPI. The total Benchmark of Excellence is indicated on the top right.
Air – Soaring above the crowd
Air freight is a high-cost business for both shippers and carriers. And in this game on-time performance is at the top of the list with shippers rating it third-most important amongst modes. That’s followed by the third-highest customer service expectations of all modes. Not many can make the cut against such high demands but every year a few select air carriers do, in this case only one—Cargojet—managed the trick.
Despite the emphasis on on-time performance and customer service, air carriers also excelled in other areas, ranking second in satisfaction from shippers in the information technology and leadership in problem solving categories.
Air freight carrier winner and their scores for each of our eight KPIs are shown in the table below. The bottom row of the table shows this mode’s Benchmark of Excellence for each KPI.
Ocean – Welcome to the club
Price is repeatedly the top criteria in selecting a ocean carrier in our survey. Buyers of ocean carrier services however, remain concerned about the carrier’s execution of customer service and on-time performance.
Those concerns showed up in shippers’ rankings of key performance indicators, as ocean carriers ranked first in the categories of competitive pricing and ability to provide value-added services, while ranking third for sustainable transportation practices. Carriers met the challenge, as they ranked third in shipper satisfaction ratings by mode in the information technology category and fourth in the competitive pricing category.
Four carriers surpassed our Benchmark of Excellence this year, double the number from last year, including three new entries: Hapag-Lloyd, Oceanex and ZIM Container Service.
Marine winners and their scores for each of our eight KPIs are shown in the table below. The bottom row of the table shows this mode’s Benchmark of Excellence for each KPI. The total Benchmark of Excellence is indicated on the top right. The winners are shown in alphabetical order and only those scoring above the total Benchmark of Excellence are included.