Benchmarking freight rates and procuring cost-attractive transportation services

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Finance and Supply Chain Management

Publication Date




The purpose of this paper is to help shippers determine a negotiation yardstick for transportation price and formulate wise transportation outsourcing strategies by examining the presence of freight rate differentials for shippers and identifying their main causes. This paper also develops a framework for benchmarking freight rates based on the actual data.


This paper proposes an additive dummy regression model to determine a statistical significance in shipping charges between different shippers. Unlike the traditional least square analysis, the proposed model is designed to avoid a biased assessment of the impact of an explanatory variable.


Through a series of empirical data analysis and hypothesis tests, the authors discovered that the fixed portion (minimum base charge) of shipping charges differed depending on the shipper’ individual contract, while the variable portion (fuel or accessorial charge) of shipping charges remained the same regardless of the shipper’s individual contract. As such, shippers who are unaware of flexible but unpredictable transportation pricing practices and unprepared for freight rate negotiation can suffer from higher shipping costs as compared to their peers. Thus, the authors conclude that the success of transportation outsourcing, carrier selection, and freight rate negotiation strategies tends to rest on the shipper’s ability to understand transportation cost structures and then determine the benchmark freight rate considered “fair” and “reasonable” for a given service.


This paper is one of the first to examine shipping cost differentials between different shippers and determine what causes such differentials. In doing so, this paper attempted to assess the potential impact of freight rate negotiation and carrier selection strategies on shippers’ transportation costs in current deregulatory environments where shippers were given a greater freedom to negotiate freight rates with carriers and an increased opportunity to save their transportation costs.


This article was originally published in The International Journal of Logistics Management. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

Due to copyright restrictions, this article is not available for free download from ScholarWorks @ CWU.


The International Journal of Logistics Management


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