Larger carriers are getting bigger at the expense of their smaller counterparts, according to research from logistics software provider FourKites, released this month.
The company analyzed data from more than 2,000 carriers in its U.S. network and broke them into three groups—small, medium, and large—based on their volume of tracked loads between January and April of this year. The results show that although 67% of large carriers have seen increased volume over the last five months, only 48% of small carriers have witnessed a similar increase.
“This speaks to the advantages of size and scale,” Kevin Taylor, the company’s vice president of carrier operations, wrote in a blog post detailing the data. “As the pandemic rages on, we’re seeing that larger carriers—which have made larger investments in technology and have better crisis response mechanisms in place—are able to remain nimble through market fluctuations and take on more volume. From a financial perspective, large carriers tend to have the lowest rates, so when times are tight, shippers will naturally gravitate to the best price.”
Larger carriers also benefit from having a more diversified customer base in comparison to their smaller counterparts, who are more dependent on specific routes and individual customers—making them more vulnerable in volatile business conditions, he said.
The data showed that, overall, carriers saw a 3.5% increase in freight volume from January to April, but that the growth was not evenly split. Smaller carriers saw a 2% gain compared to 5% growth among larger carriers, Taylor said.
“As economic activity continues to contract, escalating competition for loads, those carriers with economies of scale and greater technological sophistication will likely continue to earn greater proportions of the nation’s freight shipments,” according to Taylor.