A balancing act: How trucking companies can find the optimal spot/contract mix

Brand new research by McKinsey & Company uses Transporeon Market Insights data to explain how road freight carriers and brokers could improve EBIT by 15-30%, by leveraging data for decision making.

Drawing on European road freight data across trade lanes, this report examines the carrier’s decision between allocating capacity to long-term contracts or to the spot market to illustrate the impact that data-driven decisions can have for trucking companies.  

Key takeaways include: 

  • Understand lane differences and make decisions lane by lane, rather than adopting a “one size fits all” approach. 

  • Make the decision on contract / spot mix a dynamic one, and update it frequently.   

  • Leverage demand forecasting to improve decisions and predict changes in rate differences between spot and contract per lane. 

Carriers can use the research to support efforts to define the optimal spot/contract mix to maximize value and minimise risk. 

For shippers, the research reveals valuable insight into how carriers set their optimal spot/contract mix to find capacity, and build win-win relationships. Use it to strengthen your procurement strategy for the year ahead.

The importance of optimizing this decision is highlighted by recent fundamental shifts in the road freight market. An analysis of data gathered between 2019 and 2022 illustrates how spot and contract rates have changed across multiple European trade lanes in reaction to the pandemic, and the implications for pricing. 

Riccardo Boin, Philipp Rau, Matthias Ruß, Sal Arora and Jaron Stoffels

Dynamic decision-making powered by data

Analysis of market shifts over recent years shows significant changes in the relative price levels of spot and contract markets. Companies could make frequent adjustments to lane-specific contract vs. spot decisions to unlock further value. Are you leveraging demand forecasting to improve decisions and predict changes in rate differences between spot and contract per lane?

Transporeon Market Insights

Based on metrics, indices, and price information

The analyses in the article are based on metrics, indices, and price information provided by Market Insights, a market intelligence solution that provides insights into markets, and lanes, and their development over time. Market Insights gathers data from the 220,000 transactions a day on the company’s transportation management platform. This data is cleansed to remove invalid values, outliers, and less-than-truckload shipping, and harmonized by distance.


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