Flexible drop

What is flexible drop?

Flexible drop services provide shippers with on-demand, nationwide drop-and-hook capacity. Whether by supplying contract freight, backing up failed primary carriers, or covering loads on the spot market, flexible drop ensures shippers don’t need to convert to live loads as demand fluctuates on a day-to-day basis.

The problem with traditional drop

By preloading trailers in advance, shippers avoid the headaches that come with live loads, such as scheduling pickups and dropoffs, handling missed appointments, and paying detention fees for trucks waiting to unload. Drop cuts average dwell times by two-thirds, improves fleet utilization, and reduces inefficiencies in the supply chain.

Yet despite all the benefits, traditional drop has always been plagued by a fundamental flaw:

It’s inflexible.

Drop operates well with a fixed set of tractors and trailers running predictable head hauls and backhauls between a fixed set of facilities. For this reason, drop is used almost exclusively for primary contract freight on lanes with consistent volume.

Of course, even dense lanes with consistent demand aren’t immune from freight market dynamics. Surges in customer orders, seasonal storms, changes in distribution, and “Black Swan” events like the COVID-19 pandemic create fluctuations in demand that disrupt drop’s stability. This results in hidden overhead costs, reduced operational efficiency, and increased risk to service quality.

Every time reality deviates from forecast, shippers suffer the consequences of inflexible drop. When demand surges above expectations, carriers struggle to flex tractor or trailer capacity, rejecting tenders and forcing shippers to switch to live loads on the spot market. This drives up shipment costs, creates logistical hassles of appointment scheduling and live loading, and increases service quality risk by introducing unfamiliar spot carriers.

Even when demand sinks below expectations, shippers face hidden costs. As tender volume drops, trucks stop moving. Lower fleet utilization results in punitive fees, either charged directly to shippers, or indirectly by carriers passing along their higher fixed costs.

This ongoing cycle of spot market spillover and punitive fees has always been part of traditional drop-and-hook, creating undue burden and risk for transportation teams, and constraining the potential of this otherwise highly efficient form of shipping.

The benefits of flexible drop

Solving this problem requires a new approach, one that starts with technology at its core. In 2017, we introduced Convoy Go, a unique drop-and-hook service that turned the traditional model on its head by opening up drop freight to the million+ US carriers with small fleets, creating a massive addition to capacity while maintaining high efficiency and reliability.

Get flexible drop capacity, even during unexpected surges

From volatile markets to seasonal surges, shippers face moments when they need more drop capacity than anticipated. A flexible drop program is ready to haul your freight at a moment’s notice, so you can ship all the drop you want, when you want to.

Save money by avoiding live loads

When traditional drop breaks, shippers are forced to convert to less efficient and ultimately more expensive live loads. Flexible drop offers drop capacity through backup and spot freight, ensuring you avoid live loads and the costs they add to your overall supply chain, which can represent 9% of your annual transportation budget, on average.

Get nationwide drop, from a single source

Today, many shippers build patchwork networks of traditional drop providers to get reliable nationwide coverage. Flexible drop is able to service a shipper’s nationwide needs, all from a single provider.

Achieve or beat the reliability you’d expect from top asset carriers

Unlocking flexible drop capacity doesn’t mean you sacrifice quality. The technology that enables a flexible drop service to provide its unmatched capacity also is capable of delivering best-in-class performance (like on-time pick, on-time delivery, equipment availability), and safety.

How does flexible drop work?

Flexible drop uses advanced technology and science to overcome traditional drop’s limitations in a way that only a digital freight network can.

It sources practically endless motor carrier capacity from a nationwide carrier network, and then matches it with trailers. Because the power-only capacity can be sourced from anywhere, flexible drop uses a shared pool of smart trailers that are automatically matched with carriers, and then rebalanced for the next best load using predictive modeling. Equipped with a variety of sensors, these smart trailers provide real-time freight visibility to not only ensure everything goes according to plan, but also to provide advantageous insights.

Free white paper

How Every Shipper Can Benefit from Flexible Drop-and-Hook

In this white paper, learn about traditional drop’s big problem and its consequences that prevent shippers from moving all the loads they want. We’ll introduce the concept of a flexible drop service, and how it empowers shippers to overcome traditional drop’s problem. Finally, we’ll drill into how Convoy uses innovative technology to make this all happen.

More reliable capacity. More peace of mind.

Ready to get started? Try our digital freight network and see how Convoy helps you save time, save money, and ship sustainably.