Subcontracting in parcel transport in urban areas: economic strategies and dependence relationships

Subcontracting is a common practice in road transport, especially in parcel transport operations. Parcel transport is defined as the collection and distribution of shipments of less than three tons. Deliveries and pick-up rounds in urban areas present some specificities (such as difficult traffic and parking situations) which contribute in the high the use of subcontracting within the parcel transport sector. Sub-contracting allows parcel carriers to minimize the costs of urban trips and to provide a flexible and cost-efficient service to shippers. We analyzed a 2012 “carriers” survey done in the Paris region as well as an earlier survey made in the Lyon region. We also interviewed several carriers. These interviews and surveys enlighten the relationships between parcel transport companies and their subcontractors and allow us to propose dependence indicators.