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A CPG Shipper’s Guide to LTL Shipping

01.03.2020 | By Todd LaFond | 4 min. read

Tips & tricks for CPG companies shipping LTL freight

Consumer packaged goods (CPG) are the biggest category of freight crossing the country’s highways and byways every day. These are items that we use in our daily habits—and as such, they’re incredibly varied and often have different shipping requirements than other freight to maintain that product’s shelf life. 

Shipping CPG freight via less than truckload (LTL) service requires a lot of moving parts (pun intended), and it’s crucial that your goods make it on time and in one piece. Here are some tips to help your next CPG shipment go off without a hitch.

1. Packaging

How well you package your items before they leave your door will determine whether they’re accepted for delivery, whether they arrive undamaged, and more. While specifics vary by product, there are a few general guidelines that all CPG companies shipping LTL freight can use to keep your shipments running smoothly.

  • Keep your packaged goods as condensed as possible to save room, and try to keep their weight to a minimum. Overpacking your boxes can lead to discrepancies in freight class… which in turn can leave you with hefty overage fees.
  • Always have the proper packing materials for your specific product. If you’re shipping something fragile, like glass, you’ll need protective materials such as bubble wrap. If you’re shipping perishables, you may need cooling materials like dry ice packages or insulated boxes.
  • If you’re shipping to a fulfillment or distribution center, research their packaging requirements ahead of time to ensure your delivery is accepted. For example, Amazon’s fulfillment centers stipulate the use of non-branded boxes only.
  • Label your pallets in several places so that they can be read and scanned quickly both before they leave your loading dock and when they arrive at their final destination.

2. Storage before & during shipping

Best practices for storing CPG is entirely dependent on your product. Here are some tips based on whether you ship dry goods or perishable goods.

Dry Goods

Storing dry goods is, on the whole, a much easier task. The longer the shelf life of your freight, the fewer considerations you need to make on keeping your product protected during transit—and therefore your costs are fewer, too. And dry goods can be packaged into smaller bundles, meaning you can fit more on a single pallet, and they can store more easily in the backstock of a retail or grocery store.

While paper products have no serious storage considerations, dried foods do. Though many have pretty stable shelf lives, some—like flour or bread—do spoil more quickly than others. Make sure these products are stored out of direct sunlight and extreme temperatures, since exposure can affect the quality of your item. Have airtight storage available for products that need it.

Lastly, make sure the dry van that transports your goods is equipped with temperature control to maintain a protected environment for your shipment during transit.

Perishable Goods

Because your products must be consumed fresh, they need to be stored to maintain their quality until their arrival at the retailer. As mentioned in our packaging tips, using dry ice, gel coolants, insulated liners, and pads can also help during storage. Just remember that dry ice is considered a hazardous material — so if you use it for storage during shipping, you’ll need to adjust the freight class of your shipment accordingly. Also make sure any storage facility at which your items stop along the way is properly equipped to hold your perishables. Since LTL shipping requires pit stops at terminals, those terminals must support the needs of your goods.

When it’s time to ship, a refrigerated truck is your best friend. This ensures that your goods maintain their proper temperature during the entire time they’re stored on the truck during transit. Making your delivery window is even more crucial when you’re shipping perishables, as the retailer’s ability to sell the product is entirely dependent on it being fresh and ready to hit the shelves. Following proper packing and storage procedures is your first step in making sure this happens, so that your goods aren’t rejected for a preventable cause.

3. On-time delivery

And as mentioned above, CPG companies that sell goods with a shorter shelf life have an even stronger need to get those shipments delivered on time.

To make sure your CPG shipment arrives quickly, follow these general tips:

  • Always include the right freight class and accessorials when booking your LTL shipment. Not doing so could cause both reclass fees as well as outright rejection of your delivery.
  • Consumer packaged goods often require more time to package, load, and unload because they’re more fragile—so factor those extra hours into your pickup and delivery windows.
  • Have your bill of lading (BOL) filled out completely and accurately, including any special instructions to maintain the shelf life of your goods.
  • Use a freight broker that has a relationship and experience with shipping LTL CPG freight—like Flock Freight®!

The Flock network includes expert carriers and drivers who have been extensively vetted to reliably transport CPG freight on the most efficient routes. Plus, our Flock Platform helps you quote and book quickly, with a fully-completed BOL that includes all of the correct codes to get your shipment out the door without delays or pricey reclass and modification fees. 

To ensure on-time delivery, use FlockDirect™️. Our proprietary algorithm matches your LTL shipment to the right carrier and route to deliver via full truckload service. Shared truckload pools multiple shipments heading in the same direction on to one multi-stop load. Rather than being delayed and offloaded at hub-and-spoke terminals, it stays on the truck and travels directly to its destination—transporting your goods without damage and on time.

Experience the Flock Freight difference for yourself—get a quote today.