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Holiday freight shipping – the logistics behind Christmas

11.08.2018 | By Chris Pickett | 4 min. read

The holidays are just around the corner, and with each new day, they get a step closer. Savvy small and midsized companies are considering one important factor for maximizing efficiency, and that’s logistics.

Deadlines are critical all year long, but when the holiday season approaches, the stakes for meeting those demands are much higher. There is no time for missed deadlines, damaged packages, or mistakes. And if mistakes do occur, they could cost you in the new year.

If you ship freight, there is a good chance that you use trucks to move it. Evaluating how you’re currently moving that freight and whether the current method is the most efficient can help improve logistics and efficiency during the holidays. One such way to accomplish this is to consider LTL freight shipping and the effects it could have on your bottom line.  

Why use LTL freight shipping during the holidays?

Less-than-truckload freight shipping, also known as LTL, is used for the transportation of freight shipments when you don’t need an entire trailer. This option is a good fit for freight that weighs less than 4,000 pounds.

Since most companies experience larger volumes of orders during the holiday season, finding strategies to streamline logistics and minimize costs can drive large savings. However, the benefits of using this type of service during the holidays extend beyond costs. When using the right partner, one that has advanced technology designed to maximize logistics efficiency, those benefits can trickle down to other areas of the business.

The benefits of LTL shipping during the holidays

LTL has many benefits during the holidays, but are those benefits a good match for your needs?

A few benefits of LTL for holiday freight include the following:

Tracking is available. Urgency is in full swing during the holidays. Everybody is working to meet a deadline, and not meeting expectations can create lasting issues for a company. The ability to track shipments during freight shipping is key. Using LTL shipping allows you to track freight throughout the entire process to answer customer inquiries and deal with any issues that arise.

Take advantage of additional shipping options. LTL provides some services that are not available with other shipping methods. For example, you can take advantage of notification prior to delivery, inside pickup delivery, special handling, and a number of other options. This is ideal for shipments that need special attention and handling during the holidays.

The benefits of LTL are a good fit for many small and midsized businesses looking to improve Christmas shipping logistics. But what about rates? What affects rates and how exactly does it minimize overall freight-shipping costs? Let’s take a look.

What determines LTL holiday shipping rates?

Revenue increases during the holiday season, with more orders than any other time of the year. But each new order has a cost associated with it, including shipping. It’s natural that shipping bills increase during the holidays, but the key is to improve efficiency so that the increase is carefully managed. Understanding the factors that influence shipping costs is a good starting point. A few factors that affect freight shipping include the following:

  • The destination location. How far does the freight need to travel? The farther the distance, the greater the risk of creating waste during the shipping process. For example, using FTL, or full truckload, vs. LTL, in which the truck is not entirely full, will add up to more waste when the truck is traveling farther. Generally, the farther the distance, the higher the cost, so LTL options are especially important when shipping long distances.
  • The package dimensions and weight. The weight of freight and dimensions also play into determining the freight cost. This can directly impact rates.
  • Shipping needs. Fast shipping and urgent requests are prevalent during the holiday season, and this affects cost. As a result, the cost of urgent requests is a consideration when planning for holiday logistics. For example, it’s possible to use LTL and expedited shipping, but the fee will be higher. However, when compared with FTL shipping, the savings on shipping are usually significant.
  • Attention required for handling. What type of freight are you shipping? If items are fragile or require special handling, this may also affect total costs.

In some cases, you can pass extra costs associated with the holidays along to recipients. For example, sometimes the recipient places a rush shipment, and they pay the extra shipping costs. But for other circumstances, you are picking up the bill, and managing these costs is critical to minimizing expenses. As a result, weighing the pros and cons of different freight options becomes even more important.

What to look for in an LTL  broker

Selecting the right carrier during the holiday season is a big choice, mostly because the stakes are so high. Make the wrong decision and it can quickly affect your bottom line. Check out these factors to consider when evaluating LTL  brokers and figuring out which is best for your situation.

Transit times. Quick deliveries are essential during the holiday season. One major slip-up and you could lose a customer for the long term. So, you need a freight carrier with a track record of reliability. What is the expected freight transit time for LTL  brokers? And what percentage of the time do they meet those expectations? Understand this information so that you can plan delivery times and consistently meet customer expectations.

Geographic delivery Locations. A key factor for planning shipping logistics during the holiday season is geography. Where do your packages travel? Do you need a carrier that provides only regional direct pickup and delivery service? Or do you need geographic coverage that expands beyond the local area and includes a much larger service area? Matching your needs to the right carrier ensures that logistics are smooth and costs are mitigated.

Pricing factors. Managing costs is critical during the holiday season, mostly due to the sheer volume of freight shipping is so high. When working with LTL freight carriers, there are many different factors that affect cost. It’s important to select a partner that balances the lowest prices, reliable service, and technology to help maximize this efficiency.

Technology. What type of technology does your partner use? Look for a partner that uses sophisticated algorithms and cutting-edge logistics and that can help you leverage the purchasing power of thousands of small and midsized businesses across the country to deliver the lowest prices on LTL shipping.

Discuss processes that affect potential damage. One critical factor is to mitigate damage during the shipping process. The last thing that any recipient wants is packages that are less than what was expected. Select a partner with a strong reputation for getting your LTL freight to its final destination on time and damage-free.

Requirements and packaging

Managing holiday freight starts with getting an accurate quote. Nothing is worse than thinking you have costs under control, only to learn that actual costs are higher than expected. Accurate quotes begin with providing accurate information. For example, make sure that you have the following information when speaking with an LTL provider.

  • Basic location information. This includes basic details, such as origin city, state, and ZIP code along with destination info. You also need the required pick up dates and times with the required delivery dates and times.
  • Accurate dimensions. Dimensions play a critical role in shipping, so having accurate details about freight dimensions along with the total number of items that you plan to ship is important.
  • Total gross weight. Weight affects shipping rates, so having these details in hand ensures the accuracy of your quote.
  • Special instructions. Special instructions and requirements, such as lift gate, inside delivery, after-hours delivery, and special handling, influence costs, so make sure to have these details handy.

Also, when thinking about logistics, it helps to take precautions that can help mitigate the risk for damage. For example, usually, LTL shipments should be placed in pallets that are strapped or banded. Stack from the heaviest to the lightest items, stack vertically, and use shrink wrap. Label each item with full shipment details. For example, full shipper information should be on each piece of the shipment and that information should match the bill of lading exactly. Additional details, such as “this end up” or “do not stack” can also be included on packages to mitigate risk for damage.

Moving toward the holidays with greater efficiency

Last year, retailers posted their best holiday season since 2011. What’s more, holiday spending is expected to grow as much as 4 percent for 2018. There is no question that this year, the holidays will be a busy time. But they also provide a key opportunity to build trust and create stronger relationships with customers. By evaluating what you’re currently doing and looking for opportunities to streamline logistics and increase efficiency, you can serve customers better.

The right partner can help maximize LTL shipping efficiency using real-time technology that provides an edge during the holiday season. It allows you to get items to their final destinations much faster. And using a partner that provides a “hubless” model, which creates fewer stops along the way, allows you to not only ship faster, but also less expensively and with fewer risks for damage. The key is to start early because that will allow you to boost performance and improve logistics in a way that creates synergy between customer needs and your bottom line.

About Flock Freight

Flock Freight® is a business-to-business freight-shipping company with the goal of fundamentally changing the LTL shipping industry for small and midsized businesses across North America. But modernizing the $80 billion LTL freight industry is no easy task. Shipping logistics companies, freight carriers, 3PLs, and brokers have done business the same way for decades. Unfortunately, this has left small and midsized businesses to fend for themselves in an industry steeped with low expectations, while large companies benefit from discounts, flexibility, and more. Flock Freight is focused on providing low rates and a seamless experience on LTL and partial shipments for companies of all sizes. FlockDirect™️ is Flock Freight’s shared truckload shipping solution, offering fast transit times, low costs, reduced damage, and easy tracking. 

Contact us today to see how we can help with all of your freight shipping needs!

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