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The Ins & Outs of Shipping CPG Freight to a Distribution Center

12.17.2019 | By Justin Turner | 4 min. read

Tips for shipping CPG to distribution centers

Delivering CPG freight to a distribution center requires careful attention to a lot of moving parts—and it all has to stick to a strict schedule. Missing your freight deadline to the distribution center means it’s also late to the retailer, resulting in even more frustration and cost to you.

Luckily, there are a few easy ways you can ensure your freight makes it from your factory, to the distribution center, and all the way to the retailer in a timely fashion.

Use standardized packaging guidelines

Many distribution and fulfillment centers require packaging to meet specific guidelines, such as pallet size and number, box size, and brandless boxes, to name a few. When freight arrives that doesn’t adhere to these guidelines, it risks being rejected and sent back to you—which means you’ll certainly be dealing with late delivery fees. If you ship to multiple centers run by different entities, it’s even more important that you don’t have to worry about changing your packaging to suit each one’s requirements. 

To make things easier and prevent late deliveries to both the fulfillment center and the retailer, conduct thorough research into the packaging requirements for wherever you ship to, and create generic, standardized package guidelines for all of your freight. Rather than using multiple box sizes, for example, settle on a single size that satisfies each place that receives your freight. You eliminate the risk of distribution centers rejecting your CPG shipment for a completely preventable reason.

Strategically plan reconfigured freight

Depending on your product, retailers may want the freight repackaged or reconfigured in a different way than when they left your factory (for example, they need a certain number of items packaged together to complete a bundle). But shipping these items to an outside packaging company, or reconfiguring your freight yourself, can cost you time—especially if you book your LTL shipment to the distribution center before or during that repackaging process.

Instead, see if there is a way to repackage your CPG freight at the distribution center itself. Some companies are able to take advantage of machines and services that do the legwork for you. Not only does your freight arrive to the distribution center on time—and subsequently the retailer—but you also save on inventory costs.

Seek decentralized distribution centers

It stands to reason that the more options you have for locations to ship your freight, the faster your freight will move through those centers and on to the retailer, as the risk of congestion will be alleviated. Rather than only shipping to a few, massive, centralized distribution centers, consider partnering with smaller centers that are located in regional rather than metropolitan areas. As long as these centers have a relationship with your retailers, or are willing to set one up, you’ll have a better chance of guaranteeing that your freight not only arrives to that center on time, but also that the center can then get your freight to its final destination by the date you guaranteed.

Work with an expert logistics partner

While it may seem tempting to try to save costs by coordinating your LTL shipments yourself, it’s rarely worth the frustration and uncertainty. A freight broker—like Flock Freight®—has established partnerships with reputable and reliable carriers who are experienced with your specific freight and the routes to get it from point A to point B.

Even better, Flock Freight offers shared truckload shipping, providing on-time delivery without any extra work on your end. Our advanced algorithms guarantee truckload service for your LTL shipments. FlockDirect™️, our shared truckload service, pools multiple shipments moving in the same direction on to one truck. By finding freight, carriers, and routes that are going the same direction, Flock Freight creates efficient multi-stop loads that skip the hub-and-spoke model altogether. Shipments move directly from your business to your distribution center on time, every time. This is the shared truckload guarantee — FlockDirect eliminates inefficient LTL routes, ensures hubless shipment for your freight, and gives you full control over pickup and delivery dates.


Try FlockDirect today and experience the difference.