A Retailer’s Checklist for LTL Shipping.

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If you’re a retailer looking to refine your logistics strategy, a focus on LTL shipping might be just what you need. LTL shipping is ideal for retailers who need to send out shipments, but don’t have big enough loads to fill entire trailers. For smaller-sized retailers, it allows you to share the space, and cost, of a trailer with other similar retailers.      

Over the last year, truckload carriers turned away overflow freight, and many retailers had to split or remark their freight into LTL shipments. Although these retailers were new to LTL shipping, it still allowed them to reduce costs, increase security with multiple warehouse checkpoints and track their shipments in nearly real time. LTL shipping helps you focus your freight shipping strategy with special delivery services, open communication and a wide selection of carriers.   

Here’s a complete checklist for retailers to get the most out of LTL:

  • Determine what LTL equipment and services you need
  • Be prepared to deliver on a deadline
  • Optimize your last mile delivery process
  • Work with people you can rely on

 

Determine what LTL equipment and services you need.

In order to get the most out of LTL, you must first know your freight. The characteristics of the products you are shipping have a large impact on the cost of your shipment and the equipment needed to move it. After all, shipping fresh produce has vastly different requirements than shipping clothing or auto parts

Certain kinds of freight will require specific types of trailers, so it is critical to know what specifications your freight might require. For example, refrigerated trailers are needed when shipping temperature-sensitive freight, and flatbeds are used to transport freight that does not require the enclosure of a dry van. Knowing both the type of equipment you need and the dimensions of your freight can help narrow down the list of carriers you’re considering.  

Be sure to know what to expect once your shipment has arrived at its final destination as well. Carriers can provide special services such as limited access and inside pick-up and delivery if it is planned ahead of time and the destination warrants it. Knowing the characteristics of your freight, such as its dimensions, will help you determine the optimal way to package it for transportation. When shipments are packaged improperly, they can take up additional space on the truck and risk damaging other shipments.

 

Be prepared to deliver on a deadline.

The timing of your shipment is almost as important as the actual freight you’re shipping. Retailers of all sizes now offer quicker delivery options as an attempt to keep up with rising customer expectations. 

As a result, more and more carriers are starting to invest in urban fulfillment centers, which are warehouses strategically placed close to large metropolitan cities. This allows retailers to secure warehouse space close to customers and offer quicker delivery options.  

Delayed shipments and inconsistent communication can risk damaging the relationship you have built with customers. Customers expect you to stick to the delivery date you’ve given them, and it is up to you to ensure that anything to the contrary is properly communicated.

Expedited shipping is also a popular customer choice that retailers often encounter. This means that shippers have to find the most efficient means to move their freight as fast as possible. Common uses are for restocking during peak seasons and any freight that may be time-sensitive due to perishability, seasonality or other factors.

 

Optimize your last mile delivery process.

The term “last mile delivery” refers to the transportation of your shipment from the fulfillment center to its final destination: the customer. Not only is this the most important part of the delivery process for retailers, it is also where things tend to go wrong and costs add up. 

You can use last mile delivery to your advantage by providing more delivery options that fit in your customers’ schedules or even allowing your customers to choose a delivery time that works for them. Even further, you can provide a ship-to-store option that allows customers to pick up their shipment from a specific retail store on their own time.

 

Work with partners you can rely on.

To find success when shipping via LTL, you have to have a team you can rely on both internally and externally. The carriers and other service providers you choose to work with don’t have to face the customer at the end of the day, but you do. Seek out partners who can not only satisfy your needs, but go the extra mile to help keep your customers happy. 

Online freight service providers help retailers manage their freight shipping process efficiently and effectively. You can partner with an online service provider to get support with quoting, tracking, optimization, and more. Additionally, relationships with providers like Freightquote by C.H. Robinson grant access to a large network of reliable carriers. When you work with an online service provider, you can provide quicker deliveries, improve workplace productivity, and make ongoing improvements to your freight shipping strategy.

 

Final thoughts.

As a retailer, you don’t have room to make mistakes because the success of your shipping strategy can directly impact customer satisfaction. Any one of your shipments can make or break a relationship with a customer, so it is up to you to establish a reliable freight shipping strategy that you can build on in the long term.

 

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