Get Control of Your Holiday Shipments

October 11, 2017 at 11:27 AMLeah Hyland
Get Control of Your Holiday Shipments

As a consumer, it might feel like it’s too soon to start thinking about the holidays, but retailers know that waiting is not an option. If you’re in the retail industry, you’ve probably already been receiving shipments from your vendors and preparing for the increase in business. As you’re getting ready for this busy time of year, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.

Set up inbound management
While you’re forecasting sales and preparing your inventory for the holiday season, it’s more important than ever to make sure you are properly managing your inbound shipments. You need to have a good relationship with your vendors and be assured that they’ll be able to deliver your goods on time. You need efficient routings set up and you need to be able to plan ahead so you can avoid costly expedited services when you’re replenishing throughout the season.

This is where working with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider or broker can make a big difference. A quality 3PL will create routings for you and ensure vendor compliance. They can also make sure you’re getting the best rates and service options for your time-sensitive shipments, by utilizing their buying power in the market.

Make sure your website is prepared for increased traffic
Online shopping is more popular than ever and will be a crucial part of your sales this holiday season. Don’t let technical issues get in the way of sales, when customer traffic to your site will likely be the highest of all year. Use a reliable web host and develop back-up plans in case of problems.

Clearly communicate shipping deadlines
There are some of us who are guilty of waiting until the last minute to do their holiday shopping. When’s the last day to order for Christmas? Do you offer expedited options or any special seasonal guarantees that could give you a leg up over the competition? Managing customer expectations will increase your customer satisfaction. Clearly communicate this information on your website, during the purchasing process, and in emails to your subscribers.

Consider special promotions
Now is the time to pull out all the stops to maximize your sales. People are looking to buy, and it’s your job to incentivize them to bring their hard earned dollars to your store. According to a report by the National Retail Federation, 50% of shoppers cited a limited-time sale or promotion as the reason they were swayed to purchase an item they were on the fence about.

Even more notable, 64% of shoppers said that free shipping has influenced them to make a purchase. Offering free shipping has become the new normal in the world of ecommerce. If you’re worried about the costs of “free shipping” there are several different strategies you could try. For example, try setting the free shipping threshold above your average order amount to increase the amount people spend when making a purchase on your site. When executed properly, consumers will be more likely to add items to their cart to meet the minimum and it becomes a win-win.

Be aware of holiday surcharges
UPS recently introduced an additional surcharge for residential shipments during their peak season. The charge applies during two of the busiest online shopping days of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and for the week before Christmas. We don’t have to tell you that these are very critical parts of the year for your online orders. These charges can add up quickly and cut into your profits for the season. The good news is, FedEx won’t be following in their footsteps. The UPS competitor is only implementing an additional surcharge for oversized packages and special handling. Evaluate how you’re shipping out customer orders now and make any necessary changes before these times hit.

Set up a streamlined returns process
With increased holiday sales comes the inevitable – returns. According to a Narvar Consumer Report, 74% of customers said return shipping fees will prevent them from making a purchase. On the flip side, 72% said that a “no questions asked” return policy would make them more likely to buy from a retailer. The influence of the return policy on the purchase decision is undeniable. Make your return policy as customer friendly as possible and communicate it clearly at the beginning of the shopping experience. Also, take proactive steps like providing return labels in the original order and offering in-store returns so it is less of a headache for you and your customers.

Striking a balance with inventory, preparing your online store for increased traffic, and being mindful of your shipping options over the holidays can help make your season bright. When you work with PartnerShip, our shipping experts will help you with routings and ensure you’re receiving competitive pricing on your inbound and outbound shipments so you can focus on your business. Contacts us for a free shipping analysis to see how we could help you.

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FedEx Announces General Rate Increases for 2018

October 5, 2017 at 10:33 AMLeah Hyland
FedEx Announces Rate Increases for 2018

You may have heard that FedEx announced its General Rate Increases (GRI) for 2018. In the past few years, UPS has been the first of the two major small package carriers to make an announcement for the coming year, but this time FedEx is taking the lead.

Here are the announced average increases that will take effect January 1, 2018:

  • 4.9% for FedEx Express domestic and international services
  • 3.5% for FedEx One Rate
  • 4.9% for FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery
  • 4.9% for FedEx Freight

As it’s important to remember every year, these averages don’t paint a complete picture. The zones you typically ship to and the services you typically use could dramatically affect the actual increase you’ll see on your invoices. Some are much higher than the average, while others are much lower or remain the same. UPS is likely to make its announcement for 2018 rates soon and if history is any indication, the averages will be similar to its competitor. 

FedEx and UPS traditionally have similar average rate increases, but in the last few years their base rates have diverged a bit. Ground base rates used to be nearly identical, but in 2017 the two carriers took different increases in different zones, making it harder to compare apples-to-apples. On top of that, they also implemented slightly different approaches to dimensional (DIM) weight pricing, by using different DIM factors. As a result, looking at what would be most cost effective for you and how your rates will change has become more complicated.

Another trend that we’ve seen from UPS and FedEx is the announcements of additional changes throughout the year, separate from the GRIs. The announced averages have gone down in recent years, but these mid-year adjustments can sometimes have a larger impact.

One example of this is the new peak season surcharges that UPS is implementing for the holidays this year. UPS recently announced that it will apply a 27-cent charge on all ground residential packages during its busiest weeks in November and December. FedEx is taking a notably different approach and forgoing any additional holiday residential surcharges except for  packages that are big or bulky enough to require special handling.

Both UPS and FedEx attribute charges like this to the rise of e-commerce, which has brought a sharp increase in residential shipments, particularly oversized items like furniture and exercise equipment. These kind of parcel shipments put a strain on their networks and their sorting machinery, and they've been finding ways to make up for these costs.

FedEx is also making a couple of additional moves to address the changing nature of parcel shipments in 2018. It will now apply a surcharge for shipments with third-party billing – mimicking a move that UPS made at the beginning of 2016. FedEx will also begin applying a DIM factor of 139 to all SmartPost parcels, effective January 22. UPS already applies DIM weight pricing to SurePost packages, but uses a higher DIM factor for packages 1,728 cubic inches and under.

Every year, when the new rates for UPS and FedEx are out, PartnerShip does a complete analysis so you can determine what effect it will have on your business. Subscribe to the PartnerShip Connection blog to be alerted when it’s out so you can start planning for the new year and learn how to mitigate the rising costs of small package shipping. 

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Understanding Partial Truckload and Volume LTL Will Make You More Competitive

September 20, 2017 at 10:35 AMJerry Spelic

It’s sort of like the “Twilight Zone” of freight: the murky gray area between less-than-truckload (LTL) and full truckload shipping. Many shippers only use either LTL or full truckload, but sometimes a load is bigger than LTL but not as large as a full truckload. When this happens, you can ship your freight partial truckload or volume LTL.

Do you know the difference between partial truckload and volume LTL shipping? Or when you should use these services? Understanding partial truckload and volume LTL shipping and when to use each will make you a smarter, more competitive shipper.

In the LTL world, these in-between shipments are called volume LTL, and in the truckload world they are called partials (for partial truckload). For many shippers, the choice between services depends on transit time, rate and service level required.

First of all, let’s define the services and explain the difference between partial truckload and volume LTL shipping.

Partial truckload
Shipments that are larger than LTL but less than a full truck trailer are considered partial truckload. Partial truckload shipments usually range from 8 to 18 pallets, 8,000 to 27,500 pounds, and occupy more than 12 feet of linear space in a trailer.

Volume LTL
Large shipments that do not require a full truck trailer and that are typically 6 or more pallets, weigh over 5,000 pounds, or occupy more than 12 linear feet in a trailer can be considered volume LTL.

Clear as mud, right? The reality is that in many cases partial truckload and volume LTL freight is the exact same thing, but the differences are in its pricing, classing, transit time and handling.

The main differences between partial truckload and volume LTL shipments:

  • Partial truckload shipments do not require a freight class; volume LTL shipments do
  • Partial truckload rates are established by the market and are determined by mileage, specific lane, weight and space required; volume LTL quotes are obtained from an LTL carrier and are based on a carrier’s published LTL rates
  • Partial truckload carriers usually do not stop at hubs or terminals, leading to a higher percentage of on-time deliveries, less handling of freight and less damage
  • Partial truckload carriers typically offer freight insurance, which is often greater than the freight liability LTL carriers offer
  • Volume freight must be crated or on pallets in order to move through an LTL carrier’s system; truckload freight does have the same requirement

To illustrate the potential difference between partial truckload and volume LTL pricing, we priced out a sample shipment.

The freight:

  • 8 pallets, 48”x40”x96”
  • 12,530 lbs.
  • Non-hazardous, non-flammable petroleum oil in plastic bottles (Class 65)
  • Ship from: Macedonia, OH 44056
  • Ship to: Laredo, TX 78040

Volume LTL cost - $1,593.00

Partial truckload cost - $1,195.00

LTL networks are generally optimized for shipments less than 12 linear feet and one to six pallets, and because this shipment example falls outside of those parameters, the volume freight cost is higher than the partial truckload cost.

Some helpful partial truckload shipping tips:

  • Shippers must be more flexible on the pickup and/or delivery dates than for LTL shipments
  • Loads traveling less than 250 miles are usually not good candidates for partials
  • Floor-loaded or loose items are not ideal for partials
  • Partial truckload shipping rates are contingent on available capacity, lanes and distance
  • If pickup or delivery appointments are required, there is a high probability that appointments will be missed and layover fees may apply due to the variables involved with partials

Partial truckload services aren’t offered by every carrier but a freight broker like PartnerShip can help you find partial truckload or volume LTL capacity. We work with a large network of LTL and truckload freight carriers and will find you the best rate and service level for your needs. Contact our shipping experts at 800-599-2902 or email whenever you need to ship smarter.

Get a free quote on your next LTL freight shipment or truckload freight shipment!

PartnerShip Provides Free Shipping for Hurricane Harvey Relief

September 13, 2017 at 2:35 PMJerry Spelic

Hurricane Harvey was one of the most devastating storms of the past century and the cleanup is underway in Houston, Texas. PartnerShip wanted to do its part to help recovery efforts and has partnered with several local Westlake, OH community organizations to provide drop-off locations for items needed to help Houston and its residents get back on their feet. PartnerShip will pay the cost of shipping donated items to the Houston Food Bank.

“We wanted to help,” says PartnerShip President and COO, John Finucane, “and the best way to do that was to arrange and pay the cost of shipping the most needed items, like non-perishables, paper products and cleaning supplies, so that they could be distributed to those that need it most.”

The needed items list includes:

  • Canned, ready-to-eat items with pull tops, like vegetables and fruit
  • Protein in pouches or pull-top cans, such as tuna, beef stew, chili, and canned chicken
  • Peanut butter
  • Snacks, like granola bars, breakfast bars, etc.
  • Toiletries, paper goods and diapers
  • Bug spray
  • Garbage bags and cleaning supplies, like mops, buckets, brooms, bleach wipes, and bleach

Donations can be made at these Westlake, OH community drop-off locations:

While we appreciate any act of generosity, we ask that these items not be donated: clothing, used items, fresh fruit and vegetables, and perishable food items.

Our neighbor SJT Enterprises will store, sort and palletize the donations until they are ready to be shipped to Houston.

If you would like to help in the recovery, monetary donations can also be made to your choice of organization:

Drop-off donations will be accepted until Saturday, September 30, 2017, but financial donations can be made at any time to the organizations listed above.

PartnerShip Sends a Big “Thank You” to Truck Drivers

September 8, 2017 at 9:42 AMJen Deming

National Truck Driver Appreciation Week is nearly here and PartnerShip would like to recognize the men and women truck drivers who dedicate themselves to moving our freight where we need it to go. “Our truck drivers work safely and efficiently to deliver America’s goods and deserve this recognition all year round. We set aside this week to pay special tribute to their continued work and excellence for America,” said American Trucking Associations (ATA) COO and Executive Vice President of Industry Affairs Elisabeth Barna.