2021 Year-End Planning for Your FedEx and UPS Shipments

November 15, 2021 at 9:43 AMLeah Palnik
2021 Year-End Planning for Your FedEx and UPS Shipments

The end of the year is usually pretty hectic for a lot of businesses, but 2021 is proving to be one for the books. As you navigate the holiday season and prepare for the year ahead, you’ll want to heed our warnings for your FedEx and UPS parcel shipments.

Ship early
We can’t stress this enough. Delays are becoming more common and will likely get worse the closer we get to Christmas. The FedEx and UPS networks are very strained right now. Fueled by the pandemic and all of its ripple effects, demand for parcel services is at an all-time high. Both FedEx and UPS have suspended service guarantees for their ground services and some of their air/express services, which means you can’t leave things up to chance. Ship early and build in plenty of extra time where you can so you don’t run into major disruptions.

Review holiday shipping deadlines
For retailers, this is especially important. As customers place their orders for holiday gifts, they’ll want to know that they’ll receive them before the big day. FedEx and UPS have released their shipping deadlines, so make sure to review them and plan accordingly. That way you’ll be able to manage expectations appropriately and keep your customers happy.

Prepare for the 2022 rate increases
Don’t sleep on the fact that after you make it through the holiday season, your FedEx and UPS rates will be going up. Both carriers announced that they will be increasing their rates by an average of 5.9%. It’s tempting to take that announced average and budget for your costs to go up by that much, but unfortunately it’s not that simple.

How much your rates will go up in the new year will largely depend on which services you use, your package characteristics, and where you’re shipping to/from. That 5.9% average also doesn’t account for surcharges which can drive up your costs even more. If this all sounds like a major analysis that you don’t have the time to conduct, you’re not alone. That’s why we’ve reviewed the updated rate charts for you. Download our free guide to see a full analysis of what you can expect.

The Essential Guide to the 2022 FedEx and UPS Rate Increases.

Types of LTL Carriers and When You Need Them

November 10, 2021 at 11:04 AMJen Deming

Working with a less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier is a great way to move your larger, palletized loads efficiently and often with some cost-saving benefits when compared to other services. But, even within the LTL service category, there are a few different business models - each offering a different mix of security, speed, and cost. Understanding the benefits of each will help you choose what works best for your business.


Types of LTL Carriers Infographic.

Freight Carrier Closures for the 2021 Holiday Season

November 3, 2021 at 4:25 PMJen Deming
2021 Freight Carrier Closures Blog

2021 has been another challenging year. The freight market continues to be oversaturated with available loads while simultaneously suffering from a capacity crisis. Transit times are delayed, so to ensure timely delivery (you can't count on eight tiny reindeer), you must plan ahead and create a flexible shipping schedule. You'll also need to be mindful of carrier closure dates. We've compiled a list to keep on hand when you're executing your holiday shipping strategy.

Freight carrier closures

  • Saia LTL Freight - will be closed November 25-26, December 23-24, and December 31.
  • YRC Freight – will be closed November 25-26, December 24, and December 31.
  • XPO Logistics – will be closed November 25-26, December 23-24, and December 31.
  • ArcBest – will be closed November 25-26, and December 24.
  • R+L Carriers – will be closed November 25-26, December 24, and December 31.
  • Estes – will be closed November 25-26, and December 24.
  • Dayton Freight – will be closed November 25-26, December 23-24, and December 31.
  • PittOhio – will be closed November 25-26, December 23-24, and December 31.
  • AAA Cooper – will be closed November 25-26, December 23-24, and December 31.
  • TForce Freight - will be closed November 25-26, December 23-24, and December 31.

Santa has his elves, you have a team at PartnerShip

With extra challenges facing your business this year, keep in mind that the freight experts at PartnerShip can help you successfully manage your holiday shipping. Our office will be closed November 25-26, December 24, and December 31 so that we can spend time with our families. Happy Holidays!

7 Strategies to Conquer Peak Season Returns

October 25, 2021 at 2:01 PMJen Deming
7 Strategies to Conquer Peak Season Returns

Shipping during the holidays can be a quite a challenge. Getting packages delivered on time is tough enough, but peak season returns can be an even greater headache. Return shipping is just a part of the retail experience, but with proper planning it is possible to control. Review these seven strategies before you create that plan to help to ensure a more seamless process for your peak season returns.

Strategy #1: Commit to full transparency regarding your return policy

When you think about your own shopping preferences, it becomes clear that reviewing a return policy before purchase is standard procedure. This is especially important if your peak season return policy is different than the rest of the year. Shoppers want to know what they’re getting into before they click “place my order.” When a retailer makes return information easily accessible, the buyer is more likely to make a purchase because there is less risk. 

Proactively communicate the policy in places like order confirmations and follow-up emails. It’s also key to stay in contact during all stages of the buying process. Send order tracking links in emails, send delivery notifications, and create a clear FAQ section on your website that includes contact options. The more information you have readily available for customers, the more confident your buyers will be.

Strategy #2: Optimize your packaging procedures

Shipment volume is alarmingly high, and will be compounded during the holidays. During peak times, your packages will spend more time in transit and encounter more stops along the way. That means more handling at service terminals, which can result in added damages. Take a hard look at your return rates related to damaged shipments. If you’re seeing an above-average trend, consider whether your packaging procedures need to be adjusted. It may make sense to use boxes rather than mailers, for example. Minimizing extra space and adding more bubble wrap or packing foam can better protect your products. If you’re sending out large items, consider breaking them down for transit rather than shipping them assembled. Don’t underestimate how much your packaging can affect your return rate due to damages. 

Strategy #3: Limit returns that are caused by late deliveries

There are always last-minute holiday shoppers — you might even know a few. Late deliveries often lead to returns during the peak season, since they didn’t arrive in time for the big date. Ensure that you make it very clear for customers what the cutoff dates are for their order to be shipped in time for Christmas. An easy-to-scan reference table of this information will help your shoppers avoid late arrivals. 

To determine those cutoff dates, be sure to review the deadlines published by your carrier. You may also want to add in some buffer days in case of any unforeseen delays. During the peak season when demand is high, unfortunately there can be a higher risk of your orders not being delivered in time. 

Make sure you’re also offering expedited options at check-out, to provide a solution for shoppers who need a quicker turnaround. For serious stragglers, offer in-store pick-up if you have a brick-and-mortar option. 

Strategy #4: Improve your returns plan by auditing your process yearly

It’s never a good idea to assume this year’s peak season returns strategy should be the same as last year. Every year, your returns plan and options need to be reviewed. Your first step should be to take a look at your returns rate and the reasons for the returns. Find out whether items are being returned due to product performance, or other issues like damages or late delivery. If it turns out that you have a shipping issue, make sure you’re following our tips mentioned above. 

After you take care of any shipping challenges, look at what returns options measure up with what you can feasibly afford. Free shipping of any kind is a perk, but you need to be mindful of your budget and compensate for that expense. Consider a flexible policy, such as free returns on full-price items, or within a certain window of time. Think about charging for delivery, but keeping returns free. When you’re reviewing whether these options will fit your budget, don’t forget to check carrier rate changes and peak surcharges, both of which affect your shipping costs. From there, you can adjust your returns plan as-needed. 

Strategy #5: Consider on-demand warehousing to simplify orders and returns

The overhead costs involved in setting up and maintaining a warehouse are expensive. Due to the cyclical nature of the industry, many retailers don’t find it worth it to use in-house solutions. On-demand warehousing is a great opportunity for businesses that need short-term fulfillment options but don’t want to be under contract. This strategy helps increase flexibility by housing inventory only when needed. If you have seasonal inventory overflow, on-demand options can help eliminate long-term commitments. For businesses that do not need a warehouse year-round, on-demand warehousing is the way to go. 

Strategy #6 Give your customers a variety of return options

Consumers want return options that fit into their busy lives. Don’t complicate the relationship you have with your customers by making an already disappointing situation even worse. Offer methods that fit preferences and convenience, such as a choice to return product online and in-store. In-store returns give retailers more facetime with the customer and offer a better chance of turning the transaction into an exchange. However, many shoppers want the convenience and time-saving choice of shipping back their order. Consider using carriers like FedEx that allow drop offs at a variety of locations, including FedEx Ship Centers, drop-off boxes, Office Depot, Walgreens, and more.

Strategy #7 Make shipping peak season returns as easy as possible for your customer

While you probably want to avoid returns as often as possible, don’t try to dodge them completely by making the process super complicated. Smart retailers know that they cannot always be avoided — the ultimate goal is to use returns as an opportunity to increase brand satisfaction. Remind your customer of your returns and replacement policy throughout the buying process. Include return information on your order confirmation page and within follow up emails. Choose secure packaging that can be reused if needed, and include labels and instructions for returns with the product you’re shipping out. Think long-term — customers that have a bad experience with a retailer this year, will actively avoid them in the future. Making returns easy creates a positive buying experience, and increases confidence for both you and the customer.

Putting the strategies into action

Retail and peak season returns go hand-in-hand. They aren’t ideal, but if you know how to prepare, manage, and use them to your advantage, your business can thrive during the holidays. PartnerShip has strong relationships with a variety of retail groups, and we are uniquely positioned to help strategize your returns process in a way that works best for your business. From on-demand warehouse solutions to saving money on the costs of returns, we can help make your holiday season a success.

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4 Ways to Ruin Your Holiday Shipping

October 18, 2021 at 4:42 PMJen Deming

Parcel shipping during the holidays is tough. From inventory mismanagement to carrier delays, there are plenty of obstacles that can get in the way of a seamless holiday shipping experience. In our newest video, we take a look at the four mistakes that can absolutely sabotage your peak season shipping.




Ship Early: FedEx and UPS Holiday Shipping Deadlines for 2021

October 14, 2021 at 11:10 AMLeah Palnik
2021 Holiday Shipping Deadlines for FedEx and UPS

As you prepare your store for the influx of orders that come with the holiday season, you’re going to want to keep an eye on the shipping deadlines. Both FedEx and UPS have announced the last dates you can ship your orders and make it in time for a Christmas delivery.

While it’s important to note these deadlines every year, it will be especially crucial this year. UPS and FedEx are currently struggling to keep up with demand for small package shipments and it’s only going to get worse the closer we get to the holidays. To keep your customers happy and set the right expectations, we recommend clearly communicating the shipping cutoff dates and adding in extra days in case of delays.

FedEx has published a complete visual list of the last days to ship. Here are some highlights for domestic shipments:

  • December 9 for FedEx Ground Economy
  • December 15 for FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery
  • December 21 for FedEx Express Saver
  • December 22 for FedEx 2Day and 2Day AM
  • December 23 for FO, PO, SO, and Extra Hours
  • December 24 for FedEx Same Day

UPS has also created a list of the last days to ship for Christmas delivery. Unfortunately, one thing that is missing is a specific cutoff date for Ground shipments. You will need to get a quote on the UPS website instead. For domestic UPS air shipments, the dates are as follows:

  • December 21 for UPS 3 Day Select
  • December 22 for UPS 2nd Day Air
  • December 23 for UPS Next Day Air services

It’s also important to note that service guarantees are currently suspended for both FedEx and UPS ground services. The main takeaway? You’ll want to encourage your customers to order early and do what you can to add in extra days when setting delivery expectations.

If you're looking for any additional guidance or need a way to lower your small package costs, PartnerShip can help. Contact our team today.

Decoding the Most Common FedEx and UPS Surcharges

October 11, 2021 at 4:49 PMJen Deming
FedEx and UPS Surcharges Blog Image

Taking a deep dive into your invoice from FedEx or UPS is a smart move for any shipper. But, once you dig into your statement line by line, chances are you’ll see extra charges that may puzzle you. Those unexpected fees are likely shipping surcharges - costs added to your base price by the carrier. 

Though undeniably complicated, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the surcharges your carrier of choice, FedEx or UPS, may apply to your shipment. The more you know about surcharge types and how they impact your bill, the better you can manage your costs. Taking a look at the most common and costly FedEx and UPS surcharges is a great way to become familiar with what you may see on your bill.

Oversized surcharges

When it comes to parcel shipping, oversized shipment charges often lead the way in expensive fees. Ecommerce has led to larger and more irregular-sized shipments in their networks, and both FedEx and UPS implement pricing strategies to offset the extra costs associated with it. Surcharges related to shipment size and specifications are a way to combat packages that could be transported using another service, like LTL freight. These fees are based on both size and weight limits, and vary between carrier. 

FedEx and UPS charge different amounts for these fees, though both can be well into the hundreds of dollars. Even more importantly, the definition of what is considered “oversized” can change and the amount charged increases annually at the very least.

FedEx has three separate fees for larger shipments, and each has a different set of criteria.

  • Oversized – Applies if your package exceeds 96 inches in length or 130 inches in length and girth combined.
  • Unauthorized – Applies if your package exceeds 108 inches in length, 165 inches in length and girth combined, or 105 pounds in weight.
  • Additional Handling – Applies if your package exceeds 48 inches in length, 30 inches in width, and 105 inches in length and girth combined; or if your packages weighs more than 50 pounds (domestic) or 70 pounds (international).

UPS also charges fees based on a shipment’s size or whether it has handling requirements.

  • Large Package – Applies if your package exceeds 96 inches in length or 130 inches in length and girth combined.
  • Additional Handling – Applies if your package exceeds 48 inches in length, 30 inches in width, or 105 inches in length and girth combined; or if your package weighs more than 50 pounds (domestic) or 70 pounds (international).
  • Over Maximum Limits – Applies if your package exceeds 150 pounds in weight, 108 inches in length, or 165 inches in length and girth combined.

These are the qualifications that apply as of 2021. Keep in mind it’s always important to stay up to date on changes and amendments throughout the year.

Peak surcharges

There are certain times when U.S. shipping volume spikes due to an increase in demand. This spike can be caused by seasonal fluctuations, the economy, or any number of other factors. When more shipments are entering the network, it can be a struggle for carriers to meet this demand. Peak surcharges are fees implemented during these times to help offset the extra work it takes to get these packages delivered, and to help weed out the harder to manage, less profitable shippers. Because demand has surged during the pandemic, we’ve seen an unprecedented amount of peak surcharges for both FedEx and UPS, with adjustments being made as needed. As demand stays elevated, they’re likely to continue, which is why it’s important to review what circumstances dictate these charges. 

Any shipments that require an extra level of effort (either by package characteristics, frequency, extra services required, etc.) are most likely to incur peak surcharges. The first step in determining whether you’ll be seeing peak surcharges is reviewing a few important factors that put your shipments at risk. Larger packages and those that require additional handling like those we’ve outlined above have been historically affected, and continue to be targeted. In addition to the size of the package, if you’re a large shipper who’s seen an increase in volume, you’ve likely seen a significant spike in your costs due to additional peak surcharges. 

Prior to the pandemic, peak surcharges were typically only applied during the holiday season, since that’s when FedEx and UPS saw a consistent increase in package volume. How much the fees cost and what packages they applied to varied by carrier and by year. However there are some trends you can note and typically expect. Just like the peak surcharges that have come along as a result of the pandemic, larger shipments are often targeted with extra fees during the holidays. Residential deliveries are also often hit with peak surcharges since so many people are ordering holiday gifts for loved ones during this time of year, straining the carriers’ networks. 

Fuel surcharges

Fuel costs are another common surcharge that will apply to each and every shipping invoice you receive. As commuters, we are well aware that fuel prices are a large component of transportation costs. Whether you’re shipping small package via delivery van, a full trailer, or by plane, you can imagine how much higher those costs can climb. As fuel consumers, we are also aware that the price of fuel does not stay consistent for any set period of time. Something has to be done so that carriers can be sure they aren’t losing money on fuel costs when they fluctuate.

Fuel surcharges are intended to provide an average cost of fuel, so the carrier is protected from loss if fuel prices rise during the term of a contract. Even still, there is no benchmark surcharge amount. The cost can vary by carrier, and as the price of fuel fluctuates, that surcharge will be amended. There are three primary factors that are used to calculate a fuel surcharge: Base Fuel Rate, Base Fuel Mileage, and Source and Interval of the Average Fuel Price. A Base Fuel Rate is the price that determines when a fuel surcharge is to be activated and applied to a bill. Base Fuel Mileage is the miles per gallon that a truck averages on the road. Source and Interval of the Average Fuel Price is a government determined figure and the only component of fuel surcharges that is regulated.

While there isn’t much that you can do to challenge fuel surcharges, it’s important to understand that they exist to protect the carrier from lost profit. Both FedEx and UPS publish up-to-date fuel surcharge information so that you know how this variable affects the cost of your shipment transportation. 

Residential delivery charges

Out of all the surcharges that exist, it’s essential for retailers to understand the impact of residential delivery when planning their shipping costs. A “residential delivery” is defined as one that a carrier must make to a home, whether it’s a single-family dwelling, apartment building, condo complex, or a dorm on a college campus. These charges are necessary for carriers so that they can offset the inconvenience of handing off one shipment to a single location - clearly less efficient than delivering to businesses. 

Both FedEx and UPS apply residential delivery fees to a variety of scenarios. It’s important to know that businesses operating out of the home will be marked as residential. Additionally, if either the declared delivery location (what’s on the label) or the actual delivery address (in the case of an error) is determined to be residential, the fee will apply. These circumstances are important because while you want to keep costs low, trying to pull one over on the carrier is never a good idea.  

Pick-up fees

Both FedEx and UPS implement fees for a variety of pick-up services. Generally, the fee is calculated depending on the immediacy of the pick-up and the type of location. FedEx breaks down pick-up types into three main categories for its FedEx Express and FedEx Ground services: on-call, return on-call, and regular stop. Each pick-up type has a fee that ranges from no charge to a set cost per package. For regular shippers, there is a maximum weekly fee for cost-savings and convenience.

UPS also offers a variety of pick-up options that are associated with their own charges. Commonly used pick-up options include: UPS On-Call Pickup®, UPS Smart Pickup®, day-specific, and on-route pick-ups. Like with FedEx, as needed services are charged by pick-up or package. Regularly scheduled pick-ups are charged weekly fees that may fluctuate, usually depending on shipment volume.

It’s important to know that pick-up fees are higher for residential locations, metro areas, and inside pick-up services. As in the case of most surcharges, these fees can change, and you should always consult either carrier’s latest service guide for a complete picture of costs. If using pick-up services is cost prohibitive for you, you should consider reviewing drop-off locations as an alternative. 

Third-party billing fees

Both FedEx and UPS charge third-party billing fees. These fees are a percentage of the total bill, including base charges and any accessorials needed. As of 2021, UPS and FedEx charge 4.5%. That percentage might sound low, but it can add up fast. If your business is using multiple manufacturers or suppliers to help fulfill your orders, you will be seeing third-party billing fees for each order. It’s also important to note that this fee may cost more in the future, as it has already seen some increases in the past.

FedEx and UPS started instituting a third-party billing largely in response to the increased use of drop shipping by ecommerce retailers. Drop shipping is a process where, rather than keeping inventory on hand, sellers may use a supplier or manufacturer to fulfill and ship orders directly to the customer. As the third-party bill-to, the seller is neither the shipper nor receiver, but is paying the shipping charges.

If you’re often using third-party billing as an option, it may be possible to negotiate rates with your carrier. You may be able to get the fee removed through your agreement, or lower the percentage charged, especially if you’re creating a lot of business for the carrier. 

Other notable surcharges

We’ve covered common surcharges that will impact your shipping invoice the most. However, there are several other service fees that you may see.

  • Address correction - associated with changes a carrier must make to correct a given address
  • Signature services  - proof of delivery via signature in order to protect against liability
  • Weekend pick-up/delivery – completing shipments outside a carrier’s normal hours of operation
  • Delivery area – extra effort it takes to drive out to hard to reach locations, such as rural areas

A general rule of thumb to always remember: if your shipment needs services that require extra effort from the carrier, there is probably an associated charge.

How to prepare for these fees

Most FedEx and UPS surcharges are simply part of the business, and are unavoidable. As a component of your total shipping invoice, you should take the time and effort to understand why they’ve been implemented. Most importantly, a thorough knowledge of the basics can help identify how they will impact your business based on your unique shipping needs. It’s unbelievably important to stay up-to-date on surcharge adjustments and increases by looking at annual service guides periodically. Auditing parcel invoices regularly can help identify which surcharges you’re seeing most frequently. 

By understanding how these fees impact your shipping spend, you can create a better plan of action for both your shipping operations and your pricing strategy. Working with a 3PL that is familiar with FedEx and UPS surcharges can help take the stress out of sorting through the data. At PartnerShip, we can help simplify things for your business – from conducting a shipping analysis to publishing resources that offer a Cliff’s Notes version of service guide mayhem.


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Missed LTL Pick-Ups: Key Ways to Get Your Freight on the Road

September 15, 2021 at 10:30 AMJen Deming
Missed LTL Pick-Up Blog Image

Question: what’s worse than your LTL shipment running late for delivery? Answer: How about when your shipment isn’t picked up to begin with? Missed LTL pick-ups are a unique shipping challenge because the trouble occurs before the shipment even hits the road. Regardless whether you’re the shipper or the receiver, freight that’s left on the dock can mean delivery delays, playing phone-tag with the carrier, and a few other headaches. 

Missed pick-ups are very common in LTL freight shipping, even more so as demand increases and capacity shrinks. They usually occur when errors are made scheduling a shipment, or if a pick-up location is unprepared or inflexible regarding the carrier’s arrival. Sometimes, it’s due to a carrier running late because other shippers ran overtime. The good news is that many missed pick-ups are avoidable and there are steps you can take to ensure your freight gets loaded. We’ve broken down key ways to get your freight moving so missed freight pick-ups aren’t as common.

Understand your carrier’s pick-up schedule

The first step to avoiding missed LTL pick-ups is understanding how a carrier operates. Carriers typically complete deliveries in the morning, and only after those are completed are new loads picked up throughout the afternoon. Carriers create a plan of action early when scheduling pick-ups and deliveries. Missed pick-ups commonly occur when a shipper tries to squeeze it in too late in the day as an attempt to get a jump on transit. In most cases, it’s extremely difficult to get an LTL shipment picked up the same day. If your warehouse has early close times, this makes pick-ups even more difficult, and you’ll likely see a “freight not ready” designation when tracking your freight status.

To ensure your shipment gets moving, be realistic in your timelines and give the carrier 24 hours’ notice. Respect how a freight carrier must operate to complete their schedule. The more you accommodate the carrier, the more likely they are to be flexible with you, as well. 

Request special services at the time of scheduling

Special services that are necessary to complete a pick-up are often missed when scheduling with the carrier. For example, if you don’t have a dock or proper loading equipment, you’ll need a liftgate. They are often available, but they are not standard on every freight truck. The carrier must be notified when scheduling so the proper truck is dispatched. The same goes for businesses with tricky locations categorized as "limited access". Should you need a pup or box truck, this must be mentioned to the carrier, because smaller, more maneuverable trucks are harder to find. 

If you’re arranging the shipment, but aren’t the pick-up location, make sure you find out from your shipper whether or not they will need these special services. Mention and confirm these requests when scheduling with the carrier. If this is missed, another pick-up is not likely to be attempted the same day. Instead your carrier will return the next business day.

Get a confirmation number and ETA 

When you complete a scheduled pick-up successfully, either by phone or online, you will always be given a confirmation number. This number is a simple way to ensure everything was scheduled correctly and you’re “on the board”, a carrier term for scheduled and set to dispatch. The confirmation number contains a code that is unique to certain carriers. At the time of scheduling, you may receive an ETA from the driver. The ETA can help the shipper prepare for arrival, so a pick-up runs smoothly.

When scheduling your pick-up, be sure to note the confirmation code and double-check that it’s accurately representing your chosen carrier. Share this number with whomever will be a part of the pick-up process, so that if there are any delays, you can confirm that it was scheduled correctly.

Create flexibility in your warehouse operating hours

As a general rule of thumb, the more open you are, the better for the carrier. And we mean that literally. Truck drivers are constantly combating delays during transit, whether due to traffic, weather, or even being held up at another location. Time is money, especially in trucking. A simple delay can interrupt a day’s worth of pick-ups, and trouble can snowball quickly. 

By extending hours through weekends, or adding as-needed late or early shifts to your warehouse, the carrier will have an easier time completing your pick-up. Keep in mind that the driver wants to check off all of their scheduled stops, so they don’t carry over into the next day. By expanding your dock hours when needed, they will complete their workload and you can rest easy knowing your freight’s moving. 

Prepare paperwork and prep the load before pick-up 

As we’ve mentioned, to keep on track, carriers must spend the least amount of time possible at each location. Common reasons a driver may be delayed are because the BOL and paperwork aren’t prepared, or the load isn’t packed and prepped in time. As the capacity crunch tightens, carriers are even less flexible than they have been in the past. If your location isn’t prepared, you can bet the driver will leave if you’re running too deep into detention time. 

Make sure that if you’re the shipper, you have all paperwork ready. If you are shipping special loads such as hazmat or cross-border freight, those required documents must be in order, as well. Also important, be sure that your freight is properly packaged and staged for easy loading. If you have especially fragile loads, and your packaging isn’t up to par, the driver may choose to leave the shipment due to the added risk.

Check specs to ensure available space on truck

An important point to note is that pallet count, weights, and dimensions aren’t just for calculating your shipping costs. In LTL shipping, you share the truck space with other customers’ loads. The specifications you provide determine rates, but also help the driver plan for what will fit on the truck. Proper measurements reveal how much space is left in the trailer for other shipments. Incorrect specs can throw off a driver’s schedule, preventing other customers from loading after you.

If a carrier decides your shipment’s specs are just too different from what was planned, you guessed it, they’ll leave it on the dock. Keep this in mind if you consider estimating freight dimensions or sneaking on any extra pallets that you have ready. Make sure your measurements and weight match what’s on your BOL. Surprises are great, but not for your arriving truck driver.

Concluding points

It’s important to remember that missed pick-ups are common and sometimes unavoidable. The silver lining, however, is that some are within your control. If you want smooth sailing for your LTL freight, review these best practices to start your shipment’s journey off right. 

As more warehouse teams have increasing responsibilities, tracking and managing pick-ups can take up tons of time. 3PLs like PartnerShip can help proactively check on your loads and find out why there may be any holdups – freeing up your time and to-do list.


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The Current State of Freight: What You Can Expect

August 31, 2021 at 10:05 AMLeah Palnik

To say the freight market is strained right now might be an understatement. If you’ve experienced significantly higher rates and less reliability from your carriers, you’re not alone. As someone who is shipping freight, it’s critical to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the market in order to navigate the challenges that are coming with it. Let’s break down the factors that have led us here and what we can expect moving forward.

Key factors that have led to challenges in the transportation industry
Like so many other industries, freight transportation has been rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the cultural shifts that have come along with it. The pandemic not only created new challenges, but also exasperated existing pain points in the market – leading to the perfect storm. It all boils down to a case of supply vs. demand.

  • Consumer buying is strong and is driving up demand. While the world was locked down, we weren’t spending money on vacations or going out to eat. In many cases those spending dollars went towards buying goods instead. Retailers are doing what they can to keep up with demand and as a result, have an increased need for trucks to deliver their much needed inventory.
  • There is a truck driver shortage. The driver shortage is old news, but it is still very relevant now. Sometimes there just simply aren’t enough drivers available to take on new loads. For years, there have been more drivers retiring and leaving the profession than there have been new drivers entering the market. Unfortunately, the open road hasn’t been as attractive to this generation of the workforce as it once was.
  • Building new tractors are constrained by parts availability. Not only is it hard to move freight with less available drivers, but now we are also seeing a limit on new trucks on the road. Supply chains for many goods have been seriously disrupted thanks to the pandemic, and parts that are needed to build new tractors are no exception.

How LTL carriers are responding
With such volatile market conditions, LTL carriers are forced to respond. As no surprise, a major course of action they’ve taken is to increase rates. Simple economics tells us that an increased demand means they can charge more for their services.

Not only are they increasing rates, but they’re also looking to shed less desirable freight from their networks. Loads deemed less profitable, or more trouble than they’re worth, are harder to get covered because carriers want to prioritize loads that allow them to work efficiently and profitably.

Missed pickups, declined freight, and temporary terminal embargos have now become common place and plague freight carriers across the country, regardless of the company name and logo on the side of the truck.

LTL freight observations from the front lines
Many of our customers are exhausted dealing with carrier issues. In a survey we conducted earlier this year, 78% of respondents cited rising shipping costs as a challenge they were currently facing. Along with that, 47% noted they were experiencing longer transit times and 36% were dealing with poor carrier performance.

Freight shipping challenges

Our team has also noticed several concerning trends pop up with freight carriers. As if raising base rates wasn’t enough, we’ve seen them put in extra effort to collect on everything they can. Accessorial fees that you may not have seen on your bill in the past are now showing up for services you’ve always received. The carriers just aren’t as lax as they may have been in the past for charging for these extra services.

Because freight networks are so strained, we’re also seeing an uptick in missing shipments. If this has happened to you, you know how stressful it can be. The carriers are also doing everything in their power to deny claims for both missing and damaged shipments. They’re wanting to see them filed sooner than ever before and are requiring a great deal of evidence.

Estimated transit times for LTL freight has never been guaranteed, but now more than ever, we’re seeing shipments miss that predicted window. Unfortunately, longer transit times and missed pick-ups are becoming extremely prevalent, again due to how ill equipped carriers are to meet the current freight demand.

The quickly recovering economy is creating a new environment, in which all industries are competing for freight capacity and causing a new set of standards. Some shippers may be shocked by new carrier practices - from new fees to increased pickup and delivery times.

What can you do?
You may want to live by the old adage about how you can’t change others, only yourself. It’s not within your power to control carrier performance or consumer demand, but you can educate yourself and act accordingly.

  • Use a quality broker, like PartnerShip. While brokers have no control over what a carrier ultimately does with a shipment, a quality freight broker will provide the communication and creative solutions you need when caught up in an issue.
  • Follow the tried-and-true best practices for overcoming capacity challenges. Expand your current carrier network, build in extra time at every step of the shipping process, consolidate your shipments, and consider alternative services. While it’s not always possible to implement these strategies, following them any time the market is experiencing tight capacity can be very advantageous to your operations.
  • Become a shipper of choice. This means making your freight desirable to carriers. You probably aren’t able to change what you’re shipping, but there are some factors you can control. Being flexible with pick-up and delivery times, ensuring ease of access for the truck, and avoiding long detention times are all things carriers ultimately appreciate.

The widely reported driver shortage is very real, but it is only part of the challenge. Capacity is increasing, but not as quickly as the demand grows. Organizations that can adjust and plan accordingly will do a great deal to minimize disruptions in their supply chain.

Moving forward
Back to school season is upon us and the holidays are right around the corner. In short, demand is not expected to drop anytime soon. Will the supply side be able to catch up? Not likely. Recruiting and retaining the needed labor force will continue to be one of the biggest challenges in the industry. And as we enter hurricane season and another COVID-19 surge, we could see even more network disruptions.

At this point, it’s important to manage expectations. You’ll want to budget for higher freight costs and be mindful of potential delays, so you’re not caught off guard. For everything in-between, our team has the expertise to help you navigate these challenges. Contact PartnerShip today and lean on us when you need it most.

4 Key Factors That Affect Your Freight Class

August 24, 2021 at 7:56 PMJen Deming

Freight classification is a type of product categorization unique to freight shipping. It relies on four factors that help determine cost: density, stowability, liability, and handling. Once you have a general understanding of these variables, you can better calculate how your class (and cost) will be determined. 

4 Key Factors That Affect Your Freight Class Infographic