3 Smart Ways to Ship Freight in the City

May 24, 2022 at 1:18 PMJen Deming

Too much traffic, too few parking options, and an overabundance of air pollution are all obstacles that shippers will encounter when shipping city freight. Before you jump in headfirst, make sure you are brushing up on these key strategies that can help avoid urban shipping headaches.

Ranking the Top 3 Retail Shipping Mistakes

May 5, 2022 at 11:14 AMJen Deming
Top 3 Shipping Mistakes Blog Post

Successful retailers have to be next-level multitaskers. However, with so many operating as small businesses, a large portion are running things without a dedicated shipping department. Doing this may be necessary, but it’s easy to make costly mistakes. By looking at what errors are the most important to be wary of, retailers can better sort out the correct way to manage their small package shipping. Let’s take a look at the top three retail shipping mistakes to avoid, starting with #1.

Mistake 1 - Giving inbound shipment control to your vendors 

When you’re receiving inbound shipments, oftentimes the shipping is arranged by vendors. This may seem like the easy way to go, but you could be overpaying on each shipment from every vendor, compounding cost and other challenges that may affect your business. When the vendor arranges your shipping, they choose the carrier and control the cost of transportation, making this a very common retail shipping mistake.

Why choose inbound collect over vendor prepaid?

Choosing inbound collect shipping over vendor prepaid can give you better control over what you’re spending on your shipments and which carrier is used. You can also control which services your business needs, such as specialized equipment or accessorials like liftgates. Additionally, being invoiced directly by the carrier may eliminate any handling or markup fees your vendor could add into the total charges. 

PartnerShip can help simplify the process

While managing your inbound orders may seem like a lot of work, partnering with a 3PL can help reduce the amount of effort you have to put in. A quality 3PL like PartnerShip can provide you with competitive pricing and determine if switching from vendor prepaid to inbound collect makes for your business. Inbound experts at PartnerShip can also help create routing instructions and review and enforce vendor compliance. 

Mistake 2 - Ignoring DIM weight pricing

Dimensional (DIM) weight pricing is a strategy implemented by carriers to offset the cost, time, and energy spent on moving large or bulky shipments through the small package network. This pricing structure focuses on the amount of space your shipment takes up in relation to its actual weight. Overlooking the impact of DIM weight pricing on your total costs is a crucial retail shipping mistake.

Your DIM weight is determined by the dimensions of your shipment. To cut down on time wasted in your already-packed schedule, we have created a DIM weight calculator. If the figure you calculate is higher than your actual weight, then that is what you will be billed on. 

Luckily, there are some strategies that retailers can use to help limit DIM weight charges:

  • Right-size your packages by minimizing wasted space inside boxes
  • Consolidate orders to reduce the total amount of packages being sent

ECommerce Shipping Stat

Why retailers need to be mindful of DIM weight

Retailers ship a lot of small packages, whether you’re receiving orders from suppliers or shipping purchases out to customers. In fact, a large component of retail sales are comprised of ecommerce. Due to the sheer volume of packages being shipped, costs can multiply rapidly, especially if your packages are subject to DIM weight pricing. Retailers must be strategic about how orders are packaged.

Mistake 3 - Not taking advantage of shipping discounts

The worst shipping mistake that retailers can make is assuming the current rates you’re getting are the best available to you. While large retailers may be able to negotiate substantial discounts directly with FedEx or UPS, it’s more challenging for smaller businesses, especially when many of the discounts are based on volume or may just be promotional. 

Small businesses can succeed

Smaller retail businesses can still obtain discounts through their affiliations. Trade associations, chambers of commerce, or other organizations will oftentimes offer discounts to businesses. By partnering with a variety of service providers, your membership dues can be offset by the benefits and discounts you receive.

PartnerShip works with over 130 trade associations and other groups, including several well-known retail organizations, like NSRA and NAMM. By leveraging carrier relationships and industry connections, we help make exclusive FedEx discounts available to retailers, no matter the size of your business or shipping volume.  

Avoiding mistakes is the first step to successful small package shipping

Small package shipping can be challenging for any team, especially for smaller retail businesses who may not even have a dedicated shipping department. Retailers must keep in mind that they have a few extra important shipping mistakes to avoid that could cause you to pay more for shipping than necessary.

No matter the size of your retail business, avoiding these common pitfalls can ensure smooth shipping and lower costs. PartnerShip can help with every one of these challenges, including obtaining competitive pricing. Get in touch with the small package experts at PartnerShip to learn more.

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How to Save on Shipping While Reducing Packaging Waste

April 11, 2022 at 11:22 AMJen Deming
Packaging Waste Blog

We love shopping online. Nothing beats the convenience of delivery, variety of product options, and satisfaction of adding things to a virtual cart and clicking ‘buy now’. Unfortunately, the perks of ecommerce do have a flipside - the environmental impact of shipment packaging waste. Ecommerce shipping actually has about four times as many touch-points as regular retail. This means more packing and unpacking individual orders to customers – leading to even more packaging waste. Savvy e-retailers are minimizing their environmental impact by using eco-friendly shipping tactics and by using less wasteful packaging procedures. Even better, reducing your shipment packaging waste is a sustainable practice that is both eco-friendly and a smart way to lower shipping costs, through these three easy tips.

Online order touchpoint graphicTip 1: Reduce the amount of your packaging 

If you’re a shrewd retailer, you know that your choice of packaging can protect your product, prevent damage, and enhance the value of your brand through the unboxing experience. But not every product ordered online needs to be shipped within layer upon layer of branded boxes and plastic packaging. Taking a “less is more” approach can help balance both cost and structural integrity, in addition to lowering packaging waste. 

Box versus mailer graphic

When you’re considering what types of shipment packaging to use, retailers have a ton of options. Packaging materials include paper, plastic, or chipboard boxes, foil or poly envelopes, bubble mailers, jute, vinyl, or cotton bags, and many other options. Dunnage, or the internal “protective” material inside the shipment can be Styrofoam, cardboard, kraft paper, soft or rigid plastics, and bubble wrap. Each option has its own cost, key benefit, and impact on the environment. Research what types of shipment packaging make the most sense to adequately protect your product, and then eliminate the use of unnecessary extra materials. Always keep in mind that you can reduce your initial cost and environmental impact by choosing simple, but effective shipment packaging that makes sense for your product and consumer.

Tip 2: Reduce the weight and dimensions of your shipment 

It’s clear that wasteful packaging procedures can drive up initial costs, but keep in mind that any unnecessary materials can also affect your shipment rates due to weight and density. Your parcel rate is determined in large part by region, distance traveled, and weight. Heavy shipments put more strain on trucks and utilize more fuel when hauling loads. As a result, carriers will charge you more for added weight.Trucking C02 emissions graphic

Another factor that can affect your shipment cost is dimensional weight. DIM weight pricing is used by carriers to offset the cost of moving large and bulky shipments in their network. This pricing strategy focuses not just on the actual weight, but also the amount of space your shipment takes up. Your DIM weight is determined by the dimensions of your shipment. If the calculated DIM weight is higher than the actual weight, your shipment will be rated on that.

Elaborate packaging with multiple components inside runs the risk of wasted interior space, so making sure that you right-size your package is important. Ensure that there is no empty space within your shipping box after the product and protective materials are added in. Reducing wasted space within your shipment can lower your final bill, and greatly reduces packaging waste that can be harmful to the environment. 

Tip 3: Encourage your customer to use your packaging for returns 

With more people preferring to shop online, the need for convenient returns options increases. Being intentional in how you approach your returns can help lower reverse logistics costs while remaining environmentally conscious.

Every online shopper knows that preparing to ship a return can be a pain.  No one loves rummaging through a garage of broken-down boxes hoping to find one adequate for use. It’s not as simple as grabbing an empty box - the package must be structurally sound and free of pre-existing labels to avoid hiccups on the road. 

Do your customers (and yourself) a favor, and make this process even easier by utilizing return-ready packaging for your orders, including resealable boxes, envelopes, and mailers.  Include pre-printed shipping labels with return addresses and packing slips to help make the process even simpler. By providing return-ready packaging, you’re ensuring that the package is right-sized for pre-paid shipping labels and services. As a retailer, you’re taking steps to avoid possible damages or loss by providing packaging options that securely protect your product while in transit. 

In short, by providing return-ready packaging, you’re taking back control of return shipments by managing several variables that may lead to costly surprises and packaging waste. 

Reducing packaging waste benefits everyone

Retailers have a unique opportunity to improve the eco-footprint left by their businesses. Environmentally friendly shipping practices can help lower emissions on the road, reduce packaging waste headed for landfills, and lower costs. To further improve your environmental impact, consider working with a sustainably minded shipping provider, like PartnerShip. We elect to work with carriers that prioritize energy efficiency in trucks and facilities, minimize air-pollution, and offer transparency through data about fuel usage and impact. Optimizing your packaging is a smart place to start – learn how with our downloadable, free white paper.

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5 Foolproof Ways to Take on Manufacturing Shipping Challenges

January 11, 2022 at 3:07 PMJen Deming
5 Foolproof Ways to Take On Manufacturing Shipping Challenges

The manufacturing industry is vital to our economy, but producing components and materials is just the first step in the fulfillment process. Manufacturers have to make sure products are shipped efficiently, arrive on time, and don’t experience damage. In addition to rising costs and other issues we’ve seen across all industries, manufacturers face a unique set of logistics obstacles. You may be shipping large, fragile shipments that are expensive and hard to handle. Services and equipment needs can vary day-to-day, so it’s important to find the right shipping solutions that meet your specific needs. Read on to learn five foolproof ways to take on manufacturing shipping challenges.

  1. Prioritize the safety of your loads

    Manufacturers ship a wide variety of commodities, from small parts and components, to fully-assembled heavy machinery. For any-sized load, you need to take the safety and security of your shipments into consideration in order to limit damage and other issues. Start with regularly auditing your parcel and freight carriers to ensure their service levels meet your business expectations. Spec out your shipping safety “need to haves,” such as security during transit, carrier reputation, and damage statistics. Keep track of what’s working, as well as any issues you are experiencing with current carriers. If they aren’t making the cut, do some research. Who do your customers and colleagues prefer working with and why? Try out new carrier options and look into alternate service levels that may better offset your shipping challenges. Most importantly, ensure that your preferred carriers are communicated to your shipping department and warehouse team as well as any outside parties such as suppliers who may be arranging your shipping.

    Because security is of the utmost importance, ensure that your packaging is perfected, whether you are shipping small parts via parcel services or large freight orders. You should use quality materials and keep some basics in mind:

    • Don’t reuse packaging to ensure structural integrity
    • Limit extra space to avoid shifting and breakage during transit
    • Use pallet wrap to keep loose components together
    • When shipping assembled machinery, consider using custom crates rather than pallets

  2. Double-down on service options that encourage timely delivery

    Manufacturing any type of product typically involves several different parties who tackle specific steps during fabrication, from start to finished product. If anything goes wrong logistically during that process, it can disrupt the entire supply chain and lead to more shipping challenges. It’s crucial that your business is utilizing shipping providers and services that prioritize timely, expedient delivery. 

    Both FedEx and UPS offer different service levels depending on the urgency of your parcel shipment. If you’re in a crunch, FedEx can help make a speedy delivery with options like FedEx Priority Overnight® or FedEx 2Day A.M®. UPS also offers expedited services, such as UPS Express Critical® and UPS Next Day Air®. 

    If you have a true freight emergency, take a look at estimated transit times between carriers and their services. It’s probably not the time to use low-cost or asset-light carriers, as they typically have longer transit times. Many LTL freight carriers offer time critical, expedited, and guaranteed options. Just-in-time delivery options can also ensure your shipments are delivered as soon as possible. Because these services often use dedicated trucks or air/ground solutions to maximize efficiency, they can be pricey. Be mindful of your budget, and stay on top of any emergencies when you can. If expedited services are necessary, make sure you quote with several carriers and explore all options in order to keep costs low.

  3. Confirm your freight class before you ship

    Manufacturing businesses ship diverse products or commodities to any number of delivery locations. Whether your business is in the field of precision medical equipment, mold builders, automotive engineering, or any other specialty field, a major manufacturing shipping challenge is being an expert on your products’ specific freight class and NMFC codes.

    The challenge with not knowing these codes can affect everything from your total freight cost to the result of any claims filed. A common mistake many shippers make is using an outdated or blanket NMFC or class code. For example, the ‘machinery’ group NMFC code is 11400. There are over fifty major categories that specify exactly what type of machinery, and they range anywhere from class 55 to 500. That’s hundreds of dollars difference in a final bill. The class for your specific shipment is determined not only by the product itself, but also density, dimensions and weight, packaging type, whether it’s assembled or in parts, and other factors. On top of that, these designations and codes are updated regularly. If you haven’t shipped this product very recently, you need to check it again, especially if any packaging specs have changed.

    In the event that you enter the incorrect class code on your BOL, your freight will likely be flagged by the carrier. This will lead to an inspection, and some additional fees that are going to both inflate your bill and delay your delivery. Because freight class can be complicated, especially for manufacturers, it’s important to have more than a basic understanding of how LTL freight rates are determined. If you have any trouble finding the most accurate class code for your shipment, and you probably will, don’t hesitate to call the carrier or work with a freight broker who can help you.

  4. Make sure the value of your load is covered 

    Damage is a huge concern, especially based on the types of products being shipped. Freight shipping involves tons of handling and frequent stops at terminals. As a result, it’s probably not a matter of if, but when, you’ll get hit with damages. We don’t want to jinx your shipment, but let’s explore the event that your load encounters some damages or loss while on the road. 

    Freight damage is frustrating from the start because it’s expensive, can hold up the fulfillment of an order, and potentially complicate relationships with your customers. Because many manufacturers’ shipments are extra fragile, hard to maneuver, and worth a lot of money, the problem can be compounded. It’s the shipper’s responsibility to prove the carrier is at fault if damage occurs, and frankly, a freight carrier will do everything they can to avoid responsibility. Even if you do win a claim and receive reimbursement, there are limits to carrier liability coverage and payouts. They may not meet the entire value of your load.

    To avoid extra headaches, make sure that you have your own freight insurance that will fully cover the value of your load. It also does not require that you prove the carrier is at fault for damage or loss, just that the damage occurred. While there is an extra charge for the insurance, it’s usually based on the declared value of your freight, and it is extremely worthwhile should damage occur.

  5. Use a freight provider that offers custom shipping solutions

    There’s not always enough time in the day or people in your shipping department to stay on top of the many manufacturing shipping challenges. Let’s face it, a one-size-fits-all approach is not going to work for an industry that has to constantly reinvent itself and adapt to consumer needs, tech advancements, and other changes. A third-party freight provider can help identify the unique needs of your business, without cutting any corners. 

    Cutting costs is always at the top of the priorities list, and taking a fresh look at your shipping procedures can be a fruitful place to start. A 3PL can help leverage carrier relationships and buying power to acquire better shipping discounts for your business. PartnerShip is connected to many manufacturing and industrial trade associations, like NTMA and PMPA. As a benefit provider to members, PartnerShip helps manufacturing businesses save on shipping costs with competitive rates with carriers who prioritize safety and better shipment handling. 

    Working with a freight provider can take on several of your shipping challenges at once.

    • Conducting carrier audits for better pricing and service. 
    • Managing claims and acting as your advocate, by touching base with carriers and making sure proper documentation is in order.
    • Determining if and when you may need to use expedited freight services, and helping to quote and schedule your day-to-day shipments.
    • Finding special equipment options that will balance cost and safety if you have an extra special load.

Turn your manufacturing shipping challenges into full-scale improvements

There are a lot of shipping obstacles to keep track of, and they can be a burden to navigate. Depending on your business size, your budget, and the time you have available, it’s not always possible to become an expert on your own. PartnerShip has the experience and proficiency to help take on your greatest shipping challenges, so you can get back to business. Download our all-encompassing guide to freight claims to learn more about how you can effectively resolve a top shipping obstacle for manufacturers.  


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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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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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Freight Quote vs. Invoice: Why Don’t They Match?

August 13, 2021 at 9:25 AMJen Deming
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One of the most common questions we get is from customers wondering why the heck their final freight invoice doesn’t match the rate they were originally quoted. It’s a valid concern because once you have that bill, it’s next to impossible to get more money from your customer and you’re going to be eating that cost. Your knee-jerk reaction may be to blame the carrier, but the real reason they are different may sting a bit – it’s usually a shipper error. Before you start pointing fingers, review these common reasons your bill doesn’t match that original quote.

Reason 1: Your product is classed incorrectly 

One of the most common reasons a quote differs from a final bill is because your product is classed incorrectly.  With classification being a huge factor affecting your freight quote, even a small error can impact your price. If you guess or miscalculate, your class may be way off. 

The issue may be that sometimes your product is difficult to fit in a particular NMFC category. Take glass jars for example. This type of product falls under NMFC code 87700. It’s not as simple as that, however. Because glass jars are typically fragile, they are broken down by volume, and depending on that calculation, the class can be anywhere from class 65 to 400. In an average freight shipment, that’s a difference of hundreds of dollars. Make sure you are utilizing ClassIT, and consulting freight experts if you have any questions on class, or how to properly calculate density.

Reason 2: A liftgate service inflated your bill

When checking your freight quote vs. invoice, unexpected extra services are the second most common reason for a mismatch. One example we see time after time is for liftgate service. If you didn’t specify you would need a liftgate when you got your quote, but then your carrier provides the service at pick-up, it will cost you. Additionally, if your customer doesn’t communicate they need one for delivery, that can be added on without your approval or knowledge, surprising you once you get the bill. 

Communication between both parties and ensuring you have the proper equipment can avoid this completely. Make sure you both understand that the added cost of an accessorial may raise your rate, but will help your shipment get where it needs to. Understanding that these types of special trucks equipped with liftgates are not as common, both parties will know they need to be requested on the front-side.

Reason 3: Too much time has passed

First and foremost, it’s important to know that a freight quote is an estimate to begin with.

So many factors can change - for example, fuel costs fluctuate frequently. Additionally, depending on when you are scheduling your shipment, peak periods can cause capacity issues, and this generally results in higher charges.

As a general rule, we like to inform our customers that quotes for standard LTL service are valid for about a week. That window is even tighter when you’re using time-critical services. If you’re wanting an estimate so you know what to bill a customer, build in some room for your final cost, or requote as close to the actual shipment pick-up date as possible.

Reason 4: Your delivery location has changed 

While not quite as common, sometimes a change in delivery address can affect the final cost of your freight. Changes may occur after a load is quoted or may have to be made while the shipment is already in transit. Reasons for this might include a location being closed, or a consignee that isn’t ready to receive the shipment.

LTL freight shipments can be rerouted, but that adjustment will definitely incur costs: distance and fuel will increase if the location is further out. On top of that, special service fees such as a redelivery charge or even location-specific fees like limited access could also be applied. Do your best to requote if any details of your delivery location change. If the change is made at the request of your customer, be sure to communicate that fees will apply. If you want to absorb those charges as a courtesy, be sure to build some room in your customer cost to begin with. Otherwise, make it clear who is responsible for those fees.

Reason 5: The wrong carrier picked up your shipment  

You’d be surprised, but the wrong freight carrier picking up an LTL load happens much more often than you’d think. We’ve seen customers quote a general rate with one carrier and then hand it off to whatever carrier arrives that day just to get it on the road and off the dock.  Your shipping department is likely very busy, but this sort of simple mistake can cost you so much time and money in the long run.

Not every LTL carrier has the same base pricing, and even accessorial costs fluctuate between carriers.

If you quote with one carrier, and hand it off to another, you could be paying much more if that carrier charges more for their services. Even worse, if you have negotiated pricing with one carrier, the incorrect one won’t know to bill using your discounts. Worst case scenario, you may be billed at full-cost. Make sure your warehouse team is aware of what carriers are to move which loads. Creating color coded carrier labels and marking your shipments can help ensure a quick once-over to avoid this drama completely.

Reason 6: You have a paperwork error that affects billing 

When comparing your freight quote to your invoice, also take a look at your paperwork and shipping documents. Billing errors and missing information can create an expensive and exhausting headache.

If you are arranging a shipment, and have special pricing or are using a third-party, make sure an accurate BOL states the correct carrier and “bill-to” party. If you are receiving the load, but responsible for the shipping arrangements, don’t leave it to the shipper to create the BOL. In doing so, you run the risk of an incorrect billing party or other inaccuracies that mean your discounts won’t be applied. Even after the fact, a letter of authorization (LOA) can sometimes fix this by informing a carrier of the correct billing party, but it’s not guaranteed and it definitely delays the process.

Final thoughts 

Don’t freak out if you’re seeing some discrepancies between your freight quote vs. your invoice. While they can be unexpected and troublesome, educating yourself and your customer about what can change your rate can help you make better decisions when planning your LTL load. Strong communication and a plan of action can help mitigate expensive invoice issues. If you have concerns about your freight quote vs. your invoice, PartnerShip can help dodge the guessing, help choose the correct services based on your shipping needs, and side-step costly errors.

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How Small Retailers Can Save on Shipping Without Volume Discounts

August 12, 2021 at 1:42 PMJen Deming

Small businesses have it tough, and the fact that volume shipping discounts aren’t always an option makes shipping expensive. The good news is that small retailers have options to decrease shipping expenses without having to rely on volume discounts. Check out our helpful video to learn how. 




6 Strategies to Side-Step Concealed Damage Claim Drama

July 27, 2021 at 11:55 AMJen Deming
Concealed Damage Claim Blog Image

“Freight claim” is a bad word that no one wants to hear in shipping. Submitting a freight claim and hoping that a carrier will fairly reimburse you for replacements and repairs often feels like a shot in the dark. Concealed damage claims, specifically, can escalate pain points because they’re even more challenging to navigate. Concealed claims include damages not immediately noticeable at delivery, such as loss related to temperature changes in the van or shifting of product in the packaging. The good news is that concealed damage claims don’t have to be a death sentence for your freight. There are six ways that you can set yourself up for a win with your concealed freight claim.

Strategy 1 - Do not turn away the driver

Right out of the gate, if you notice that your shipment is damaged at arrival, it can be tempting to turn away the driver and refuse the load. Many shippers erroneously think that by accepting the freight, you are giving the carrier the “all clear” and therefore responsible for any damages. This is not true — the first step in getting compensation is accepting the load. If you refuse the load, the carrier will have to take the shipment back to a terminal for storage. This is especially important in the case of concealed damages, as it increases risk for even more handling issues that aren’t immediately obvious, as well as potentially racking up some extra fees for storage.

Also important to note, many insurance policies state that the freight must be accepted in order to start the claims process. Accepting the freight ensures you are in control of the situation and the next steps for the shipment, not the carrier. Once the load is accepted, you can start reviewing the shipment for concealed damages and start the claims process.

Strategy 2 - Take your time inspecting the delivery

Freight delivery drivers have many stops to make throughout the day and try their best to adhere to a pretty tight delivery deadline. It’s in their best interest to move along quickly by limiting time spent at each stop. So it’s pretty common to feel a driver may be rushing the delivery process in order to get back on the road.

Even though you may feel hurried by the driver, know that as a consignee, you have the right to take adequate time to properly inspect your shipment. Your first step should be a cursory review of outer packaging such as crates, boxes, and binding materials like shrink wrap and packing tape. Confirm you have the correct load by reviewing address labels. Directive stickers like those indicating fragile shipments or temperature-controlled items should be present to help indicate that it was packaged properly in the first place. 

With the driver present, open palletized boxes and crates, starting with those that have any visible damage. Make sure anyone accepting the delivery knows what to look for on an initial inspection. Afterwards, conduct a secondary, more detailed inspection of all freight in order to find less obvious, concealed damages.

Strategy 3 - Be thorough on the delivery receipt

Upon delivery, a piece of documentation called the delivery receipt will be presented to the consignee to essentially sign off on the shipment. This serves as legal proof that the load arrived “free and clear”, indicating no damages or loss while moving under the responsibility of the carrier. When marking the delivery receipt, it’s critical to note anything that may seem off or potentially damaged in your shipment. Simply adding that the shipment is “pending further review” on the receipt will not protect you, so it’s especially important to act quickly and thoroughly check for damages at the time of delivery. While reviewing alongside the driver, indicate anything like item counts, broken crates, torn packaging, holes, or stains that may indicate mishandling or tampering.

Oftentimes, these notations will result in an exception. Exceptions are notes on a delivery receipt that indicate anything out of the ordinary, but may not lead to a claim. If packaging is damaged but the product inside is intact, you can rest easy knowing that you have your findings on file. That way, if concealed damages are found on secondary review, you have evidence that something was amiss with the delivery from the start. Finally, be sure when signing the delivery receipt that you have the driver confirm and sign as well.

Strategy 4 - Take plenty of pictures 

The first rule of damage claims is especially important for concealed damages — the more evidence you submit, the more you protect yourself against a denied freight claim. To supplement any documentation you may submit for the claim, it is in your best interest to take pictures or video of different points in the load’s progress, starting with the shipper’s packing procedures. That way, you have the proof that the load was handed off in perfect condition when it was tendered to the carrier. 

Photograph the initial inspection and secondary review. Snap pictures throughout the delivery inspection from start to finish, including unopened boxes, visible damage, as well as photos of packed product once opened. If you find damages, make sure you take photos or video of the found damages from every angle, with and without flash or in different lighting scenarios. Backing up documentation with supplemental pictures of the paperwork noting damages is also helpful to have.

Strategy 5 - Act quickly when filing

A common misconception is that carriers automatically start the claims process when notified of any damages. This is a fatal mistake for your concealed damage claim. In general, concealed damage claims typically need to be filed with the carrier within five days. If filed in that time, you have to prove that it didn’t happen at the destination.  

Knowing you have a very strict timeline when filing your freight claim can make an already tense situation harder to handle. If you work with a 3PL broker, you get some extra help in meeting deadlines for filing and setting up a inspection appointment with the carrier. You’ll also get advice on what documentation you need to be set up for success, as well as advice on other strategies you can use to ensure a full payout.

Strategy 6 - Consider freight insurance options

One of the most important concealed damage claim tips you can follow is to seriously consider outside freight insurance options. Carrier liability is limited, and they will do everything within their power to pay the least amount possible for damaged shipments. Payouts are usually determined by product type and class number, which means even if you follow filing procedures to the letter, you may still receive reimbursement that is nowhere near the complete value of your freight.

By using third-party freight insurance, you are covered for the full value of your load, regardless of the commodity or class. You  may have more flexibility on filing times and do not have to prove that the damage was caused by the carrier. If your shipment experiences concealed damages, third-party insurance can help alleviate the escalated stress associated with filing for damages found after delivery.

You should remember...

Concealed damage claims are extra tricky, and most carriers count on you making mistakes during inspections and filing so they can avoid pricey payouts. But, you can win concealed damage claims if you follow some key steps that are extra important in the case of hidden damages. PartnerShip experts have had success winning concealed damage claim payouts, and can help guide your filing process from start-to-finish, better ensuring you are compensated for your damaged freight.


Everything You Need to Know About Freight Claims

The Top 4 Reasons Your Freight Is Late

June 22, 2021 at 4:19 PMJen Deming

Despite the very best of intentions, sometimes your freight delivery may be running a little behind. Though not every contributing factor is within your control, there are some tips you can take to lessen the impact of delay in these common scenarios.

Freight Delay Infographic