As a retailer, you must keep your logistics strategy refined at all times and using a checklist for LTL shipping can help you do just that. This type of shipping is best for retailers who want to send shipments out regularly but don’t have enough product to fill an entire trailer. smaller-sized retailers benefit the most from using LTL shipping by sharing not only the space but the cost with similar retailers.
Whether you are new to LTL shipping or you have dabbled a bit over the years, this type of shipment allows you to reduce your costs, increase the security of your product with multiple checkpoints, and track your shipment in real-time so that you and your customers know where your products are at any given time. If you are interested in using LTL shipping, follow this retailers checklist:
1. Figure out what LTL services you need
First and foremost, you need to figure out what services you need. This means you have to know your freight. The characteristics of whatever product you are shipping will largely impact the cost you pay because the characteristics directly influence the equipment needed for shipments. The process for shipping car parts is going to be different in terms of the necessary equipment compared to shipping frozen fish.
Certain shipments will need specific trailers so you need to know what specifications are required for your business. If you are shipping frozen fish, as mentioned, you will need a refrigerated trailer to make sure that the temperature-sensitive fish remains frozen. If on the other hand, you are shipping car parts, a flatbed would be just fine because your shipment does not require an enclosed, dry van. Knowing the equipment you require and the size of your shipment will help you to refine your list of carriers to those which have precisely what you need.
Concurrently you need to figure out what equipment will be necessary once your shipment makes its final destination. Some carriers offer specific services like inside pick up if you can plan ahead of time. You would need to know things like the dimensions of your shipment to help determine the best way to package it so that it can be not only shipped to its final destination but transported from that destination. If your shipment is not properly packaged it might take up unnecessary space or potentially damage the other shipments.
2. Work with the right partners
Working with the right partners is the very first step. Finding the right partners is done by narrowing down the field of carriers and service providers to those which offer the shipping equipment you need for your particular product. You also have to keep in mind that your carriers are not the people who have to personally work with your customer. That job is still yours which means if your customers aren’t happy because of a carrier it’s still your problem to fix. You need an LTL shipping partner that you can rely on to care about your product and on-time delivery with the same passion you do. Logistics partners need to help you, as a retailer, manage the shipping process. You should partner with an organization that gives you quotes, offers support for tracking, optimization, and has access to a large network of reliable carrier services so that you can improve your delivery time and execute your business strategy.
3. On-time delivery is critical
On-time delivery is critical with LTL shipping. Shipments must be delivered on tight deadlines. Retailers provide faster delivery options to keep up with customer demand which means that more carriers are investing in urban fulfillment centers strategically built as closely as possible to metropolitan areas so that faster delivery options can be provided to customers. Remember that with LTL shipping your load is not the only shipment on the trailer which means that delays on your end, or inconsistent communication, can not only damage the professional relationship you have with your customers but the relationships that other businesses have with their customers as well. You need to stick to the delivery date that you provide to your customers and that means making sure your LTL carrier can meet that demand, and that you hold up your end of that deal.
4. Focus on the last mile
With LTL shipping you need to focus on the last mile. Last-mile delivery is a phrase that refers to the shipment of your products from its fulfillment center to its final destination which in this case refers to your customers. This part of the transportation process is where things typically go wrong and where the majority of costs are incurred. By utilizing last-mile delivery with the carriers you have selected for your LTL shipments you can provide customers with more delivery options that best fit their schedule. You can even have your customers select a delivery time that they prefer within a given window. You can offer ship to store solutions where your goods are shipped directly to local stores that allow customers to pick up the shipment from that store whenever it’s convenient. This takes away the burden of delivering to multiple customers across multiple locations. This method delivers many orders at once to the same location which gives your customers the peace of mind that they can pick their items up whenever they have time and it also alleviates some of the costs for you.
Overall as a retailer, your margins might be razor-thin which is why you need to make sure you partner with an LTL shipping service and carrier that will help you improve your customer satisfaction, not detract from it. A single shipment can make or break your long-term relationships so you have to establish a strategy that helps you to build and nurture customer loyalty.