Through the use of modern logistics, it is possible to ship virtually any product of any size. Furniture is one of the products whose shipping modalities have significantly evolved. Many respected retailers and manufacturers have built their reputation based on their ability to deliver high-quality furniture to consumers at the right time and to the right specifications.
One of the areas of concern is the integrity of the product during the shipping process. Specifically, you need to minimize damage and loss. This article explores some of the tips that you can use to effectively ship furniture.
Shipping Furniture for e-commerce companies
The question remains as to how e-commerce companies can effectively ship furniture. One of the key considerations will be the weight and dimensions of that furniture. Heavy and bulky furniture is likely to cost more in terms of logistics than light and compact furniture.
Product dimensions determine the policy that couriers have about a particular product. For example, UPS and FedEx have a policy of accepting packages that weigh as much as 150lbs. In doing so, they specify that the longest side of any box cannot exceed 9 feet or 108 inches. Ultimately, the combined length and girth for any package should not exceed 130 inches if you are using FedEx and 165 inches if you are using UPS.
There are other specifications that you will have to consider. For example, USPS can ship boxes that are as long as 108 inches, as long as the combined length and girth do not exceed 130 inches. By way of contrast, the USPS Retail Ground service has set a weight maximum of 70lbs.
There may be exceptions and allowances depending on the contract that you have. For example, it is possible to ship lighter and smaller items through regular services ground shipping for all the major players including USPS, UPS, and FedEx. Some providers such as UPS and FedEx now offer overnight shipping which is convenient for those customers that are in a hurry.
How furniture is packed and transported may vary, depending on the contract and the provider. For example, regular carrier services may be offered for small pieces of furniture such as tables and lamps. At other times, you may have to flat-pack unassembled furniture to ship it. In this way, you can get around the bulkiness limits set by the provider.
Nevertheless, the weight limit is often set in stone. If you are shipping larger pieces of furniture, it may be worth your while to consider freight shipping. It is important to remember that many providers of this service now have arrangements that allow smaller shipments to be combined. That means you can request this service even if you are not shipping a large quantity of furniture.
Shipping Furniture LTL
Freight shipping has been divided into two broad categories of services. One of those services that are geared for the modern business is less-than-truckload (LTL) freight shipping. The second is full truckload (FTL) freight shipping. Using LTL allows you to ship pallets as well as packages that would otherwise be considered to be too bulky or weighty for standard shipping. This is why LTL is often used to ship furniture items such as recliners, sofa sets, dining sets, and bathroom sets.
The disadvantage of LTL shipping is that it takes a bit longer than regular shipping. Moreover, deliveries will likely be transferred between trucks as they make their way to their final destination. By contrast, FTL is based on point-by-point destination planning without stops. This means that FTL is inherently faster than LTL. Where FTL is still not a suitable option, expedited LTL shipping may be your best choice.
Those that want very fast delivery can consider air freight. The disadvantage with that option is that it will be more expensive. However, the good news is that LTL is now much easier to use than in previous years. It is advisable to start with the carriers that you already have accounts with and then build up your partnership base from there. Research shows that there are significant discounts that are available for account holders when they wish to use LTL.
The Cost of Shipping Furniture
Some people that are new to shipping will often wonder what the actual cost of shipping furniture is going to be. There are several factors that you should be aware of when trying to moderate your freight rates. These include:
- The freight class: The density of the package in terms of weight versus volume will be used to determine your freight class. They will also consider the item that you are shipping and its characteristics. Some providers (e.g., FedEx) will give you access to an LTL freight classification tool so that you can predetermine what your costs will be like.
- The provider: Different providers have different requirements and offers. For example, UPS can handle air freight, FTL, and LTL simultaneously.
- The geographical spread: There are different terms for shipping depending on whether you are shipping domestic or international. For example, UPS additionally offers guaranteed morning and urgent services for LTL shipping.
- Booking modality: Some service providers will consider reducing costs if you book early and book online. There may also be discount coupons that you can use to reduce your costs.
How to Pack Furniture
Many businesses get into logistical problems because they just do not know how to pack furniture properly. This is particularly true if you are dealing with heavy or bulky pieces of furniture. You need to ensure that you do not damage the furniture during packing and that it is not damaged during transit. The best furniture packers can use the smallest box possible to avoid additional dimensional weight (DIM) costs.
The carriers or logistics companies will use DIM weight to factor the size of the package into the final quotation that they give you. Any excess when DIM weight is removed from actual weight will attract a fee. Although this will not affect you if you are sending flat-packed items, it has the potential of being costly when sending lighter items such as chairs and lamps.
There are some generic tips that you can follow when packing furniture:
- Try to use heavyweight boxes to protect the heavier items
- Try to disassemble and flat-pack your furniture as much as possible
- Remove detachable items such as legs and arms
- Use protective plastic film to wrap around the furniture to avoid scratches and stains
- Use additional protective material such as cardboard or Styrofoam to protect corners
- Try to use sturdy infill including Styrofoam and molded cardboard
- Reinforce very heavy boxes with straps on the outside
- Provide unpacking instructions and the bill of lading
Moreover, you always have the option of working with third-party logistics (3PLs) service providers who will have significant experience in handling furniture.
Shipping furniture can be relatively easy and affordable if you know what you’re doing. This article has highlighted some key considerations including the size, weight, and bulkiness of your furniture. We have seen that flat-packing furniture pieces and carefully sealing them will reduce costs and damages in transit. If you follow the simple tips in this article, there is no reason why you cannot ship furniture efficiently and safely.