Not all business owners have the need to ship with less than truckload (LTL) or full truckload (FTL). Occasionally you’ll have smaller loads and will need a smarter way to ship. For businesses who are shipping packages that weigh less than 150 pounds or simply an envelope the smartest, most efficient method of delivery will be small package shipping.
While shipping may not seem like a necessary expenditure you should treat it like the golden connection to your customers that will allow your business to grow and prosper.
Consider these three, important aspects of small package shipping.
Type (Mode of Transportation) that is Timely
Industry experts refer to different types of shipping as modes of transportation. Both ground and air shipping are two of the most common modes of transportation utilized by small business owners. Air shipping is oftentimes the right option with time sensitive goods, although it may be costlier. Ground shipping is usually a good choice for goods that are not quite as time sensitive as others. These options don’t have to undergo the same checks and procedures as trailers or international freight of larger quantity, making day-to-day business easier.
Speed (Service Level) is in Your Hands
Keeping track of the timeframe in which your package will be delivered is known as the service level. Being aware of your service level is important to maintain a positive reputation with your customers or business partners. UPS, our preferred small package shipping provider, offers eight types of service levels including, but not limited to, same day shipping, two-day shipping, or contractual services. Most service levels like these are standard among different freight and shipping companies.
Your logistics provider should be transparent about the service level you’ll receive on every single shipment. Worldwide Express is one of the largest authorized resellers of express shipping for UPS. Our trusted relationship allows us to provide you with dedicated local customer service, global access (if needed), and reliability.
Being Cost Efficient is Easy
Regardless of the destination, small package shipping will significantly cut the cost of your shipping bills. Successful business owners adhere to strict budgets when it comes to shipping goods—whether that’s across town, the country, or the world. Check with your personal representative at your shipping or logistics company to analyze the way you ship right now, and if that’s the best use of your time and money in the future.
The easiest way to do that is being aware of the cost of your chosen modes of transportation. For example, if the goods you need to ship are not time-sensitive, it’s not necessary to pay for next day air service if three-day ground shipping will suffice. Being aware of the price difference between air and ground options will always help you make smart shipping decisions.
Keep in mind that small package shipping services are similar among most major providers. This option will help you maintain a reliable relationship with your customers while allowing you to focus on driving business forward.]]>
It’s easy for small business owners to get stuck in a shipping or logistics rut. When things are going great and business is booming, the way your company pays to ship products can take a backseat role to more important things. That doesn’t mean you should forget about it completely. Take time to audit your processes and make sure you’re ready to handle anything with some simple reminders.
Here are six shipping tips for small businesses.
Find Your Specialist, Save Your Money
When you work with a major logistics provider you have access to a representative who can help identify a plan to fit your exact needs. Whether you need small package services every day, full truckload services a few times, or something in between, a specialist will be able to identify the exact services and the best costs that will help you enter any market.
Offer Free Shipping Not Discounts
If you are starting a new business don’t fall prey to the idea that one of the only ways to make a sale is offering a discount; consider offering free shipping instead. This small sacrifice on your part will be a perk for customers while still allowing you to make a full-priced sale. While you will have to absorb the cost of shipping, remember that customers are usually willing to wait three to five business days for free shipping.
Prepare for Delays
Occasionally there will be delays you can’t prevent. Establish open lines of communication with your drivers or freight consolidation services representative so that you can stay ahead of any issues. To that end, consider putting together a crisis plan in the event of delays that you can predict, typically related to weather, holidays, security (important when transporting confidential or hazardous material), etc. Being proactive will help immensely if something goes wrong.
Customer Service is Your Friend
Customers call to report problems because issues that seem mundane or routine to you are a big deal to them. Try your best to be patient and empathetic, and you’ll earn their trust, respect, and—hopefully—loyalty. Provide as many details as possible about where shipments are, what delays you’re dealing with, and when freight is expected to arrive. Your shipping provider should be honest with you on delivery deadlines so that you can be honest with your customers.
Know if LTL Will Work
If you have a shipment that weighs at least 150 pounds, consider shipping your products as part of a less than truckload (LTL) shipment. Paying to individually ship that much freight will add up quickly. By joining in on the cost of a trailer with other shippers, your shipping budget will become more flexible. Plenty of logistics providers can help you find a driver with room specifically for your packages.
Reuse Containers and Reduce Your Costs
If you have an ongoing relationship with a customer, consider using investing in reusable cargo. Typically, this type of packaging works well for small business owners who have frequent shipments of consistent volume and have clients who are open to operational changes. You can find an entire checklist plus more information on reusable transport packaging here. If you think you are overpaying for one-time or limited time use packages in an ongoing relationship, reusable packaging could greatly impact, and improve, your bottom line.
Some ideas from this list might seem like common sense, but everyone needs a reminder now and again. If shipping is a large part of your day-to-day business operations, make sure to execute the smartest option possible.]]>
What does 2016 have in store for the trucking industry? It depends on who you ask.
Freight industry experts vary in their forecasts for the upcoming year. Factors such as the economy, corporate capital expenditure budgets, the ongoing driver shortage and weakness in commodity markets have been cited by Transport Topics as strong influencers moving forward, but analysts don’t necessarily agree on the extent to which these and other factors will impact trucking.
“Economic and freight growth typically move at the same pace, and freight growth is likely to slow because the U.S. economic expansion is ‘growing old’ after nearly seven years,” said Noel Perry, a managing partner at freight intelligence firm FTR. “The very strong manufacturing and industrial expansion that we have had in this recovery is slowing.”
“Industrial production dropped about 1 percent so far this year after climbing 4 percent or more in 2014. That strength has sustained freight growth, which has exceeded GDP so far in the current recovery. However, as the economy slows, that trend should reverse itself, based on historic trends of slower freight growth late in recovery periods,” Perry added.
More down the road
Although the trucking industry is widely accepted as an accurate barometer of U.S. economic health, there is some talk of a recession in the freight sector as soon as 2017 ¾ regardless of whether the overall economy is growing or not. But despite a cautious outlook by some for 2016, other experts have a more optimistic view of things to come.
Deutsche Bank transport analyst Robert Salmon recently reported “the operating environment is still in decent shape for next year. The consumer is relatively stable with lower fuel costs and gradually improving employment trends, which should provide a modest bump in delayed peak-season demand.”
Solomon also pointed out that two big drivers of overall truck volume, the housing and automotive industries, continue to see relatively healthy demand.
“Both need trucks to carry heavy freight. The industry belief is that every new home going up creates 10 to 20 truckloads of freight. And in the auto market, it’s not just about finished cars. Truckers also haul a large share of the parts and materials, such as steel, rubber and motors, that go into making them,” he said.
Werner Enterprises chief financial officer John Steele also commented on the outlook for next year at a recent investor conference, saying that 2016 would be “more dependent on the consumer” in an economy that “generally feels OK.”
While he expects a solid freight market, Steele added that it’s difficult to determine trucking’s strength at the present time.
ATA weighs in
By and large, experts within the trucking industry expect the number of truckloads moved by carriers around the country to increase in 2016. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), 81 percent of the total revenue seen in the shipping sector will be the result of activity by trucking companies. Steady increases are expected with revenues swelling by 66 percent by the year 2022.]]>
When preparing a large number of packages, parcels or pallets to be collected for a shipment it’s important to optimize your options. Consider not only how many items you’ll be shipping, but other aspects as well. With a shipment going out that occupies less than a full truckload, you’ll have to factor time into the delivery for multiple stops to be made along the way—but not will full truckload (FTL) shipments.
Part of the beauty of full truckload services is that you can create a contract with services and solutions customized for your needs. You’ll not only get faster delivery service with FTL, but other aspects, like drivers who only move specific types of freight, can be a great advantage.
Consider these 5 Reasons to Love Full Truckload Shipping.
When all your goods fit into one 48- or 53 foot trailer, they aren’t disturbed at any point during transit. Once your shipment is ready to go out, the driver will collect the required paperwork, pack their truck efficiently (for loading and transportation purposes alike) and depart. Your goods won’t be touched again until they’re unloaded at their destination point.
Drivers have specialties
Products of all different types, from clothing to produce to furniture and beyond, are shipped every single day. Because each shipment is so different, it is beneficial for some drivers to become an expert in one niche. Some carriers even specialize in moving hazardous material.
Insurance that Fits You
FTL carriers and drivers are asked to ship a wide variety of items, therefore insurance varies form shipment to shipment. Based on certain federal laws, there are certain types of freight that can and cannot be shipped together; some carriers only move certain types of freight because of the insurance needed to ensure the quality of goods. The reassuring news is that freight carriers of all kinds are legally required to carry a minimum amount of insurance.
Speed of service
While transit times may vary based on the driver’s schedule according to service regulations, FTL shipping can still be quicker than LTL If your truckload only has one scheduled destination the goods will typically arrive faster than a LTL shipment with multiple stops. Because your company will need an entire truck or trucks to itself, lead times can be maximized and things will go out efficiently.
Transportation that’s personal
Whether you’re shipping regionally, nationally or globally, your shipments deserve to be cared for. Create a relationship with a representative from your logistics provider to get personalized shipping information about each market you’d like to enter. By tailoring coverage to fit your needs you can ship with confidence, knowing that your products will be handled with care from start to finish.
In fact, FTL shipping even includes shipments that are too large for LTL but still don’t quite fit a full trailer. if your truckload doesn’t fill an entire 48- or 53-foot trailer, don’t be deterred from shipping full truckload freight. With plenty of options to ensure the quality of your shipment when it is delivered to your consignee, FTL shipping is always a viable option. Create a relationship with your logistics provider and discover the right ways to move your business forward.]]>
You probably know Uber by its ability to seamlessly connect riders to taxi, private car and rideshare drivers through the use of mobile-based applications. Now Uber is heading to the trucking industry, potentially ushering in a new era in the North American freight movement and logistics market.
In addition to reducing the empty miles traveled, growth strategies company Frost & Sullivan suggests that mobile-based freight brokering technology will help lower operating costs, improve fuel efficiency, boost asset utilization and enhance resource productivity. In an industry that sees a yearly average of 20 billion empty miles incurred by trucks, such an evolution could bring the economy huge savings on fuel, congestion, environmental damage and lost man hours. Feeding this evolution are mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets that allow for anytime, anywhere connectivity. In the transportation world, Uber for trucking-type apps will enable people to connect freight to trucks, with spare freight-carrying capacity on an on-demand, ad-hoc, networked basis.
Evolving the way products move
By the year 2025, Frost & Sullivan also forecasts that $26.4 billion of all truck freight movement revenues will be enabled by mobile freight brokering. To get a better idea of how mobile freight brokering works, picture this: a battery maker in San Francisco needs to urgently ship 20 boxes of lithium ion batteries to a manufacturer in Seattle. An Uber-type app for freight transportation can be used to connect the battery maker to a truck that is scheduled to leave the San Franciso area for Seattle. The driver of the truck benefits because he can now get more payload to carry (which otherwise could not have been located on an on-the-fly, ad-hoc basis), gain revenues and reduce his empty miles traveled. The shipper in San Francisco benefits from being able to ship his batteries on an ad-hoc, on-demand basis. The app provider benefits from having created a new business opportunity in the market that helps efficiently connect demand to supply. The customer in Seattle benefits by getting his batteries quickly. And, finally, other motorists and the environment benefit from reduced empty miles (hence congestion) and emissions.
Mobile-based freight brokering makes it possible for shippers to be billed immediately and carriers to be paid immediately. Transactions are executed in a swift and seamless manner, and products get moved to their intended destinations.
Obstacles with using the service
What UberRUSH doesn’t offer is a personal, ongoing relationship between businesses and couriers. Using a 3PL, like Worldwide Express, would be able to provide the customer service UberRUSH wouldn’t be able to. 3PL’s are designed to provide dependable shipping, so you can focus on your business.
Taking advantage of the offerings from a full-service logistics company offers much more flexibility and reliability than a service like UberRUSH. We can help you ship to any address in the U.S., whether you need overnight options or standard shipping. Because we’re one of the largest authorized resellers of express shipping for UPS, you’ll be able to relax once trusted personnel have picked up your shipment. We want your packages to arrive safely at their destination, so we’ve invested in insurance options like Flexible Parcel Insurance through UPS Capital®. In the event of loss or damage, your goods are insured up to retail value.
One of the benefits of shipping with a logistics provider is that whether you’re in an urban, remote or rural area, your packages won’t be forgotten. By working with the right shipping handler, small businesses have the opportunity to look at their own shipment costs and use those savings as a tool to increase sales.
Between non-working days, heavy demands for shipments, weather delays and other challenges, it’s no surprise that the holidays can be an especially hectic time for small and midsize businesses. Seasonal spikes, weather events and unexpected circumstances often cause a ripple effect throughout the supply chain. But with a bit of foresight and strategic planning, there’s no reason the bustling season should hinder your customer service efforts and productivity.
Here are some ways you can organize an efficient and less stressful end-of-year shipping operation for your business.
Plan for challenges. How susceptible is your business to disruptions caused by supplier or manufacturing operations failures, workforce unavailability and technology troubles that can threaten your ability to make customer deliveries? Consider developing some “what-if” scenarios for potential challenges and assess your ability to respond and overcome the events.
Alert your carrier of changes in your own operation. A large increase or decrease in your shipping volume, adjustments in operating hours or a significant volume shift in shipping services, such as from ground to air, could affect your driver’s handling of your pickup. “If you let your driver know ahead of time, we can prepare for your changes,” says Donnie Nunley, package planning manager for UPS®.
Ship early when possible. Plan ahead for varying holiday operating hours and potential weather delays. Although most major shippers make every effort to deliver holiday ground shipments with the same transit times as the rest of the year, there’s no guarantee that ground shipments during the two weeks before Christmas will arrive as usual due to unusually high volume. A good rule of thumb is to allow seven business days for ground shipments during those last two weeks, particularly for long distances. The UPS Time and Cost Calculator can give you a fairly precise indication of how long it will take based on ZIP Codes.
Have packages ready at pickup time. “Our drivers aren’t going home each night until their trucks are empty,” admits Jim Dunn, UPS corporate industrial engineering manager. “So it helps your driver and all the other folks along the route if pickups are ready to go when your driver arrives.”
Package wisely. It always makes good sense to package your shipments to avoid damages en route, but it’s especially important during peak season, when shippers’ processing facilities and delivery vehicles are operating at high capacity. To help ensure your wares are well-prepared for their journey and will arrive at customer sites unharmed, only reuse boxes that are like new. The strength of a carton with a crease or tear can be reduced up to 70 percent. And, remember to “right size” your packaging for the item you are sending. This can save tremendously on shipping costs.
For more shipping strategies to help your small or midsize business stay ahead of potential issues this holiday season, visit Holiday Shipping in 2015. Remember, we’re always here to help you with your shipping logistics and best practices.]]>
As industries that rely on trucking services continue to grow thanks to a booming economy, so too will the gap that exists between the supply and demand for truck drivers. A robust economy and a strong dollar have fueled a higher demand for imported goods that must be transported via the $700 billion U.S. trucking industry.
To move the necessary nine billion tons of domestic freight annually, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates that it takes more than three million truck drivers. But like many industries, the trucking industry is facing the mounting challenge of how to keep up with an increasing need for goods at a time when the delivery workforce is aging. This challenge hits the trucking industry even harder than most, and it’s one that’s helping reshape the industry.
Addressing the challenge
The age of the average truck driver has increased more rapidly than the age of the average worker due to fewer young workers entering the industry. Interstate laws require drivers to be 21 years old — thus eliminating younger candidates while retiring baby boomers are lost. To make matters worse, few women are choosing careers as truck drivers. In fact, only 6 percent of drivers are women at a time when many other industries are hiring females in record numbers. The shortage of truck drivers has grown to nearly 48,000 and could expand further through at least the year 2020 due to the combination of industry growth and the retiring workforce, according to the American Trucking Associations’ Truck Driver Shortage Analysis for 2015.
“The ability to find enough qualified drivers is one of our industry’s biggest challenges,” said ATA president and CEO Bill Graves.
Graves and the ATA believe that the trucking industry will need to hire an average of 89,000 drivers per year over the next decade to keep the nation’s freight moving. To combat the driver shortage, trucking companies are having to increase driver salaries. Average pay for long-haul truckers has jumped 17 percent since the end of 2013, up 12 percent over the past year alone to a record average of $57,000, according to the National Transportation Institute. The spike in pay comes as U.S. employment costs overall are up just 2 percent and average weekly earnings are rising only 2.2 percent.
Solutions to keep the industry moving
Economic analysts believe that driver pay will continue to rise as long as the driver shortage continues. To address the shortage along with the preconception that exists of a truck driver’s lifestyle being a difficult and unconventional one, the ATA has proposed the following solutions:
“Make no mistake, the driver shortage is a challenge, but it is not an insurmountable one,” concluded ATA chief economist Bob Costello.]]>
Got a shipment large enough to fill up a semi-trailer? Or, maybe you prefer a dedicated truck for your partial load? Either way, you’re not alone. The Journal of Commerce reports that Full Truckload (FTL) shipping accounts for 56 percent of the annual domestic freight market alone. With so many large shipments being transported from point A to point B, how do you ensure that your bulk products are handled properly from start to finish?
Here are some tips and insights to help you make the most of your large-volume shipping experience, whether it’s something you do regionally or across the country, on occasion or as a regular part of your business.
FTL at a glance
When you’re doing large shipments that generally weigh over 150 pounds, it makes sense to consider your bulk shipping options. If your shipment is in the neighborhood of 10,000 pounds or more and is too heavy, fragile or high-risk for a less than truckload (LTL) service, think Full Truckload shipping. An advantage FTL carriers have over LTL carriers is that the freight is never handled en route. Once it’s loaded on the semi-trailer or in the intermodal container, your cargo is not moved until it reaches its final destination. The truck filled with your goods is transported directly from you to a single customer, whereas LTL shipments may be unloaded and reloaded as necessary to accommodate more than one shipper’s freight at different locations. For this reason, FTL shipments can often reach customers more quickly, safely and efficiently. It’s standard practice for Full Truckload drivers to transport freight at an average rate of 47 miles per hour, so when time matters choose FTL.
Labeling en masse
Now that you’ve made the decision to use a Full Truckload service for your large shipment, you need to ensure each container in your multi-unit order is correctly labeled. Printing multiple copies of the same shipping label for a multi-unit order, even if it will be the only shipment on the truck, can cause you to run into some problems in the long run. If you have 20 packages or pallets all with the same shipping label, you’re only going to be able to track one because all 20 packages/pallets are using the same tracking number. If one of those units gets lost or damaged on the customer’s premises, there’s really no way to trace that it even exists or where it might be. If you have a shipment that requires multiple units, you can usually print a series of shipping labels for the order that will mark them as different packages but the same shipping order.
Know your load
The size of your shipment, your shipping budget, how fast you need it delivered and how delicate your shipment is are all important factors to consider when selecting how to ship. If the shipment is large, fragile and it needs to reach a destination quickly, then FTL is the way to go. Transportation companies can give you fast and accurate quotes to help in your decision making ¾ as long as you have your wants, needs and product specs well-defined.
The challenges of running a small or midsize business can be exhilarating. They can also keep you up at night. Ensuring orders get to your customers, and their customers, quickly is one of the critical tasks you must manage in today’s competitive and fast-paced economy. Whether you’re shipping parcels or pallets, it’s all about streamlining operations and keeping your costs in check. How you ship can have a direct impact on your bottom line. Providing an efficient shipping experience is important for turning one-time customers into repeat clients.
But how can you be sure you’re getting the best shipping services for you and your customers? Fortunately there are great resources available to help you as a small or midsize business owner understand your options, conserve cash and navigate shipping regulations. That way, you can concentrate on what matters most: growing your business.
Here are some tips to help you keep your business wheels in motion without the need to focus solely on moving your goods from point A to point B.
Remove the guesswork
One of the biggest issues business owners face is guessing the size, weight and shipping costs of their goods. This is especially true when you are not actually doing the shipping yourself, but are relying on someone else to get a last-minute order into the hands of your customer. The result is that businesses often over-pay the cost of shipping just to ensure it gets to its destination on time. The only real way to remove the guesswork is to compare costs and research all possible shipping methods appropriate to your business needs, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Do your due diligence
Most major shipping organizations provide easy-to-use online tools to help you assess your shipping options based on business size, industry and whether your goods need to ship domestically or internationally, or both. The various shipping organizations also offer consultations with specialists who are available to small or midsize business owners to ensure your business requirements are appropriately met.
If you regularly ship in bulk, explore the options associated with freight transportation. If you can’t fill a truckload, consider Less Than Truckload to transport shipments typically ranging from 100 pounds to 20,000 pounds. If the costs are too high for your business, inquire about consolidating your freight with shiploads from other businesses to cut costs.
Use shipping to speed up cash flow
“The quicker you can confirm delivery, the faster you can bill your customers,” suggests Beth Matthews, small business marketing manager for UPS®. Choose a transportation partner that offers easily-accessible notification tools.
Communicate your shipping policies
A critical step to ensuring the ongoing cost efficiency of your shipping operations is to set up and communicate shipping policies internally. This way everyone in the organization is clear on which shipping method to use and when. Likewise, be sure to let your customers know what your standard shipping policies are so that you are prepared to handle the unexpected.
While you showcase your product and penetrate new markets, your shipping partner should be there to take care of the heavy lifting.]]>
Suppliers be aware: The holidays are coming! With shopping events like Cyber Monday and impending weather issues in the near future, it’s time to review best practices to help your small or midsize business stay ahead of any potential issues.
Crisis Teams No business owner wants their customer to have issues receiving a shipment, but smart business owners prepare for a crisis ahead of time. As we wrote earlier this year, it’s important to choose a team of managers who will make decisions during a crisis. Choose your team early and provide them all with proper crisis plans and training programs.
Shopping Events With the advent of shopping “holidays” like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s important to have a shipping strategy in place. Will you send out packages on a rolling basis or wait until you have enough items for a full truckload? Create a detailed list of items available for shipping and their normal shipping costs. Proactive planning will help you avoid a backup of shipments on days when orders will pour in.
Shipping Deadlines The USPS recently announced it’s own shipping deadlines for the 2015 holiday season. Follow suit and create your own national and international deadlines. Promote them on your website and social media accounts to ensure that customers see the news, and encourage representatives to communicate these deadlines with clients via email.
Holiday Bonuses The holiday season is a time when giving feels good. If your budget allows, provide holiday specials or discounts to loyal customers. Monitor competitors so your products and services will arrive in a timely manner. Some major retailers like Amazon and Walmart are expediting their shipping processes with standard two-day delivery. While two-day shipping isn’t possible for every company, there might be some wiggle room in your own budget.
Inclement Weather In certain parts of North America the weather can be difficult to deal with during the holidays. If customer deliveries are headed to areas where ice or snow are common, plan on making multiple delivery methods available. In areas where air and land deliveries could become problematic, communicate with your customers to create effective backup plans so that no one’s holiday is ruined by a missed delivery.
With a solid shipping plan in place before the holiday rush, your customers will receive their products with no issues. And if weather issues out of your control threaten deliveries, you’ll be prepared. As always, remember that you’ll receive best-in-class shipping options with our streamlined services.]]>