Choose the Right Shipping Carrier: 5 Steps to Success
If you're new to shipping, chances are you've asked yourself this: How do I decide which carrier to use? It's not a question to take lightly. There's a huge range of options to choose from (more than a half million trucking companies in the U.S. alone!), and your decision will make a serious impact — both on your day-to-day operations and on your profit margins
These five steps can help you make the right choice.
Step #1: Consider your needs
The idea here is to connect your needs to a prospective shipping partner's services. Think about the type shipping you'll do. And then ask yourself questions such as:
- Will you ship parcels or freight?
- Will you ship perishable goods or other items that need temperature-controlled environments?
- Will you ship items domestically? Internationally? Both?
- How often will you ship? Every day? Three to four times per week?
- Will you primarily ship to businesses or residential addresses?
Step #2: Link your shipping needs to a prospective carrier's services
Once you've outlined your needs, take a look at the services a potential carrier provides and assess how well they match your needs. Here's another point to consider: Can a single company handle all of your needs, or will you need to work with multiple partners?
If you'll need more than one service, you might need to work with several different companies. And that will almost certainly take up more of your time, and possibly add to your costs. That's one area where a third-party logistics (3PL) provider can help you out. The best 3PLs combine a comprehensive knowledge of logistics and relationships with a wide range of carriers. Upshot: They can work with you to zero-in on a single carrier — or use their network to find you an ideal solution on a case-by-case basis.
Step #3: Consider scalability
Maybe your shipping needs are small right now, but you can see them expanding within the next few years. If so, you'll want to find a carrier that can scale with you. One challenge: Searching for and deciding on the right shipping company can be a time-consuming process. This is another area where a good 3PL can step in. If it has an extensive network, it can help link you up with carriers that will meet your needs — whether you need to scale up or temporarily pull back.
Step #4: Take stock of technology
Practically every carrier uses some sort of tracking technology tools these days. But you'll want to probe a little deeper to uncover what other sorts of shipping software a company uses. One tool to ask about is a transportation management system (TMS), which is a robust platform that can provide optics and single-system control over your entire supply chain. The best TMS systems also integrate with e-commerce platforms, allow you to add special services and shipment protection on the fly, schedule pickups, get alerts if delays happen and much more.
Step #5: Factor in reliability
If you're just starting out, it might be tempting to make cost one of your top selection criteria. But cost shouldn't be the only factor. Consider this: You put your company's brand on the line every time you ship something. If the shipment doesn't arrive on time and/or if it's not good condition, your reputation can take a hit. A reliable carrier can help you meet customer expectations and enhance your brand, and that can only help you expand your business. But here's one challenge with that: How can you find a reliable carrier when there are hundreds to choose from? That's another area where a 3PL with a broad carrier network can be a valuable ally. It'll know each carrier and be able to find one that works for your needs.
Looking for shipping help? Look to Worldwide Express.
We know shipping. And we understand your business has unique shipping needs. So we'll the take the time to understand them and tap our unrivaled carrier network to create solutions to help you meet your goals and boost your bottom line.