Today, businesses ship more products than ever with the rise in customer shipping demands and e-commerce growth. As companies are aligning themselves with new shipping partners to match these changes, it’s essential to answer: Which shipping carrier is best for my business?
In most cases, FedEx and UPS have the shipping market locked up with parcel. The same holds for LTL (less-than-truckload) with carriers such as SAIA, XPO, and Old Dominion.
For example, in Parcel, UPS serves as the ground network and now has a massive presence worldwide, providing virtually all forms of transportation. On the contrary, FedEx was founded for overnight shipping but has similar transit times across the same modes of transportation.
Understanding Your Shipping Carrier
Every company has a distinct shipping profile, much like a fingerprint. This fingerprint is the key to building a strategy that improves your bottom line. However, this isn’t very easy. Agreements from carriers are often complex and convoluted. Therefore, finding expert knowledge in this field can significantly affect your final shipping strategy.
Not surprisingly, your goal should be to understand your carrier options and outline the best strategy for your future. At FreightWise, we know your business often depends on getting this right, and we’ve outlined some quick tips to help you select.
8 Tips for Choosing Shipping Carriers
#1. Track Shipping
Over 90 percent of customers like to track their shipments. According to the same research, nearly 20 percent of Americans check their package monitoring more than once per day. As a result, businesses choose shipping carriers that offer live tracking services.
These tracking services show detailed stats, including the packages’ location, delivery times, and any delays that pop up along the way. But it’s not just businesses who benefit. Customers, too, enjoy the information provided. They get their products on time, know what to expect for their deliveries, and can even reach out to your customer service team before shipping problems become catastrophes.
A transparent supply chain benefits any business that ships products.
Before you decide on a shipping carrier, take stock of their reliability as a company. To do this, look at their service rates, also called their Level Of Service (LOS) rates. If those rates are high, the carrier provides reliable client service.
You’ll need a dependable shipping service to keep your customers around. Also, it’s a good idea to save wiggle room in your budget for businesses with higher LOS rates because you’ll save money in the long run over dissatisfied clients.
Do you need international freight forwarding or an express carrier for global shipments? If so, that’s another factor to keep in mind. Any online business that sells products worldwide should consider whether or not the company offers international shipments. When you hire a shipping company, check their destination list.
#4. Prices & Service
And what about costs and customer service? These two features are critical to your business.
It’s not surprising that you might want to choose the cheapest carrier, but the problem is it could cost you big time. For example, if you hire a shipping carrier with poor or slow service, you could end up with some upset clients. You could also deal with lost or damaged shipments that could ruin your business once the item arrives at your customer’s home. So, as you select a shipping carrier, consider the overall costs and the service quality provided.
Trusting your shipping carrier with thousands of dollars worth of products is a big deal. And if you don’t know their safety approach, you could be doing yourself and your customers a grave disservice. To find out what your carrier safety rating is, head on over to the SAFER website. Any carrier with an active US DOT number will have its safety rating on this website.
In the meantime, consider our safety checklist below and compare how your carrier stacks up:
- Legal supply operations
- Up-to-date insurance & log-keeping practices
- Exemplary safety rating & accreditation
- Proper protocols for accident prevention
- Accountability strategy
Another element that customers and businesses typically think about is environmental sustainability. Shipping carriers must demonstrate their eco-friendliness to clients. Part of the reason this is so important is that customers are willing to pay more to buy products from companies that have sustainable practices. These organizations prioritize sustainability at every step of the supply chain. Interestingly, many companies have adopted sustainability as their standard instead of a trend. So, it makes sense to choose a shipping carrier that follows traditional practices for reducing their carbon footprint, etc.
Build your supply chain with businesses that share your values to create a brand your customers will love.
#7. Types of Products You're Shipping
The products you’re shipping also affect your decision. For example, suppose you’re shipping heavy workout equipment. In that case, you need a shipping carrier with the expertise and experience to send the item to your customers safely.
Alternatively, if you’re shipping dangerous products containing high-powered batteries etc., you’ll need a carrier that understands the product’s regulations. Again, research and determine if the carrier has the infrastructure to support your shipping needs.
Our final tip is to think about how the shipping carrier you choose can integrate your logistics process. Software and logistics procedures must integrate with your internal processes for a seamless experience. Shipping carriers that use tracking systems should also be able to integrate with your inventory software to reduce your workload. How you ship, what you ship, and where you ship should also be factored into the logistical process associated with your shipping carrier.
Shipping Carrier Final Thoughts
Are you reviewing shipping carriers? We hope that our brief list guides you in the right direction whether you’re searching for an express carrier, more flexible LTL providers, looking for international freight forwarding, or something else.
Freightwise has been helping companies transform their transportation supply chain design for years, saving clients time and up to 20% or more on shipping spend with the right carrier mix.
What to learn more? Request an analysis of your shipping today and see how you can ship more intelligently.