Shipping Practices for Navigating the Pandemic
The eight shipping best practices described below relate to anyone shipping. Every paper has their own shipping strategy for getting their freight picked up and delivered at a price that works for them, and with the level of service they need. The COVID-19 pandemic is making shippers reevaluate and adjust their shipping strategies, modifying them where necessary.
At this current time, there are only three things that we, in the shipping industry, know for sure about the COVID-19 pandemic:
No one can control when it will end.
At every port and distribution center, on every road, and at every turn, the men and women of the shipping industry are doing everything in their power to get important items like emergency medical supplies, eCommerce orders, and shelf-re-stocking goods (including toilet paper) delivered as quickly as possible.
Some shippers may have to adjust their strategies by implementing new or augmented shipping practices that will help them navigate the pandemic and come out on the other side in good shape (from a shipping perspective) once the economy has returned to “normal.”
We recommend that you give special attention to the following eight shipping best practices:
Shippers need to control or reduce costs as much as possible. Here are two ways that will help you do that:
Check prices of several carriers. Some carriers are extremely busy right now with store restocking, emergency supplies, and eCommerce orders. Carriers with a limited capacity will have higher rates than others. Look for high-quality carriers that still have enough capacity to offer competitive rates.
Consolidate your shipments whenever possible. Are you making less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments to the same recipient several times a month? Reducing the number of shipments you send and packing more cargo with each can save money for the shipper. If the recipient can accommodate the cargo, instead of receiving on an “as needed” basis,” there is likely a carrier that is willing to offer you a lower rate overall.
Businesses could be cutting personnel and changing hours in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. In some regions, businesses may have to close by a certain time of day. Make sure there is someone at the other end to receive your shipment when it is complete. As scheduling has changed since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic, hours of operation have changed as well. Shift changes and miscommunication may occur between workers on the receiving party. Communicate with the receiving party to ensure your delivery is complete.
No one likes to assume the worst, but these days it’s not impossible for a shipment to be delayed so emergency cargo can be shipped first. If the cargo is time sensitive, you could be out of luck. More problems could pop up, but you get the picture. Many things are uncertain, and carrier liability doesn’t come close to covering the replacement cost of valuable cargo. So, buy freight insurance and have peace of mind.
Schedule your order early and leave enough wiggle room in your schedule for delivery to be a day or two later than quoted. For example, if you would normally order a shipment on Monday for a Tuesday pickup and a delivery the following Monday, do the following instead:
Place the order the Wednesday before your usual Monday order day.
Schedule pickup for Monday, realizing it might not happen until Wednesday or Thursday.
Notify your recipient that the order will arrive sometime between Tuesday and Friday.
More than ever it is critical that you communicate and collaborate with your recipient.
Send the recipient photos of your packaged shipment before it is picked up, so they can see quickly if there has been any damage during shipment. Preparing the recipient ahead of time is especially important now since social distancing dictates that recipients not be asked to sign the Proof of Delivery. They need to be able to identify and report any damage they see right away.
Remind recipients that no deliveries, even for white glove shipments, will be made inside the building and that deliveries may take an extra day or two.
To make sure deliveries aren’t missed, consider adding a Call for Appointment notification service. The extra charge for this accessorial could help your recipient better plan their schedules.
If your full truckload (TL) or partial truckload (PTL) shipment qualifies as emergency relief for the novel coronavirus pandemic, notify your carrier when placing your order. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of the Department of Transportation has issued a relief order for Hours of Service regulations that limit how long drivers can stay on the road. Also, many states have waived or amended restrictions for emergency shipments. Make sure your emergency shipment receives the special handling it deserves.
Take the time to review all of your billing processes, especially those that are not automated, to reduce the lag time between shipment and billing. This is particularly important if your company has had any personnel changes due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Track workflows and make sure there are no gaps in the shipment>invoice>collection process. Every revenue dollar is more critical than ever. Make sure you get paid on time.
Building a strong relationship with the right Third Party Logistics (3PL) provider will help provide stability, flexibility, and additional options to help you get through the pandemic.
The right 3PL will:
Serve as a partner and make sure you’re getting the right deal for you — one that provides everything you need at a fair price — by listening to your needs and using sophisticated freight-matching technology.
Help you avoid the steep rate hikes and falls through their relationships with many highly-regarded LTL, TL, and PTL carriers.
Take care of the communication with the carrier handling your shipment, including (if applicable) making sure they know your shipment qualifies as an emergency shipment, ordering a Call for an Appointment up front, and notifying them of any special circumstances they may face at delivery. Communicating with carriers is very limited right now. This is a huge benefit of partnering with a 3PL.
Help you find reliable freight insurance coverage.
Assist with other logistics concerns, such as warehousing.
Become your virtual shipping department.
An Independent 3PL
These are the things FreightCenter has been doing for more than 20 years. We know that if you choose us to be your 3PL, you will soon see the advantages of working with a well-respected shipping partner. We combine the benefits of TMS technology with the superior on-phone service of our in-house shipping experts.
But before you choose any 3PL as your partner, we recommend that you review these 10 ways to measure their effectiveness.
With our extensive, fully vetted carriers, we’ve got your shipping covered. Most FreightCenter customers probably didn’t even know that the freight-shipping market was going through such a turbulent time. That is because we always make shipping easy and affordable. Start with us by getting a free freight quote or talk with one of our National Account Managers (shipping experts) at 800.716.7608.
We provide competitive freight shipping prices and an all-inclusive, easy-to-use shipping experience for our customers. Exceeding our customers’ expectations results in thousands of satisfied customer reviews and repeat business. We believe in the power of our customer relationships. Check out FreightCenter reviews from real customers, and learn what they have to say about their freight shipping experience!