Being a first-time shipper can be overwhelming, so it’s best to fish out the best shipping tips when booking that first shipment. There are many moving parts to the process, and getting one thing wrong, or forgetting one step, can be costly. So follow these top freight shipping tips for first-time shippers. We can guarantee they will help you avoid common, costly mistakes.
Top Shipping Tips:
#1: Packaging Comes First
Packaging freight may seem cut and dry, but it’s arguably the most crucial part of the shipping process for first-time shippers. Especially if you’re shipping LTL freight, your cargo will share the back of a freight truck with other shippers’ freight and could move back and forth between multiple carriers and trucks. So, you’ll want to make sure to package your freight correctly.
Get to know the different kinds of packaging materials available to you. Of course, the exterior packaging materials are more well-known, such as shrink wrap, cardboard boxes, etc. But internal materials like bubble wrap or packing peanuts keep your cargo safe during transit.
Shipping a pallet will be commonplace in the freight world. Learn more about standard pallet sizes and weights so you know what best fits the needs of the cargo you’re shipping.
Download our free Guide to Freight Packaging for a more comprehensive look into freight packaging materials and best practices. Read more about shipping special items.
#2: Transit Times are Estimates
This is a big one. Most first-time shippers think that delivery times will always occur when requested. This isn’t the case. Carriers provide transit and delivery estimates based on the shipment date. Many factors can change your estimated freight transit time regarding LTL freight shipping.
Think of LTL as carpooling for freight, where your cargo will be sharing space with other shippers’ cargo on the truck. Sometimes loads before yours get held up for various reasons, leading to delayed shipment transit time. Understanding some of the most common reasons your LTL freight transit time estimate might increase keeps your supply chain running smoothly. You can plan for this by adding extra time to ensure your delivery schedule succeeds.
#3: Market Conditions
Even for the most experienced shippers, the current market conditions have been challenging for a very long time. With supply chain shortages, demand surging, and changing consumer behaviors, understanding how the freight and logistics market operates a must for first-time shippers.
Beneath all these surprising trends, there is a solid formula for how the freight market traditionally works year-round that will never change. These are known as the four seasons of freight. Many industries see larger-scale busy seasons than others at specific points of the year. Businesses could be active simultaneously or struggle to do business at other times. Knowing these seasonal changes throughout the year helps you stay ahead of the game and prepare for managing customer expectations.
#4: Paperwork Accuracy is King
First-time shippers often find themselves overwhelmed with the paperwork and documents that must be completed and prepared. The Bill of Lading (BOL) is standard paperwork that provides the customer, carrier, and driver with all the pertinent shipping costs and transport information. This includes:
- Pickup and delivery locations
- Consignor, consignee, and driver signatures
- Shipment weight and measurements
- Freight class
- Accessorials/Add-on services
The BOL is a contract between shippers and carriers and facilitates freight moving. No matter what you ship or how often you ship, a detailed BOL will be involved.
The Proof of Delivery (POD) is a receipt that the consignee signs after the delivery of the cargo/shipment. The POD’s point is to confirm that the consignment was delivered on time and that there is no damage, including concealed freight damage.
Accuracy is vital in these types of documents. Guesstimating freight class, weight, and dimensions could result in a costly billing adjustment post-delivery. Know what accessorials you’ll need to fulfill your cargo needs, request them during the quote phase, and include them on the BOL. These are additional services that go beyond the scope of the standard freight carrier services.
#5: Partner with a 3PL
All shipping tips are essential, but this one may take the cake as the top shipping tip. There’s no easier way for first-time shippers to ship freight than to partner with a freight broker like FreightCenter. Our expert shipping agents are standing by, ready to guide you step by step through the basics of freight shipping.