5 Questions About LTL Shipping that Small Businesses Should Ask

Less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping provides cost-effective freight solutions for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). It's a perfect option for those shippers who need more space than what small package shipping provides, but less space than a full truckload (FTL). However, LTL shipping is unique from other shipping modes, and learning and understanding more about this shipping method will allow you to maximize efficiency and convenience for greater cost savings and streamlined processes. Below, we list common questions shippers have about LTL and provide tips on how to navigate them.

1. Am I using the best carrier for the job?

There are many local, regional and national LTL freight carriers. Do a little research to identify those that provide service in your area and offer the best pricing for the particular services you need. Choose a reputable carrier that specializes in LTL shipping for small business customers. Compare and identify the carrier that best suits your company's specific needs. Or, partner with a 3PL like Unishippers with a vast network of industry-leading carriers to help ensure you always receive the best services for your specific shipping needs.

2. What factors determine my LTL shipping rates?

Many factors used in determining your freight class, in addition to freight class itself, are used in calculating the freight shipping rate such as weight, density, value and ease of handling. Other factors that determine your freight rate are shipping distance, additional fees/surcharges and negotiate discounts (if using a 3PL provider).

Accessorial charges may be added to the bill from the time of pickup to the time of delivery for additional services that are needed. These added charges may be for services such as lift-gate, reclassification or reweigh, and residential delivery charges associated with loading and delivery delays (to name a few).

3. Am I using the appropriate packaging for LTL freight shipping?

LTL shipping allows you to share the trailer space and transit cost with other shippers who are also sending less than a full truckload of freight. Because of the nature of LTL shipping, you will want to package your freight on pallets or in crates to keep it organized and protected. And although it might seem like a cost-cutting measure, using low-quality packaging material can lead to damaged shipments and cost you more in the long run. That is why shippers should make sure all items are carefully packaged. Need help? Here are some additional tips to prevent damage to your products and brand.

  • Use new boxes for each shipment as old boxes can lose their strength.
  • Use bubble wrap or packing peanuts inside the box to help absorb impact and protect breakable items being shipped LTL freight.
  • Use 2-inch wide tape to seal your box. For the greatest strength, make an "H" shape with the tape by going down the center of the box and also down each side to tightly seal your package.
  • Use a label sleeve or clear tape over the shipping label to protect it from weather elements.

4. How can I track my freight shipments?

To ensure that your freight shipments are being fulfilled and delivered to your customers on time, consider investing in or utilizing a freight transportation management system to track each shipment from its creation to the time of delivery.

Partnering with a well-established third-party logistics (3PL) provider opens up a world of options for small business shippers, including online tracking of your shipment and the leverage of more than 75+ top LTL freight partnerships consisting of national, regional and local carriers to get you the best LTL freight services at competitive rates.

5. Am I using the right freight classifications?

Assigning the correct freight class to your shipment is critical to accurately calculating a carrier's rates for your goods. Your freight classification is based on the dimensions, weight, density, value, ease of handling, the carrier's level of liability and other factors.

When the freight class is incorrect, the shipment must be measured and weighed again, otherwise, it must be reevaluated and reclassified. That is likely to result in increased freight charges. To get accurate freight classifications, learn more about National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) codes. You can also watch this 4-minute video to quickly determine your freight shipment's proper NMFC class and code.

Unishippers: The 3PL for All Your Business Shipping Needs

Navigating your freight shipping options alone can be confusing. There is much to consider, especially in times of increased consumer demand where efficiency and cost savings are the name of the game. Many shippers just like you have seen great success in partnering with a 3PL like Unishippers.

We give you access to our team of shipping experts that understands the specific needs of SMB shippers. That means you get access to better (and easier) ways to save on all your business shipping.

Ready to work with a 3PL that puts you first? Receive a free freight shipping quote or contact us at 800-999-8721 to learn more about our 3PL services for your business.

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