With today’s fuel prices, industry-wide capacity crunch, and steadily increasing safety regulations, it’s no wonder many shippers are beginning to feel a sense of fright, or dread, when gathering freight rates. It’s important to look beneath the surface of actual cargo shipping charges when estimating your total shipping costs.
It’s not like “great freight rates” never happen, or don’t exist, but they are simply not as commonplace as they once were. The actual cost of shipping cargo is much more involved than merely paying the charges associated with the transportation company.
Total freight cost also includes other factors. These include: the cost of storing inventory, packaging material, salaries of shipping clerks, computer system to track and monitor shipments, actual freight rates, and cost associated with delayed shipments, plus additional special circumstance expenses. Sure, it sounds like a lot, but there is no cause for panic!
SOME STEPS THAT CAN HELP YOU SAVE MONEY,
BE MOST PRODUCTIVE, AND MINIMIZE RISK
1) MONITOR each of the above factors carefully.
2) GET experienced input on how to best package merchandise to take up the least amount of dimensional space, and minimize risk of damage. Damage control methods can vary greatly depending on shipment methods and types of carriers.
3) EMPLOY the help of a 3PL like Trinity Logistics to help match your specific needs to qualified available carriers. This type of service keeps costs lower by promoting competition, and –on your behalf– includes the use of an information database. Being able to track trends, inventory levels, and previous time and cost to ship cargo can assist you in making future shipping decisions.
4) KEEP accurate shipping records.
5) UNDERSTAND inventory trends. This can help control costs by ensuring that your company is not stuck with a lot of overstock. Storing inventory is one of the most costly expenses in the shipping process.
6) TRACK your shipments regularly. This can often be accomplished on your provider’s website or by receiving a daily report via email. It makes the carrier more accountable to deliver your loads on time. Be alert that late shipments, with increasing frequency, can result in customer fines to shippers. They also threaten customer satisfaction and repeat sales opportunities.
Stay current with all six steps. Ignoring one or two could be enough to tip things out of balance. And keeping freight rate factors under control requires walking a thin line between cost-effective transportation management and feeding the “Freight Rate Fright syndrome.”