Freight shipments often present challenges for small business owners. However, using LTL shipping could help small businesses save money and maximize their resources.
Taking your business to the next level is not as simple as ABC especially if your business involves shipping of products/goods or raw materials.
In fact, by some accounts, a business can lose up to 500 hours per year managing shipments. As a small business owner, you have to figure out what different terms means to track shipments,
Also, managing the complexities of tariffs, fees, claims, and documentation could prove really challenging at times.
Benefits of LTL shipping
So, what are the benefits of LTL shipping for small businesses? LTL Shipping (Less Than Truckload) is a term that many business owners need to familiarize themselves with.
Unlike full load shipping, LTL generally means that you are shipping less than 10,000 pounds at one time. It also means sharing a freight trailer with other shippers who do not need a whole trailer either.
LTL is only for shipping freight. For instance, when you are shipping products to a distributor, and the shipment is too large for a parcel shipper like UPS or FedEx.
Using LTL shipping is ideal for small businesses for several reasons. Below are some of the reasons you can consider:
#1]. Reduced costs
Most small businesses turn to LTL shipping as a means of reducing their shipping costs. For starters, when you only need to use a portion of a trailer, it simply doesn’t make sense to pay for the entire thing.
By sharing the space with other businesses, you effectively split the costs of the trailer, saving everyone money. That said, your LTL rates are determined by the class of the freight you’re shipping. The weight and size of the shipment, the distance, and any special handling required all factor into the rates you pay.
If you need additional services, such as cold storage, liftgate service, or delivery appointments, those can affect the class of your shipment. Although the lower the class, the lower the rates, even higher classes are more affordable with LTL shipping.
Those savings can be passed on to your customers, as well. When you are forced to use a whole trailer and drive up costs, you have the choice of taking a hit to the bottom line or passing on the costs to customers. LTL eliminates that impossible decision, keeping shipping costs in check.
#2]. Safer shipping
LTL shipments are often safer and less likely to experience rough handling or damage during transit. Your shipments will be loaded onto pallets or into crates, which provide a greater level of protection than cartons only.
Depending on how full the truck is, your shipments will also be protected from damage that can occur from contact with other packages. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t responsible for correctly packaging your shipments.
Using tools like a temperature indicator can ensure that your shipments are handled appropriately. However, you can generally count on LTL shipments incurring less damage or other problems.
#3]. Reduced warehousing needs
When you only ship full truckloads of freight, you need a place to store all of the items while you build inventory. This means you need additional warehousing space, which can be a challenge for a small business.
By shipping LTL, you can make smaller, more frequent shipments, eliminating the need to keep extra inventory on hand. In fact, LTL shipping allows you to better manage inventory, as you aren’t forced to keep items in stock any longer than necessary.
The downsides of LTL shipping
Despite the benefits of LTL shipping to small businesses, there are a few drawbacks that you should be aware of. First, using LTL shipping may increase shipping time, and do not typically come with guaranteed delivery.
With LTL, you have to remember that you are sharing truck space with other businesses. Therefore, it’s possible that your shipments could spend more time in the truck at loading docks while those deliveries are made.
Depending on the shipper and delivery schedules, this could mean several hours to several days added to shipment times. You’ll need to work closely with your shipping provider to ensure deliveries are made on schedule.
However, if shipments need to arrive on a specific date, then other shipping methods may be a safer option. Also because LTL shipments are often transferred between trailers several times during shipment, there is always the chance of loss or damage.
Again, proper packaging is vital to reducing loss. That said, if you are shipping high volume items that are especially vulnerable to damage, it may be worth choosing a different option to reduce claims and losses.