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The New Year has finally arrived, and we certainly learned a lot from the challenges of last year. Don’t let the supply chain and business shipping issues you had in 2020 weigh you down in 2021. We’re counting down the top 8 shipping faux pas to avoid in 2021, so you can get started off on the right foot when it comes to your shipping strategy!

#8: Inaccurate Weight and Dimensions

Carriers will always measure, weigh and inspect your cargo using their sophisticated equipment, so they know exactly how much space your shipment will take on a truck and how much it weighs. Guessing at the weight and dimensions of your shipment during the freight quote process can lead to you getting an inaccurate shipping quote and billing adjustments post shipment, which means increased costs to you.

However, you can avoid this by carefully weighing and measuring your item once it is fully packaged. And no guesstimates! Be precise and accurate. Invest in an industrial freight scale if you need to. The cost will cover itself in the long run. Also, be sure your cargo is clearly labeled if it is considered hazardous materials or perishable items.

#7: Not Having a Business Continuity Plan

If 2020 taught us one thing, it’s to be prepared and plan ahead for disruptions to business and shipping and having a business continuity plan helps you do just that. What is a business continuity plan? Simply, a business continuity plan is a document outlining how a business will continue to operate during an unexpected event or unplanned disruption. This plan is designed to help you keep critical business functions working with minimal downtime in the event of an unplanned disaster or interruption.

You have a business to run and top priority is customer satisfaction. The last thing you need is a disruption that causes all business operations to come to a halt. Having a business continuity plan in place is a must.

#6: Unclear Return Policies

Thanks to COVID-19 more consumers than ever are shopping online for everything from essential items to gifts. After one of the busiest online shopping holiday seasons in 2020, many are predicting a higher-than-average amount of returned items. Retailers need to prepare for this influx of returned items by looking at their return policies and revising them as needed. That means it’s time to remember reverse logistics, or how the goods you shipped will be returned to you. But why should you consider revamping your return policy?

An Optoro study found that 97% of consumers are more likely to be repeat customers after a positive return experience, and 46% of those consumers stated they typically returned between one and three gifts received during the holidays.

While an important goal of reverse logistics and clear return policies is for small business owners to recover value from returned products, it’s equally as important to consider your customers’ satisfaction and experience. This helps you develop a thoughtful reverse logistics strategy and helps you keep your brand reputation positive.

#5: Improper Packaging

What can happen when your freight isn’t packaged properly? Punctures, abrasions, compression, environmental exposure and damage can happen. Even normal shipment handling, shock and vibration can contribute to your shipment getting damaged or damaging someone else’s shipment on the back of a truck.

Additionally, improperly packaged shipments are often outright refused at pickup by a driver who deems the packaging insufficient. These lead to additional freight costs that are a waste of time, money and energy and lead to unhappy customers. The key is to know how to package your freight properly, and you can do that by downloading our Guide to Freight Packaging here.

#4: Not Adding the Right Accessorials

Accessorials are add-on services that go above and beyond the carrier provided curbside drop off and pickup. And, since any shipment weighing 150 pounds or more is considered a freight shipment and requires the use of a lift gate, it’s likely that your shipment will need at least one accessorial if not more.

The most common accessorial needed for freight shipping is the lift gate, which is required for shipments weighing 150 pounds or more and not being loaded or unloaded at a loading dock. Another common accessorial is the limited access location accessorial, which is required for residential shippers or home-based business shippers because these locations are extra tricky for truck drivers to navigate.

If your shipment is urgent or time-sensitive, you may need to add expedited shipping services since this add on gives your freight priority over regular freight. Additionally, freeze protection services may be needed for cargo that is vulnerable to extreme cold conditions. Depending on what you’re shipping and how time-sensitive it is will help determine what kinds of accessorials you need.

#3: Incorrect Freight Classification

Incorrectly or misclassifying your freight can lead to more pesky and costly billing adjustments. It is also a matter of safety because misclassified freight can lead to a dangerous situation concerning weight distribution in the back of a truck or incompatible freight types.

Here’s what you need to know about freight class. LTL shipments are assigned a National Motor Freight Classification code, or NMFC code, which helps carriers determine the cost to ship freight. The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) developed the NMFC code to make sure that customers get unbiased pricing with a standardized freight shipping pricing process. Freight can be sorted into 18 different freight classes based on its ease of transportability, ranging from low (class 50) to high (class 500). The four main factors that determine freight class are: stowability, liability, ease of handling, and density.

#2: Mismanaging Expectations

Having incorrect expectations about what should or shouldn’t happen in the freight shipping industry can lead to headaches and frustration. We’re talking about pickup and delivery times. While carriers are working hard to pickup and deliver shipments on time and as quickly as possible, there are certain factors outside of their control that may cause shipping delays. Factors such as weather, increased shipping demand and shipping during peak seasons can impact transit times. It’s important to remember that all pickup and delivery times are estimates and not guaranteed.

Be transparent with customers if your shipment is delayed and reach out to your shipping provider for additional support, such as assistance with tracking.

#1: Not Working with a 3PL

Going it alone and not working with a third-party logistics provider (3PL) like FreightCenter means you won’t be taking advantage of all the cost savings that come from the large networks that 3PL’s have and you will have to do more work than is necessary. What we mean is this—you are busy running your business, providing services to your customers, managing the day-to-day details, and having a partner you can trust to handle your shipping lets you focus on running your business. Shipping can be time consumer and a lot to handle, and it pulls your focus away from your business. When you work with a 3PL, one major aspect of your business is covered: shipping.

FreightCenter has been helping businesses ship smarter for over 20 years. We can help you save and manage your shipping costs, figure out what freight class your shipment is, find the best freight rates, connect you with trusted carriers, identify what accessorials you need and more. When you partner with FreightCenter, you won’t have to worry about shipping faux pas, so give us a call at 844-212-7447 or get started with a free online quote.

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