You may need to move a family antique, or you could be a small business owner who needs to ship their one-of-a-kind creations, everyone at one point or another has special items they need to ship. Your special items will most likely need additional services to make sure they are handled with the utmost care. There are certain protocols to follow and options at your disposal when it comes to shipping special items, and to ensure they arrive safely, we’ve broken it all down for you.
Finding the Right Mode
When it comes to shipping any special item such as antiques and furniture, it’s important to determine which mode of shipping you should use. There are two main modes of transportation most commonly used in the shipping industry:
- LTL Shipping – With Less-than-Truckload Shipping (LTL), your freight shares truck space with other shipments. This is the way most antique and furniture shipments are moved on account of LTL shipping’s cost-effectiveness and a carrier’s ability to optimize their capacity.
- TL Shipping – When shipping via truckload shipping (TL), you get a dedicated truck for your shipment, which means your shipment won’t share trailer space. However, truckload shipping is typically used for very heavy, oversized and overlength items.
Depending on your shipment, you may be able to find a carrier who specializes in your type of cargo. Making that determination is easier when you rely on the expertise of a third-party logistics provider who can help you decide which mode of shipping is best for your freight. If you’re moving something like irreplaceable historic artifacts, it might be best to do a dedicated TL shipment. The common couch could very well be moved via an LTL shipping carrier and for a more affordable rate.
Getting a Quote
When shipping special items getting a quote is a crucial step in the process. It’s important to understand the freight quoting process and the difference between LTL and TL freight quoting factors.
No matter what shipping mode you’re using, accurate shipment details are vital to get a precise quote. You may not know if you’ll need certain accessorials or added services beyond the carrier standard provided curbside pickup and delivery. This plays a huge part in the quote you receive. If you aren’t sure what you’ll need, get in touch with your 3PL or shipping agent who can help you determine what additional services you might need for your shipment. Not providing accurate information or requesting these additional services during the quote process could lead to costly billing adjustments from the carrier after the shipment has been delivered. But what kind of information will you need for an accurate quote?
This is what you’ll need in order to get the most accurate quote:
- Zip codes
- Freight class
These things all play a factor in what your initial freight shipping estimate or freight quote will be. When it comes to LTL and TL quotes, they are different in a few ways. Generally speaking, LTL shipments are more negotiable than truckload shipments. In LTL shipping, your freight quote will depend heavily on dimensions, weight and freight class. When you get an LTL freight quote, it will show you discounted prices and estimated transit times for available carriers that ship to and from the zip codes you entered.
While truckload shipping doesn’t require a freight class, rates are decided differently. TL rate quotes are more variable because of the availability of these kinds of trucks. It’s best to contact your 3PL or shipping agent for full truckload quotes.
Even with common shipping items, quoting is a challenge for shippers. For special items, we strongly advise shippers to get a quote through a third-party logistics company (3PL) who has a designated agent available to assist you with every step of your special shipment. Dedicated shipping experts at 3PLs can help you decide if LTL or TL shipping is the best choice for you, and they can assist you in identifying any additional services your shipment may need.
We briefly touched on accessorials earlier, but what exactly are they and how do they relate to shipping special items? Accessorials are additional services beyond the traditional freight services. Curbside pickup and delivery are considered the standard operating procedure for all carriers so if you’re looking for services like inside pickup and delivery or white glove services for those high-end, valuable or sentimental items, you and your 3PL will have to find carriers who can handle those accessorials. Keep in mind that while you will pay more for these specialized accessorials, you will also get added peace of mind that your special item shipment is handled with great care and expertise.
Other common accessorials include:
- Liftgate – Helps raise and lower freight cargo onto the truck or onto the street curb. Needed for cargo weighing more than 100 lbs. or if there is no loading dock or forklift at the pickup/delivery locations.
- Limited Access Pickups/Deliveries – Shipping to or from someplace that makes it difficult for a truck to swing by? Then it’s considered a limited access accessorial. Some examples of limited access locations can be found here.
- Residential locations – Considered a limited access location but extends to home-based businesses as well.
For a complete look at accessorials, download our free Complete Guide to Accessorials.
Special Solutions for Your Special Items
If you’re looking into shipping special items, whether you’re shipping antique cargo, dad’s favorite gameday couch, or some custom doggie beds off your Etsy shop, FreightCenter has you covered! When you partner with FreightCenter, you get a dedicated shipping expert to assist you every step of the way. With a large network of LTL and TL carriers and a transportation management system (TMS) centralizing your search for carriers, lanes, and rates best matching your shipment’s needs, you can save time and money shipping your special items.