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Leveraging Shipping Cost Efficiencies (Conclusion)

There are many delivery options when it comes to getting the parts you need

CHICAGO — Getting the parts you need to keep your machinery up and running is critical for dry cleaners, and shipping expense and time in transit are crucial factors when it comes to getting pieces from the manufacturer to your front door.

In Part 1 of this series, we examined factors such as speed vs. cost, lead time and consolidation when it comes to shipping, and we’ll conclude today by looking at other factors, as well as the pros and cons of various carriers.

International Freight Forwarding

Freight forwarding companies provide a variety of supply chain services, offering air and sea freight options at discounted prices. They often have regularly scheduled containers of goods shipped from one of many port cities, like Miami, to destination countries all over the world. They contract with carriers to get special pricing that can be passed on to customers.

Normally, a small package shipment cannot take advantage of reduced rates for sea freight due to size requirements for such shipments. Freight forwarders consolidate multiple shipments from different customers going to the same destination country and consolidate them to allow them to meet the minimum size requirements of ocean transport.

Freight forwarders typically offer delivery to the destination address of the customer. If your distributor knows how to work with freight forwarding companies, you will be able to take advantage of this service and save thousands of dollars in transport costs yearly. Inquire to see if your distributor has expertise in the regulations of each country they ship to and if they can provide all the necessary documents, including commercial invoice, shipper’s export declaration and bill of lading to assure compliance with the regulations of the destination country.

Small Package Forwarders

There are a number of companies in the U.S. that offer services comparable to forwarders for small packages such as Shipito, Stackry, Reship, OPAS and These companies have warehouses in many U.S. cities and offer a host of services, such as consolidation from multiple U.S.-based suppliers, repackaging, volume discounts, storage, photos and online shipment management. Small package forwarders normally work with smaller shipments and ship by air services, so they cannot offer the same sea freight discounts offered by the larger freight forwarders.

Multiple Carriers

There are a variety of freight carrier options in which you may be able to work with your distributor, each with its own advantages, depending on your needs and urgency.

USPS — The U.S. Postal Service, along with its partnerships with postal services in virtually every country in the world, can be an effective and efficient method of transporting goods. Historically, the USPS has had the reputation of losing shipments or long delays in shipment delivery. To be sure, this still happens more often than we would like, but it has made great strides in improving these areas and can now be considered as a practical option if minimizing time in transit is not a high priority.

UPS — UPS is a strong U.S. package shipment company, capable of reaching virtually any destination in the country in five days or less, with economical rates, delivery guarantees and excellent package tracking. UPS can also be an effective method to ship overseas, with many of the same advantages as listed for domestic shipments. See if your distributor can help you compare the shipping costs from multiple carriers and help you choose the method that best matches your needs.

DHL — DHL is a well-known worldwide shipper of small packages and can also be a highly effective shipping method. Like UPS, it offers delivery to virtually any destination in the world. DHL is often less expensive than UPS for destinations outside the U.S. but there are exceptions; your distributor can give you the details to help you meet your specific needs.

Air Freight — For larger international shipments that exceed the size or weight limitations of the previous three carriers, your distributor can provide a quote for transportations costs using the air freight divisions of UPS and DHL. 

LTL Truck — For larger or heavier domestic shipments, see if your distributor can provide point-to-point costs from almost any carrier working in the U.S. In addition to the transportation cost, there are often additional charges for liftgate service if the destination doesn’t have a loading dock and the part is too heavy to handle manually.

Start planning today to improve your bottom line this year by managing your inbound transportation costs.

For Part 1 of this series, click HERE.

Leveraging Shipping Cost Efficiencies

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Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].