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LTL Shipping For Businesses

Posted on May 22, 2024

Written by Mickey Powers

ltl shipping for businesses

As a professional in the retail, e-commerce or manufacturing distribution industry, you must consider various shipping options to optimize your logistics operations. Finding a small freight delivery service that meets your needs can balance cost-effectiveness and efficiency in transporting smaller shipments.

Less-than-truckload shipping is a method many companies use to transport goods that don’t fill an entire truck. Instead of paying for a whole truck, your business shares space with smaller loads in the same cargo area. You only pay for the space you use instead of a full container. The LTL freight market has experienced a continuous increase due to the demand for inland freight transportation.

How Does LTL Shipping Work?

Though you can also lower your shipping costs by extending delivery times and optimizing routes, LTL shipping is often the most cost-effective overall option for small businesses. LTL shipping may take slightly longer than full truckload shipping, but it’s the ideal middle ground when you have items too large for parcel shipping but not enough for full truckloads.

The process typically works in the following order:

  1. A business contacts a carrier with shipment, pickup and delivery information.
  2. The carrier assigns a locally operated truck with enough capacity to pick up the packages.
  3. Shipments from different businesses travel to a central hub and get loaded onto trailers.
  4. These trucks travel to a freight terminal where workers transfer all packages to different trucks based on the destination.
  5. At the hub closest to the destination, packages move to local delivery trucks for delivery to the specified address.

benefits of less-than-truckload shipping

Benefits of Less-Than-Truckload Shipping

Here are the additional advantages businesses can experience with LTL shipping.

  • Economical: Using LTL carriers saves costs — you only pay for your shipment instead of the whole truck.
  • Various options: LTL shipping can accommodate unique shipment requirements, whether you have differently sized packages or need extra delivery services.
  • Environmentally conscious: When you consolidate different shipments in one truck, you also reduce the number of vehicles on the road, decreasing your company’s carbon footprint.
  • Increased frequency: With LTL, businesses can ship smaller quantities more frequently without waiting to fill a whole truck, allowing for better responsiveness to customer demands and inventory management.
  • Reduced warehousing needs: Since businesses can ship smaller quantities more frequently, they reduce the need for large warehouses and the associated storage costs.
  • Trackability: Most LTL freight companies provide tracking services for real-time shipment visibility.
  • Multiple carrier networks: Businesses can access national and regional carrier networks that enhance their delivery efficiency depending on their needs.

Transportation Management Systems

You’ll likely benefit from a transportation management system if your company frequently ships products. A TMS is a logistics platform that helps businesses manage their transportation operations more efficiently. It can plan routes, track shipments and optimize transportation costs by comparing different LTL carriers. A TMS also keeps paperwork up to date and ensures compliance. Essentially, this system automates formerly manual shipment tasks for more accuracy, freeing you for other mission-critical work.

TMS Functions

LTL shipping becomes a more efficient process with TMS. These systems typically work as follows:

  1. Order processing: Through an automated system or manual input, the TMS receives shipment details, including the destination and the packages’ size and weight.
  2. Rate comparison: The TMS then compares rates from different LTL carriers based on factors like distance, cost and additional services to determine the most cost-effective option.
  3. Carrier selection: The TMS assigns the shipment once they have identified the best carrier based on transit or price.
  4. Labeling and documenting: The TMS generates shipping labels and necessary documentation for the carrier and business to ensure accurate package handling and tracking.
  5. Tracking: The TMS provides real-time visibility into the shipment status and location, allowing businesses to monitor progress and proactively address potential issues.
  6. Invoice management: After delivery, the TMS reconciles carrier invoices with the agreed-upon rates and services to ensure accuracy and facilitate payment processing.
  7. Analytics and reporting: The TMS collects data on shipping performance, costs and performance. This valuable information enables businesses to analyze trends, identify areas for improvement and make informed decisions for optimizing their shipment operations.

Benefits of Using a TMS

Using a TMS offers several advantages for businesses.

  • Cost savings: TMS optimizes routes and consolidates shipments, thereby reducing transportation costs while improving efficiency.
  • Better visibility: With TMS’ tracking capabilities, businesses can follow shipments in real time and help with decision-making.
  • Enhanced efficiency: The system automates and streamlines many previously manual processes, such as invoicing.
  • Better customer service: With better shipment visibility, businesses can estimate delivery times more accurately, get faster response times and improve their communication with customers through automated shipment notification with tracking links.
  • Data analysis: TMS provides valuable data for analyzing performance, identifying trends and making strategic decisions to optimize logistics operations.
  • Compliance: Businesses can ensure compliance with regulations and provide detailed reporting for auditing.
  • Inventory management: With better tracking, businesses can predict inventory trends more accurately to ensure customers receive their products on schedule.

Best Practices for Businesses Using LTL Shipping

We’ve put together some tips to help you maximize LTL shipping.

  • Use proper packaging: Use durable materials and safety packaging to protect your products during transit and handling. Add any fragile or hazardous labels.
  • Take measurements: Check your packages’ weight and dimensions so you have all the information you need to compare costs between carriers and identifying the correct freight class.
  • Implement tools: Implement a TMS platform to better control your LTL shipments.
  • Plan and consolidate: Combine smaller packages to reduce your shipping costs and minimize handling. Fewer shipments are easier to track and require less paperwork.
  • Build relationships: Choose an LTL carrier with a reputation for timely deliveries and responsive customer service. Developing a long-term relationship with one service provider can lead to room for rate negotiations and customized services.

best ltl rates

Get the Best LTL Rates and Contracts With Broussard Logistics

LTL contract optimization alleviates higher shipping costs and inefficient resource use. LTL carriers offer flexibility, shipment tracking and improved supply chain management. When you partner with Broussard Logistics, you can achieve more with detailed carrier analysis, benchmarking and contract negotiation support. We don’t believe in one-size-fits-all solutions, so we developed a proprietary TMS to tailor solutions for each customer’s unique needs.

Do you want more information on how our LTL contract optimization solutions can benefit your business? Get in touch with us and start reducing your transportation costs today.