13 strategies to reduce your transportation costs
It's a hard reality that transportation (freight) prices have been headed skyward for the past couple of years with no signs of coming back down. The initial shock of the pandemic in early 2020 has only compounded into tight capacity, frustrating delays, and premium rates.
To stay abreast of the changing market conditions, check out our monthly freight updates tracking the global supply chain.
While delays and rate increases aren’t in your control, some factors absolutely are. Learn more about factors impacting your transportation costs here.
Here are 13 strategies to reduce your transportation costs:
1. Consolidate your smaller shipments
Collaborate with your freight forwarder—they serve multiple companies that may be shipping to the same location. Or combine several of your own smaller shipments into one larger one. Learn more about consolidation here.
2. Send larger shipments, less often
Similarly, try taking on larger orders with less frequency. It’s cheaper to ship 10 pallets at once than two pallets every two days. Ask about off-peak days to potentially reduce your rates even further.
3. Contract steady volumes
Try to make your freight volumes regular so your carrier or forwarder can plan around it. With capacity as tight as it is, carriers appreciate loyal customers with reliable volumes.
4. Avoid rate shopping
As tempting as it is to shop for lower rates, long-term relationships are actually a better way to get better rates and service.
5. Do a freight spend analysis
Analyzing your freight spending can help you determine accurate baselines, identify hidden costs, and pinpoint specific areas where you can reduce overspending and strategically bring costs down.
6. Be open to feedback from your logistics provider
Your 3PL moves freight every day—they may have strategies and ideas to help you streamline your operations and save money that way.
7. Carry safety stock (but not too much)
Look into warehousing safety stock you can get to your retailers easily in the case of shipping delays. But remember, too much on-hand inventory increases your storage costs, so find the balance.
8. Consider supplier (and retailer) location
Look into local suppliers to cut down on transportation costs upstream in your supply chain. Similarly, look into local retailers to reduce transportation costs downstream.
9. Increase lead times
The longer the notice, the more carriers and freight forwarders can do to be more efficient and offer you a better price.
10. Load quickly
Transportation pricing typically assumes a 2-hour load window. If you develop a reputation for loading in an hour, that can affect your price.
11. Maximize your pallet space
Think strategically about product design, packaging, and carton selection. Stack your product so you take fewer pallet spots. Consider all strategies to make it easier to get more cargo packed onto a pallet and into a trailer or container.
12. Be open to later pick-up times
Offering carriers or forwarders pick-up times after most other shippers have closed the dock—after 6 p.m. through to midnight—allows them to make their deliveries and fill their backhaul with your freight.
13. Work with a great freight forwarder
Expertise, creative solutions, long-term relationships (that translate into better rates and priority treatment). Read more about working with a freight forwarder.
With offices in the U.S. and Canada and 60 years of experience, let our logistics professionals take the stress out of your international shipping.