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5 essential spot rate freight tips for smooth and cost-effective shipments

Spot rate shipping is a crucial service that businesses rely on to solve supply chain and logistics challenges. Successfully navigating the spot rate market reduces the cost of ensuring that goods flow smoothly across your supply chain – despite adverse or unpredictable conditions.

Relying solely on spot rate freight movers increases costs compared to negotiating long-term contract rate agreements. The choice between spot and contract rates depends on specific supply chain requirements.

Some businesses can’t access contract rates, while others need a reliable spot rate logistics partner capable of quickly solving supply chain transportation issues. Knowing when and how to connect with spot freight providers will help you benefit from their services while keeping costs under control.

What's the difference between spot rate and contract rate?

Spot rates for freight are typically individual contracts between shipping companies and businesses that require freight shipping services. These contracts are usually a one-off arrangement that’s negotiated for a predetermined transportation mode, date, time, and cargo load. Transportation modes for spot rate shipping include air, rail, road, sea, and multimodal transport. rate freight

Contracted rates for freight typically involve negotiations based on the overall volume of goods that require shipping. Instead of a single shipping arrangement, the shipper agrees to deliver the volume of goods over a period of time. Contract rates offer the same transportation modes as spot rates.

What are the benefits of spot rates?

The primary benefit of spot rate shipping is the ability to adapt quickly to changing freight requirements. Well-negotiated contract rates can provide a predictable, cost-effective shipping solution for many supply chain needs. When unexpected events occur, like a spike in demand or a sudden lack of supply, spot rate shipping can prevent retail stock shortages and manufacturing delays for in-demand goods.

Spot rate freight also provides a backup option if another carrier is unable to fulfill a shipment as expected. In some cases, businesses require a carrier for an immediate, expedited shipment, a service offered by some spot rate shippers. If your goods don’t meet a volume threshold that qualifies for a contract rate agreement, you’ll need to negotiate on the spot rate market.

5 essential tips to get the best spot rate for freight

1. Compare multiple providers – There’s plenty of competition to choose from for spot rate shipping. At minimum, consider multiple providers capable of covering your shipping requirements and collect detailed price and service quotes.

2. Conduct a full, apples-to-apples comparison – When comparing carriers, ensure that you get all the relevant details. Quotes from spot shippers should include an itemized list of all charges, such as Customs clearance, warehouse, transportation and other types of fees and charges. This allows you to directly compare the cost of each aspect of shipping services from multiple providers.

3. Consider the impact of seasonal trends – Negotiating a spot rate for a large, expedited shipment during Golden Week or ten days before Christmas? There’s a good chance that limited availability will greatly increase transportation costs and restrict your shipping options.

4. Adopt an agile, forward-thinking approach – Plan ahead whenever possible to avoid last-minute shipping during holidays and busy transportation seasons. Spot shipping rates arranged in advanced will often be less costly than last-minute negotiations. Consider the full range of options available to your business, such as load boards, partial truckload shipping, and different modes of transportation.

5. Give your carrier complete and accurate shipping information – Providing incorrect shipping information, like dimensions, weight, and contents, will often result in extra fees and preventable delays. Failing to communicate special shipping requirements also creates problems, ranging from compliance issues to an inability for the shipper to safely move your cargo.

Avoid the drawbacks of spot rate shipping

Contract rates involving large volumes of goods delivered over a specified period of time are usually less expensive than accessing spot rate freight services. Arranging a contract rate agreement in advance with a trusted logistics provider helps to create a predictable shipping routine.

In contrast, the spot rate shipping market can fluctuate rapidly and without warning. Similar to airline tickets, a spot rate quote can change fairly quickly when demand rises or supply diminishes. Despite increased costs and uncertainty, spot shipping offers an indispensable solution for challenging supply chain scenarios.

Cole aligns with your business requirements, so when your supply chain operations change, we provide solutions tailored to help you adapt and thrive. Connect with Cole to find out more.

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