How to Find Cheap Shipping Rates (And What to do Next)
Of course your business wants to try and find cheap shipping rates. The process; however, can be a long and tedious one, and finding those cheap shipping rates may not be the easiest task. Investing your resources in that task may come with a significant cost — including missed timelines and upset customers.
Every business looks for ways to either save money or make more of it. It’s critical to our survival. Looking at transportation and supply chain logistics, let’s face it — transportation is a major investment for many organizations.
Finding cheap shipping rates can take you down a few different paths.
There are a few steps you can take to help find cheap shipping rates, including:
1. Do your research. Depending on the amount of time you want to put into this task, you can call or contact many different freight brokers and trucking companies to find the cheapest shipping rates. The end result of your efforts could be a decent savings. The tradeoff? Your time, and how much you value it. Not to mention the impending bidding war that brokers and trucking companies are likely to cause fighting over the same trucks that can do the job.
What happens if many brokers are fighting over the same trucks to haul your shipment? The answer is simple: The trucks will ask for more money to haul your freight. It’s a risky tradeoff to spend so much time on something that may not end up with the savings you expect. Plus, when you do land cheaper rates, they won’t always add up to more savings: The reality is that the “cheapest rates” almost always come with a cost (keep reading for more insight into the hidden costs associated with cheaper shipping rates).
2. Hire someone else to do the research for you. If finding cheap shipping rates is the only factor you’re considering and you’re worried about how much time it will take you to do it yourself, it may make sense to hire a full-time employee to do the research for you. The upside? Due to a full-time commitment to the job, this person should quickly learn the ins and outs of your business and its needs, and should be able to search efficiently after a relatively quick onboarding process. The downside? It comes back to cost. The cost to post a job, conduct interviews, hire and onboard, plus offer benefits, etcetera, can quickly equal up to 150% of that individual’s salary. Plus, when you add in the hours lost by your team on the hiring process, it can quickly add up.
Still on the fence? To determine whether hiring a permanent resource committed to finding cheap shipping rates, ask these questions:
- Is there any seasonality to your business?
- What do you with this employee to manage peaks and slow times within your business?
- Will it mean that you have to hire more staff to manage more demand during peak times to only have to lay them off and start the process all over again when it isn’t busy?
A permanent on-site commitment to finding the cheapest shipping rates also comes with additional administrative costs required to pay a number of carriers. Still more costs are incurred to ensure proper onboarding of each carrier to limit your company’s liability if there are problems with a shipment. These costs can add up! Additional questions your organization should ask in these circumstances include:
- Would a permanent staff member need training to be knowledgeable in many different modes of transportation?
- Would you need to develop a number of new systems in order to be able to properly handle and process these new, multiple transactions?
- Would your staff need to also be knowledgeable in customs issues and claims should they occur?
3. Think about alternative ways to ship. The difference in cost to ship via ocean, truck or train can vary quite a bit. Knowing what you’re shipping, the distance and other variables is key to choosing the right way to ship in order to maximize your budget. Even a hybrid solution could maximize your budget and efficiency. When you partner with a transportation provider (like Loadstar Transportation), your transportation and logistics partner will examine every detail and determine the best, most cost efficient way to ship your freight. This is an important facet to consider when searching for the cheapest shipping rates.
4. Make sure to truly understand the cost of a cheaper shipping rate. “Cheap” shipping rates can be deceiving, so it’s important to look under the curtain a bit to understand the true difference in cost. It’s often much more than dollars and cents. In order to provide bottom floor prices, many providers have to cut their own costs somewhere. Perhaps they’re leaving out cargo insurance. Maybe they aren’t strict with equipment service or maybe they don’t have systems in place to properly address driver training. Or perhaps they just don’t have the equipment you need when and where you need it. Often times, it most certainly means a decrease in the level of service. It’s critical to the long-term success of your business that you add up all the direct and indirect costs of shipping your freight, then determine what equals a truly fair price based on your needs.
Your Next Steps After Finding Cheap Shipping Rates
Okay, so you’ve found the cheapest shipping rates for your needs and have determined that the final quote is one that balances the level of service and quality you need within your budget. Great! Here are several areas to monitor throughout the shipment of your freight to determine whether to continue the relationship with logistics and transportation provider:
Responsiveness. Your shipment is critical to your business, so it should be critical to your logistics and transportation partner. Questions and phone calls should be attended to promptly to ensure your satisfaction. If, after shopping for the cheapest shipping rates, you found that your choice partner was not attentive to your needs, it may be time to look elsewhere.
Availability. Your shipment is on the go 24/7, so it’s important for your transportation and logistics provider to be available in case of an emergency. If you’ve ever had a hard time getting information about your shipment or reaching someone to ask a question, you may want to move on from this partnership. Here at Loadstar, we are available directly 5am to 5pm, we also have automated tracking and after hours emergency access to ensure you are always connected. <
Flexibility. Today’s businesses are dynamic and require unique solutions. Your transportation and logistics provider should have the flexibility to adapt its solutions to your needs — and the constantly changing marketplace. Depending on your needs, a a partner with flexibility to include air, ocean, expedited service (by ground or air) 3PL, multimodal and intermodal, can best tailor a solution to meet your precise needs. If you found a cheap shipping rate but ultimately were not delivered the best solution due to a lack of flexibility, it may be time to look for another partner.