R2 Logistics

How to Ship LTL: Your 7-Step Guide

Less than truckload (LTL) shipping can be a cost-effective and efficient means of transporting your brand’s goods, especially if you are running a small to mid-sized business. However, adding LTL into your distribution strategy can prove to be more than a bit tricky, particularly if you are new to the concept.

Thankfully, with the following seven-step guide, you’ll learn how to ship LTL, reduce your costs when doing so, and make your supply chain more efficient overall. Let’s dive in:

1. Determine Your Shipping Needs

Your first step will be to define your company’s shipping needs. In doing so, you’ll need to consider various factors regarding your products, such as their:

  • Size
  • Weight
  • Quantity
  • Shipping frequency
  • Special handling requirements (such as for fragile or temperature-controlled items)

You’ll then use these details to determine whether LTL is the most practical way to ship your goods.

At the same time, you must keep in mind that this isn’t an all-or-nothing decision. A good carrier partner can accommodate both LTL and full truckload shipments, which means you can adjust your distribution strategy based on fluctuations in demand.


2. Choose a Carrier

Once you’ve determined your shipping needs, it’s time to choose a carrier. Research different providers, compare their rates, read reviews, and identify the kinds of services they offer. You should be looking for a carrier with a strong track record of reliability and customer service. Doing so will help ensure your goods arrive on time and in acceptable conditions.

As part of the process, you must also verify that any prospective partner has worked with clients in your industry before. For instance, if you are shipping refrigerated goods, you shouldn’t be contracting with a carrier that has just begun offering temperature-controlled shipping services, as it may not have the necessary equipment or the required experience for your exact needs.

3. Prepare Your Shipment

Before you can ship your freight, it needs to be prepared for transport. That preparation may include packaging items securely to prevent damage, wrapping pallets, and labeling boxes. It may also involve communicating with your carrier to find out whether they have any special packaging requirements.

Additionally, you need to make sure that you include any special handling instructions of your own, as well as affix multiple labels to your cargo so that your carrier can see them from any angle.

You must ensure your team has been educated on all of these procedures so you can avoid any delays.

4. Obtain Quotes

Once you’ve prepped your goods, contact your preferred partner to obtain a quote. Remember, quotes will vary based on fuel costs, current rates, and the size and weight of your cargo. As such, it’s important to provide your carrier with accurate details about its size, weight, and destination.

If you have a few go-to providers, obtain quotes from at least two or three of them. In doing so, you can ensure you’re getting the best possible rate for your LTL shipment.


5. Schedule Pickup

After you’ve received a quote and confirmed the details of your shipment, you’re ready to schedule a pickup with your carrier. Coordinate with its team to arrange a convenient pickup time and location for your shipment.

6. Track the Goods

The best shipping partners will provide a tracking code or real-time updates on the status of your cargo. Closely track your shipment and be ready to relay its information to your customers to ensure they are kept in the loop. Ideally, your provider should include an estimated delivery timetable with your quote. And they should also notify you if there are any delays with the shipment.

7. Evaluate and Improve

Continuously evaluate your carrier’s performance, tracking everything from its on-time delivery rate to its costs and item status. Pay particular attention to any upticks in customer complaints, late shipments, or product damage claims. If your LTL carrier is not performing to your standards of quality, return to step two and seek out a shipping partner that better aligns with your needs.

Maximize Savings by Learning How to Ship LTL

If you need help sorting through your LTL shipping options or learning more about how to ship LTL goods, connect with R2 Logistics. We’re a leading third-party logistics (3PL) partner that offers a wide range of services, including LTL shipping. You can request a quote online or connect with our team today for personalized assistance that will help you streamline your supply chain.