Improve the Efficiency of Your Supply Chain with LTL Freight Management


Convenient pickup and delivery options; an increased demand for accurate, real-time visibility to their order; and easy to use, low cost transportation purchasing options—are all driving consumers to display higher expectations regarding their purchase experience.

Shipment frequency will have to increase to meet the expectations of these heightened demands putting pressure on shippers. As a shipper, you need a seamless, multimodal approach with flexibility to manage both planned and unplanned shipments. You need a less than truckload (LTL) freight management strategy. 

Leveraging a suite of solutions for LTL freight shipping is the cornerstone of a successful supply chain strategy. With additional pressures, like increased shipping frequency, it’s important for companies to understand the role of LTL freight management within their supply chain.

Here are four helpful insights to consider when building your LTL supply chain.

Aligning retailers, suppliers, and providers is vital

Consumer behavior shifts aren’t limited to just in-store or online shopping experiences. Consumers demand more from retailers—and retailers need to fulfill the requirements of ecommerce shopping, including a myriad of delivery options (e.g., store pickup, home delivery, drop-off locations). These and other options mean added challenges for retailers to have supply in the right location at the right time.

Many retailers also tighten control over their inventory as they re-engineer their supply chains to succeed in the marketplace. And they expect more from suppliers than ever before. That’s why transit times are shorter, delivery windows are smaller, and noncompliance fees are higher—especially for large, national retailers. And if not addressed properly, unprepared shippers can face long-term consequences.

Align your production schedule with delivery windows and transit times. The more you can have these parts of your supply chain aligned, the easier managing LTL freight becomes. Retail compliance requirements will certainly continue to change the way suppliers deliver to retailers. Consider adding additional mode optimization strategies, like a retail consolidation program into your transportation strategy.

Retail consolidation can help improve the speed of delivery, which is critical in times of disruption, and especially in the delivery of essential goods. You may turn to retail consolidation to improve your on-time delivery performance, align with specific retailer compliance initiatives, and add connectivity across supply chain partners (think retailers, suppliers, manufacturers, transportation providers, and consolidator). It’s also a way to increase cost-savings for LTL or order-level business. Many shippers also discover a reduction in total lead time, which in turn can reduce inventory carrying costs.

You might even notice an improved cash-to-cash cycle that leads to profits, because your products move more quickly off the books on a prepaid basis. These benefits can also add to your ability to precisely address metrics that retailers use to gauge performance, which leads to fewer missed delivery appointments and reduced out of stock incidents.

Flexibility and mode optimization are required for increase shipment frequency

As order frequency increases, order sizes tend to decrease—and not every shipment requires a full truck. Most companies, from small businesses to the largest in the world, leverage various modes to ship freight that does not fill an entire truck.

If truckload was the only option, companies would have to wait until demand reached a point when they could send a full trailer. The only other option would be to send a trailer with empty space, which wastes money, fuel, and time.

Less than truckload solutions like consolidation and common carrier LTL—retail, temperature-controlled, and dry consolidation—solve this issue by pairing your freight with the freight of other companies. Instead of waiting to fill a full truckload of goods, your company can send freight whenever it is needed. Being able to send smaller shipments improves efficiencies, reduces costs, and leads to happier customers thanks to reduced shipping time.

When it comes to service options, LTL solutions provide greater flexibility, too. Specialized options like inside pickup and delivery, lift gates, refrigeration, special handling, freeze protection, and more can better serve your unique needs and your customers’. When building a supply chain strategy, these characteristics are key when evaluating a service provider. Always be sure to obtain the LTL freight quotes that will work best for you.

The importance of shipment tracking

Knowledge is power—in the increasingly interconnected world of supply chains. Quality LTL carriers provide real-time tracking updates for delays, deliveries, pickup, stop-offs, and more. Knowing where your freight is now, and where it’s going to be, means more opportunities to improve performance and efficiency across your supply chain.

Use shipment data and freight visibility tools to determine warehouse space needs, plan work, prepare for future shipments by having a clear perspective on where your products are now and where they are going to be.

Improving your LTL freight management strategy

You can’t plan for every possible disruption, but your LTL freight management strategy should accommodate most situations. With a set transportation schedule and alignment between the retailer and your provider, you should develop defined costs for budgeting—not to mention lower costs because of greater predictability. Service should then improve accordingly, and exceptions go down. And if things get off track, make sure you have the resources and expertise to manage exceptions and provide optimal solutions.

In addition to technology, you need the right supply chain experts available to help coordinate your partial shipment strategy. C.H. Robinson is here to help add LTL freight management to your supply chain strategy. With our experience and suite of LTL services, shippers like you get smarter solutions that meet rising consumer expectations, improve efficiencies, fit your unique needs, and increase velocity.

Using LTL solutions to improve your supply chains can’t wait. Customers expect greater responsiveness and quicker deliveries with each passing day. Control your costs and improve delivery times through our vast capacity network—LTL, consolidation, and parcel. Contact us to see how our LTL solutions can benefit your supply chain strategy.