Among companies that ship a significant amount of goods, there are two theories of how to approach the shipping process: find workable shipping solutions and then turn your attention to other matters, or constantly remain aware of the shipping process to take advantage of better options when they become available. As one might expect, taking the first approach almost always results in paying more for the shipping process, while taking the second generally results in both cost savings and improved delivery time.
Companies that ship a significant volume of products usually ship at least some their goods using truckload (TL) shipping, where a single company ships enough goods to fill a full semi trailer. The opposite of full truckload shipping is less than truckload (LTL) shipping, in which companies that ship partial semi trailer loads combine their shipments to form a full load and then split the price of the load. The basic advantages of TL shipping solutions is that goods arrive at their destination faster and, as a result of their being shipped direct and avoiding warehouse freight handling fees, shipping costs less.
While it’s obvious at what point a company can benefit from TL shipping, achieving the optimal TL shipping arrangements can be more difficult. As with achieving the best of any shipping solution through the use of logistics, TL shippers have three options for realizing the best truckload shipping arrangements: hiring in house logistics experts, outsourcing logistics to a third party logistics (3PL) provider, or implementing TL shipping software-also known as full truckload logistics software-which essentially serves as a logistics expert, presenting companies with a range of TL shipping options that can be examined and selected by accessing a user friendly interface.
For most companies, have their own logistics department is the ideal situation for overseeing the shipping process. But for small and midsize shippers that can’t afford a payroll increase, the options are quickly narrowed to 3PL or TL shipping software. There are four types of 3PL providers: standard 3PL providers and service developers, which offer individual shipping solutions, and customer developers and customer adapters, which oversee a company’s entire shipping process. To achieve only a TL shipping solution, a company would likely choose one of the former two.
Contracting with standard 3PL providers, or service developers costs significantly less than contracting with customer developers or a customer adapters. But compared to logistics software, which allows companies to cut the middleman out of the logistic function and become their own logistics provider, it still represents an unnecessary expense, not to mention that fact that service based 3PL providers never offer the range of shipping solutions offered by logistics software, as they typically connect customers with carriers that offer a preferred discount that allows them to charge over and above the discount to profit from the arrangement.