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The increased demand for international freight shipping is closely linked to the technological revolution, the internet, and the rapid rise of e-commerce. Modern consumers are becoming increasingly attracted to online purchasing of all types of goods, from clothing to groceries.

Supply chains, logistics, and the corresponding customer support must be mastered by any company looking to compete in today’s market. As fulfillment is a complicated process with tight margins, it’s vital for businesses to cut costs where possible. However, this must not come at the expense of quality service.

As a critical part of business operations, freight shipping can have a tremendous impact on the success of a business. Mistakes can cost organizations time and money, often leading to failure and company closures. With razor-thin margins for error, here are common freight shipping mistakes to avoid, as well as tips for keeping your costs down.

Common Shipping Mistakes

While some mistakes are expected in business, they can be costly. Businesses must put policies and procedures in place to keep them at a minimum. Fortunately, most common shipping mistakes have already been made, meaning you can learn from the errors of others. Here are some of the most common freight shipping mistakes and how you can avoid them.

Incorrect Packaging

Shippers can cover all bases from an administrative and organizational standpoint only to let themselves down through incorrect packaging. Faulty, incorrect, or poorly packaged goods are the primary causes of damaged freight and delivery delays.

During transit, shipping boxes take a significant amount of punishment, particularly if they’re stacked. Your packages must be assembled to absorb the impact of shipping while maintaining their structural integrity.

Different goods require specific types of packaging. Where heavy-duty items may be built to withstand a few bumps, delicate products can be ruined if they collide with other items during shipping. Establish what degree of protective packaging is necessary and ensure your items are boxed correctly.

It can be beneficial to work with a specialist packaging company to create custom packages for your items.

Signing an Incorrect Bill of Lading

The Bill of Lading is a legal document that contains all essential shipping details. It is essentially a contract between the carrier and the shipper agreeing that the shipped goods are exactly as described and designates each party’s financial responsibilities.

Some of the key information it contains are:

  • Shipper and consignee names and addresses
  • Shipment date
  • Number of shipping units
  • Freight classification of all items
  • Declared value of all goods
  • Type of packaging
  • Full description of all shipping items
  • Precise weight of shipment
  • PO or dedicated numbers for order tracking
  • Information on potentially hazardous goods

Signing an incorrect BOL can have severe consequences, such as loss of the right to limited liability, loss of Protection and Indemnity cover, loss of the right of indemnity from the charterer, and criminal prosecution.

It is beneficial to hire a customs broker or a freight forwarding service to help you handle legal documents like the BOL.

Mislabelling Freight Weight

There is no room for guessing in freight shipping. Many shippers estimate the weight of their shipment, costing them significantly in the long run. Listing the wrong freight weight will lead to additional costs, which can add up quickly, mainly if you’re dealing with a large shipment.

Be precise with all measurements and labeling. Weigh your freight before completing the paperwork and ensure the correct information is provided.

Incorrect Freight Classification

Freight classifications were created by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) to help develop more standardized pricing for shipments. The classes are assigned depending on the density and value, storage capability, handling, liability, and difficulty of transit for the shipping item. The higher the freight class, the more costly the shipment is likely to be.

Ensure all items are assigned the correct classification. There are severe ramifications for mislabelling freight classes.

Not Having Freight Insurance

Many shippers avoid paying insurance on their freight to reduce costs. While this can be tempting in the short-term, it is a high-risk approach that can lead to significant additional costs long-term.

The higher the frequency and distance you ship your goods, the higher the odds of your freight being damaged. Unfortunately, damage during transit is something that all shippers have to deal with.

For the relatively low cost of insurance, it is well worth it. Don’t wait until you’re facing a damage claim before taking out freight insurance.

Not Inspecting the Freight

Don’t let laziness or poor time management cost you. Ensure you inspect the shipment whenever possible, especially before signing the BOL. Make double-checking a habit and avoid being surprised by errors, damaged freight, or mislabelled goods.

Miscalculating Transit Times

Due to the nature of long-distance freight shipping, transit times are always estimated. The delivery times provided by your shipping company are usually general and may not consider holidays or weekends.

Weather, traffic, and other variables can affect transit times. Don’t take delivery estimates as guaranteed to avoid disappointing your customers. Although projecting fast deliveries might benefit in the short term, continually overestimating will ultimately cost you customers and your brand reputation.

Low Risks Lead to High Rewards

It’s possible to keep costs down without taking major risks. While risk-taking is an important part of business, it is better left to other operations. Freight shipping is an area that requires organization, focus, and diligence. Keeping risks low should be a priority.

For further information on freight shipping, contact Asiana USA, a world-class international shipping service. Call us today at (855) 500-1808.

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