Online sales continue to gain an increasing share of the retail sales market. Any business that wants to succeed must embrace eCommerce, which requires a cost-efficient and reliable shipment carrier. Learn more about carrier shipping and how to find the right eCommerce shipping solutions.
What Does a Shipment Carrier Do?
A shipping carrier is a company that delivers goods for another business or organization. These delivery carriers can coordinate transporting items through various means by working with a network of transportation partners.
Most people are familiar with mailing and receiving personal letters and packages. Fewer people need to send documents due to the prevalence of electronic messaging. However, the ease of online transactions has boosted the number of goods retailers ship worldwide.
As an eCommerce business grows and begins to ship goods more consistently, the costs can skyrocket, as can the time investment to process orders. Companies that need to save time and money should look to a shipment carrier to get the best deals for speedy delivery.
What Is the Difference Between a Carrier & Shipper?
The shipping carrier does the work of transporting the goods. The shipper is the sender, in other words, the individual or entity that owns the goods and pays for the service of shipping. Shipping documents may refer to the sender as a shipper or a consignor.
“Consignee” is another way to refer to the recipient of the package. Companies sending parcels should understand the meaning of these different expressions when reviewing a contract.
The sender must remain clear on who is the shipper and who is the carrier in shipping. For example, when an agreement states that liability falls on the shipper, this refers to the sender, not the shipment carrier.
What Is a Shipping Carrier Surcharge?
A shipper may incur surcharges in addition to base shipping fees. These surcharges can cover related transportation costs, such as fuel price increases.
Shippers typically have fees for shipping and handling that they may pass on to end customers unless they bake these costs into the price of the goods for sale. Anything outside of regular delivery services may require an additional surcharge. Consider some examples:
When parcels do not meet a carrier's weight limits or dimensions, an additional charge may be necessary. A larger package requires extra effort on the part of a transportation company and may slow a shipment carrier's delivery schedule. A carrier adds a surcharge to compensate for the additional work.
Shippers can avoid oversized package charges by splitting large packages into smaller shipments. A shipper could also opt for carrier freight shipping. When a business works with a multicarrier eCommerce shipper, such as FirstMile, proprietors have options for selecting the ideal carrier for each package type, regardless of size.
Residential & Rural Delivery
If an eCommerce shipper is in a residential or less-populated area away from main thoroughfares, a shipment carrier may apply a residential delivery surcharge. The effort to come to a home or residential area takes shippers away from more convenient routes and is often less fuel efficient. Companies can factor in this fee versus the convenience when planning shipments.
A shipment carrier often adds a correction surcharge if the address label is incorrect. Working with a shipping company that uses software to verify addresses ahead of time can prevent labeling mistakes, especially when using a multi-carrier shipping label.
Signatures on Deliveries
If a package requires a signature, this is an extra service that can require a surcharge for the time and effort of the driver. An eCommerce company should work with customers to determine what packages need the extra security of a signature to minimize this fee. However, the expense can be worth the protection for a valuable item.
Declared Value Charges
An eCommerce company may not ship very often and not opt for shipping insurance. Instead of the cost of insurance, a shipper may state the declared value of an item to limit a carrier’s liability for delay, loss, or damages. Many companies automatically offer declared value coverage for the first $50 or $100 on larger items.
Weekend & Expedited Delivery
Weekend delivery is now more common, but some carriers may insist on fees to offer this service. Overnight and two-day deliveries are nearly always extra.
How Does a Business Minimize Shipment Carrier Surcharges?
An eCommerce company can lessen surcharges by consistently working with an excellent shipment carrier that has a robust network of partners. The carrier should be able to coordinate with partners to ensure labels are correct and to show various shipping options for each type of package.
Shippers can do other things to save on costs by consolidating parcels for customers that make multiple orders. An eCommerce business should also audit its invoices to ensure it’s getting a good deal. Working with a multicarrier eCommerce service to coordinate deliveries assists with invoice auditing as well. The shipper has all the details on one bill and doesn’t have to track down multiple carriers to understand the charges.
What Insurance Do Shipping Carriers Offer?
A shipment carrier can help an eCommerce company protect itself by presenting options for insurance to cover damaged, stolen, or lost packages. With an increase in online shipping, a business faces greater odds of these issues. For example, 14% of Americans fell victim to porch pirates in 2022, and two-thirds lost at least one package to theft.
Shipping insurance can cover the shipping costs and the insured value of the goods. A shipper can also offer their end customers the option of purchasing additional insurance. Such coverage goes beyond the standard liability of declared value.
A shipping solutions company that handles the logistics can advise on what coverages are necessary to protect a parcel during the entire course of the delivery.
Is FirstMile a Carrier or a Courier?
A courier service refers to companies that transport smaller shipments. A courier often offers door-to-door service and will pick up items from a location in a pickup truck, car, or van for delivery.
What is a shipping carrier? Major shipping carriers typically handle large amounts of packages at once and deliver using large vehicles, such as trucks, trains, planes, and ships.
FirstMile is an eCommerce parcel carrier that offers all the benefits of a shipment carrier and a courier. The service can pick up packages and handle everything from expedited to economy deliveries.
Instead of an eCommerce business having to sort through the most cost-effective option from multiple carriers and couriers, the company can work with FirstMile to find the best price and service from multiple carriers' shipping offerings.
How Does 3rd-Party Shipping Software Work With a Shipment Carrier?
Innovative software is one option for simplifying the shipping process. The programs integrate with eCommerce platforms to allow a business to manage its shipping strategy.
The software also facilitates tracking and label customization. The program can store essential information for data management, analytics, and trends so an eCommerce business can optimize its shipping practices.
An innovative logistics and shipment carrier, such as FirstMile, integrates seamlessly with major 3rd-party shipping software providers. Taking advantage of multi-carrier shipping can offer significant savings and smoother shipping with a compatible shipping online application.
What Is a Forwarder?
A carrier forwarder often is a vital part of a multicarrier process because the forwarder may contract with a carrier for moving goods. The forwarder organizes shipments to ensure they arrive at their destination.
While carriers often rely on hub-and-spoke transportation, forwarders use a line haul system. A carrier picks up the goods and brings them to the nearest line haul agent. The line haul agent carries the delivery to the destination city. Another contracted carrier will take the goods from the line haul agent and deliver them to the final destination.
Line hauling is more customizable and provides the direct delivery option that some businesses prefer. Forwarders use the line haul system to provide personalized customer service through ground, air, or ocean travel.
Another benefit of a forwarder as a shipment carrier is allowing fewer touchpoints than the hub-and-spoke approach. Tracking can be more accurate, and companies can isolate the causes of any damage, delays, or failures.
FirstMile offers a network with workshare partners that allows businesses to select the ideal model for their operations and determine which option is best for each package.
What Are the Types of Carriers?
Depending on the need, the types of carriers in shipping can break down into classifications of common, contract, or private carriers:
Common carriers deliver goods on regular routes. They usually have set rates and offer their services to the general public.
Contract carriers limit their services to specific customers under an agreement. Companies select contract carriers for committed and reliable service. A contract shipment carrier may only have one client but could hold agreements with multiple organizations. Contract carriers are more common for large companies that can guarantee a carrier a reliable stream of work for the transportation firm.
Private carriers are shippers that own their own fleet of vehicles for delivering goods. Transportation is not their primary business, so they only concern themselves with transporting their goods for commerce.
What Are the Transportation Modes Different Shipping Carriers Use?
A multi-carrier shipping company allows its customers to take advantage of all four types of shipment and use whichever suits a shipper’s needs. Consider the four methods of how major carriers deliver your packages and the advantages of each:
Air transport can allow a company to send freight quickly to most major cities in the world. Air is often the most secure and quickest form of transit, making it suitable for time-sensitive deliveries.
Air cargo also often has fewer touches than other forms of delivery, but size limitations will apply. Because of the high level of security necessary for air travel, air freight may require less documentation.
Trucking or any method of road transport is standard for moving goods across land. Trucks offer a flexible option at a reasonable price and permit door-to-door service from shipment carriers. Truck schedules can be more susceptible to weather and traffic delays, but it is another safe and reliable mode of transport.
Rail is still one of the most cost-efficient methods for moving large goods. Congestion and traffic are rarely an issue, but expedited services are generally not available. When businesses want to save money and don’t have strict time requirements, rail can be ideal.
Transport by sea is not as speedy as air but is a less expensive method for moving large goods internationally. Ports may deal with congestion, and reliability can be an issue when dealing with international parties. However, the sea remains a great option for the safe shipping of hazardous materials and large freight that isn’t time-critical.
Are There Limitations on International Shipping?
Each country sets its own shipping restrictions. Companies need to be aware of these regulations before shipping to another nation.
Governments set rates for shipping taxes, duties, and customs. An eCommerce business can calculate the cost of these and figure out the best way to cover such expenses for doing international business. Working with an experienced shipment carrier can help a business remember to consider such issues and all of the costs while examining options.
Countries also restrict and prohibit different items. Certain food or plant products may not be permissible within the borders of some lands. Countries also have restrictions on the packaging that shippers must consider. Since security and law enforcement can vary, insurance is often a smart investment when shipping internationally.
What Is a Bill of Lading?
Shipment carriers rely on bills of lading as contracts that spell out what goods a shipper is sending, the origin, and the destination. The document is important because it details who can claim the shipped goods and who has liability for any mishaps.
The bill of lading accompanies the goods, and authorized parties from the shipper, carrier, and receiver must sign it. The different types of bills of lading include:
A multi-carrier shipping company can work with a shipper to ensure it has the necessary bills of lading.
What Is 3PL?
“3PL” refers to a third-party logistics company. When smaller businesses do not have the resources for logistics or prefer to wait on investing in warehousing, shipping, and order fulfillment, a 3PL company can step in to handle the process.
Instead of a small eCommerce company having to invest the time and energy to track orders, process returns, and fulfill orders, the 3PL company handles it. A 3PL service keeps operations running smoothly by supporting eCommerce businesses in their returns, exchanges, billing, processing, warehousing, and customer service.
In addition to being a shipment carrier, FirstMile offers services for order fulfillment, returns management, and more. The latest technologies allow small and medium-sized eCommerce businesses access to a user-friendly system for these necessary services.
What Carrier Is Best for Shipping?
Each carrier has unique advantages. While one may work best for large local deliveries in an area, another may be best for international carriers. The only way to get the best deal is to work with a multicarrier company for online shipping solutions. With multi-carrier shipping, an eCommerce company gets the best of all options with the following advantages:
Most small businesses fail because of cash flow problems. When shipping is a central part of a company’s commerce, it should be a cash generator, not a drain on resources. Businesses can always find the cheapest option with the help of the technology that an experienced logistics and transportation company uses.
However, immediate costs are not the only concern. When speed and security are of prime importance to retain customers, an eCommerce business can choose the delivery company that offers the right combination of services.
Multi-carriers automate finding the best shipping carrier for each package. A person can enter the details about the package and compare the rates and services from different carriers.
Now an eCommerce business does not have to invest time in logging into different sites or platforms to compile and compare data. With multicarrier label services and a single invoice, recordkeeping becomes easier, and mistakes are fewer.
Gaining More Options & Flexibility
A shipment carrier that uses a multicarrier solution lets eCommerce businesses quickly switch to a different transportation company if the service is subpar. A business doesn’t have to lose customers because of struggling with the same shipping issues.
Supply chain problems can strike unexpectedly and create delays or disruptions. Here again, a business does not have to rely on a single carrier and can switch to another instead of waiting on the original carrier to resolve the issue.
Additionally, once an eCommerce company is ready to scale and take on additional clientele, it doesn’t have to worry about negotiating a new contract or finding a new carrier. With a multicarrier transportation provider, the ability to expand is limitless.
Which Shipment Carrier Should eCommerce Businesses Call?
Whether eCommerce companies are looking for the lowest price on shipping or want to tailor delivery services to their specific needs, FirstMile is the shipping carrier name you can trust.