Let’s face it, mistakes do happen, and here are seven of the most obvious freight shipping problems capable of sabotaging your success.

With continuing evolution of the supply chain, customer expectations of fast deliveries right to their door are changing as well.

Thanks to successful models developed by Amazon and eBay, customers are not only comfortable, but prefer to shop online – especially in a compromised environment due to a pandemic.

Because of this shift in how customer’s view shipping, getting your products from A to B, or from the factory to their door is more critical than ever.

Of course your company is committed to excellence and customer satisfaction – that’s a given. Therefor, awareness of the most common shipping mistakes just might help you avoid those awkward moments when a problem does need to be explained.

Mistake #1: Listing the Wrong Address

It seems obvious enough to avoid, but it happens all the time, and at many different levels. It’s a stupid mistake that can cost you dearly and delay your shipment arriving on time.

If you list the wrong address, or if it’s entered incorrectly for you – thanks autofill, your delivery will end up at the wrong place. As a result, it’ll have to be tracked down and re-routed to the right address.

This costs time and resources in re-routing fees, missed deadlines and most unfortunately, unhappy customers.

Mistake #2: Improper Packaging

Sketchy packaging means damaged freight, which means unhappy customers and again, higher costs.

According to experts, the structural integrity of most any shipping container suffers significant break-down over the course of a single journey; and that’s for boxes that are correctly packed and sized.

When the package is NOT sized or sized correctly, the potential for damage rises exponentially. With the amount of time and care you put into creating your fantastic product, why would you risk all that work with inappropriate shipping boxes or using boxes with a sloppy fit?

Of course different products require varying amounts of care and protection, much of which depending on an item’s size, weight, and fragility.

Even with the right packaging, make sure that your goods are secured properly to their pallet: not filled with overhanging packages. Instead, column-stack or interlock-stack goods. Make sure they’re secured with stretch wrap and bands along with cushioning to increase shock absorption, strength, and stability.

A conversation with a preferred carrier will go a long way, and a little extra time is worth the cost of making sure your goods arrive intact and in good condition.

Mistake #3: Bill Of Lading (BOL) Inaccuracies

The key document required for every freight shipment – The Bill of Lading, one of the essential shipping terms to be familiar with, is a legally binding document giving both the carrier and the driver all the details to necessary to process and invoice the freight accurately.

The BOL includes:

  • The date of the shipment
  • The number of units in the shipment
  • The exact weight of shipment
  • The Shipper’s and Consignee’s full names and addresses
  • The Freight classification for the items being shipped
  • Type of packaging
  • The declared value of goods
  • A description of items being shipped: name and material of manufacture
  • A Purchase Order or special account numbers used between businesses for tracking
  • Special instructions for the carrier to ensure prompt delivery – such as closing times
  • If necessary, a note regarding potentially hazardous materials

Considering the amount of specific information that must be documented, it’s not uncommon for shippers to use the wrong commodity description; enter the wrong piece count; notify party; or fail to read the terms and conditions of the bill of lading just to name a few.

Mistakes like these can be extremely costly and easily avoided by carefully filling out the information. Engaging the help of someone to double-check also goes a long way to ensuring its accuracy.

Going the extra mile may seem unnecessary, but you should remind yourself what’s at stake when things aren’t 100% accurate – your products, and you business’ reputation.

Mistake #4: Incorrect Weight or Freight Class Listing

Yes, it is part of the BOL, but it’s important enough to have its own listing because improperly listed freight class or weight can be a serious and costly mistake.

If you try to guess your shipment’s weight without the aid of a weigh station, you will inevitably receive additional fees – the same goes for improper freight class.

Because a lower class is associated with a lower price, shippers sometimes try to list their shipment in the lowest possible class. But if they’re incorrect, the reclassification fee will be much higher than the margin from one class to another.

This may not seem like a big deal to some, but if you’re shipping hundreds or thousands of freight loads a year, those additional fees can add up fast. Not to mention the damage it does to a reputation.

Mistake #5: No Freight Insurance

In order to cut costs, shippers may opt to avoid insurance. It may be cheaper in the short run, but the law of averages will come back to bite you.

The simple frequency of continuous shipping over time will inevitably lead to damage of one kind or another. It may be it an overturned truck, theft, natural disasters, an accident, or a host of other problems capable of ruining a shipment.

Human error has to be taken into consideration. Plus the likelihood of a mistake occurring increases with travel distance and package handling.

The relatively small price of insuring the goods saves you from worrying about the inevitable mishaps that are bound to happen over time, and save you from what could be financially crippling replacement costs of an entire shipment.

Mistake #6: Not Palletizing

Palletizing takes time and effort, but it’s far better than having a loose stack of packages free to shift around while on route and get damaged.

Furthermore, most LTL companies won’t allow you to ship without using a pallet. If you don’t, they’ll palletize your goods and pass the cost of doing so on to you. While this can be negotiable point, it’s far less expensive to do it yourself.

Mistake #7: Overpaying for Freight

This last “mistake” may seem obvious, but it’s one mistake made far too frequently.

Working with a trusted 3PL partner is one of the best ways to avoid the mistakes listed, and more, and keep your freight costs low at the same time.

An experienced 3PL partner audits your freight invoices to ensure your company is paying the correct amount for your shipments. If in case you are overpaying, they’ll work directly with your preferred carriers to provide accurate pricing, or correct other issues.