If you are looking for third-party logistics (3PL) services, you might want to know the main differences between asset-based and non-asset-based offerings so that you can choose the best option. This guide will cover the basics and pros and cons of these services to help you make the right decision.
What Is an Asset-Based 3PL?
An asset-based 3PL is a provider that owns a part, or all, of the resources necessary to manage a supply chain. They usually have warehouses, distribution centers, trucks and carriers.
Their services often include warehousing, transportation and distribution. An asset-based 3PL will use its own team and resources to deliver your products.
Advantages of Asset-Based 3PLs
Asset-based 3PLs can provide several benefits to businesses. They are their own carrier, meaning they likely have specific lanes and services for a hyperlocal area. An asset-based 3PL can be a reliable choice if you are delivering locally.
Generally, asset-based 3PLs also have more control over their supply chain because they own it. These providers set their prices because there is no negotiation with outside partners.
In addition, they can more readily handle issues with carriers and easily make changes to fix other errors. Asset-based 3PLs can be more secure and less likely to shut down without warning. You should also see consistency in the quality of your services when you choose an asset-based 3PL.
Disadvantages of Asset-Based 3PLs
While asset-based 3PLs offer several benefits, they also have their shortcomings. Potential disadvantages include:
Fixed rates: The asset-based 3PL decides the cost of services, so there will be little room for negotiation.
Capacity limits: Depending on how many businesses they work with, an asset-based 3PL may have all of their fleets already occupied when you need to ship products. These providers are more limited in how much service they can provide, so you should ensure they have a good strategy.
Smaller offerings: An asset-based 3PL may offer fewer services depending on the vehicles, warehouses and other available resources.
What Is a Non-Asset-Based 3PL?
Non-asset-based 3PLs do not own any part of their supply chain. These providers form partnerships with other companies to help move your freight. A non-asset-based 3PL focuses on developing personalized solutions using their expertise.
Since they negotiate with outside trucking and warehousing companies, non-asset-based 3PLs can offer low-cost services.
Advantages of Non-Asset-Based 3PLs
These providers often have connections to an extensive network, allowing them to choose what will work for you. Non-asset-based 3PLs are highly flexible and knowledgeable. Their team will help you determine what portions of your supply chain to fix and suggest how to enhance your operations. They work to find suitable carriers, warehouses and other distribution elements for your needs.
Your supply chain network becomes a part of the non-asset-based 3PL’s overall network, increasing optimization. In this situation, your provider has multiple fleets available instead of a single supply chain network.
Disadvantages of Non-Asset-Based 3PLs
Working with non-asset-based 3PLs has several disadvantages, including:
Less control: A non-asset-based 3PL does not have much control over its supply chain. It works with several partners, meaning it is not fully controlling what happens throughout the delivery process. If something goes wrong, there is little the company can do to fix it because it is entirely outsourced.
Lack of familiarity: Working with multiple partners can prohibit the 3PL’s teams from building expertise with your products and requirements.
More trust necessary: You have to ensure you can trust a non-asset-based 3PL. Since they do not own any part of the supply chain, you are relying on them to make the right call for your company so you can get the services you need. The provider may or may not have the foundation to do this — it’s your responsibility to check and ensure they are transparent with you.
What Are the Benefits of Using a 3PL From Street Fleet?
If you need 3PL services in Minnesota or Western Wisconsin, we are here to help. At Street Fleet, we are a full-service delivery company. We provide same-day courier delivery, overnight distribution, cross-docking and warehousing.
Street Fleet has over 300 drivers and vehicles, ranging from bikes to cars and trucks, enabling us to provide customized solutions. Our popular services include:
We at Street Fleet like to think of ourselves as an extension of your company. Our delivery services make it easier for you to focus on other aspects of your business. We also have IT services and online account management.
Whether you need medical couriers, airport recovery or scheduled deliveries, our team is here to help. We operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The time between clicking the buy button and receiving a package at the door is always narrowing. Today, people are expecting their packages to arrive within a few days — or sooner. The recent boom of customer demand has created the need for companies to find innovative ways to quickly get packages where they’re supposed to go.
One critical aspect of the process is last-mile delivery. As a central cog in the supply chain, last-mile delivery is swiftly becoming one of the major focuses of supply chain managers. In this article, we’ll look at what last-mile delivery is, how it works, what its challenges are and more.
What Is Last-Mile Delivery?
The shipping and delivery process consists of a series of intricate parts. First-mile delivery is when a product is first introduced into the supply chain. From there, it goes on a journey, trading hands and getting closer to the customer.
Last-mile delivery is the final step in the shipping process. It includes the time from when a package arrives at a warehouse near the customer’s location to when it’s delivered to their doorstep. Though this might seem simple, it’s actually one of the most challenging and complex parts of the delivery journey.
How Does Last-Mile Delivery Work?
A customer will shop on a company’s site, find the product they want, choose an adequate shipping option and press buy. From there, the company fulfills the order, and the product takes off through the shipping journey, eventually getting to the final leg — last-mile delivery. Here is where things get interesting — companies typically have to hire an independent business to be their last-mile carrier. Because of this, many factors fall out of the main company’s hands.
If you’ve ever ordered a package and seen the “out for delivery” update pop up and stay there for a while, you’ve likely felt the challenges of last-mile delivery. Although you would think that your location’s proximity to the local warehouse would make the delivery process quick and easy, many additional factors are in play.
What Are the Challenges of Last-Mile Delivery?
The reason last-mile delivery is such a focus of the supply chain is that it holds some of the greatest challenges. From location to route design, companies have to consider many factors while planning for last-mile delivery.
Delivery location is one of the most important aspects of last-mile delivery. Rural areas have greater distances between delivery locations, and companies may have to cover vast distances just to deliver a few packages.
With cities, locations are close together, but traffic will inevitably slow the process down. A challenge will likely present itself in every location, emphasizing the need for advanced technology and thorough planning to increase efficiency and prepare for those challenges.
The company’s size will also present unique challenges. With big companies taking in tremendous order volumes each day, they’ll have to juggle routes and orders to get packages to their destinations as soon as possible. On the other hand, smaller companies have to weigh the cost-benefits of delivering fewer packages against total profits.
Companies that use last-mile delivery come in many sizes, but they’re all looking for relatively the same thing — optimizing their deliveries for maximum efficiency.
You might be seeing a trend with these last-mile delivery challenges. From the vast areas covered in rural areas to the heavy traffic of cities to the order volume, there’s one central theme with each of these aspects — route design. Designing and optimizing routes for the best possible efficiency is a key part of last-mile delivery. With the best delivery routes, companies can reap profits while satisfying customers.
Although companies can try to plan ahead as much as they can, there is always a certain level of unpredictability with last-mile delivery, such as:
Bad weather: A sudden rainstorm or blizzard can pose an issue for last-mile deliveries — drivers might have to pull over and wait until the weather passes.
Traffic surges: Accidents happen, causing sudden surges in traffic and gridlocked streets. In cities, this can be a particularly costly issue.
Vehicle issues: Flat tires and an assortment of other vehicle issues could cause a truck to stop dead in its tracks, lengthening travel time.
That final leg of the shipment journey is filled with these kinds of unpredictable factors. Some, however, can be mitigated with optimized strategies.
Companies that outsource last-mile delivery to a reliable delivery business, for instance, will probably be in a better spot to absorb this unpredictability. When you have a flexible partner taking care of the last leg, you can trust they’ll adapt to the situation quickly and handle sudden changes with experienced hands.
Last-mile delivery is one of the most costly parts of the shipping process. Free shipping has become the new normal for customers everywhere, sometimes causing companies to eat the bill. With this increasingly common phenomenon and previously mentioned challenges, the need for innovation and better efficiency in this last segment of the shipment journey is becoming clear.
The Latest Trends in Last-Mile Delivery
To save money and improve efficiency, companies are looking at many ways to make last-mile delivery effective. Some of these ideas focus on promoting customer loyalty, while others seek to make distribution itself easier.
Here are some recent last-mile delivery trends.
Customers want to know where their package is at all times. With smart technology, the entire delivery process has become transparent, allowing customers to follow their package along its whole journey. Soon, innovative sensors inside packages may even let customers know their product’s temperature and humidity — important for deliveries such as food or medicine.
During the complex process of last-mile delivery, this smart technology can give the customer comfort. With a transparent look into the delivery, individuals may feel more inclined to order from that company again.
Companies have also started building new warehouses to ease the delivery process. The more warehouses a company has, the more easily it can stock up on inventory and be ready when an order is placed. This approach will reduce wasted time and improve efficiency when last-mile delivery comes into play. Amazon has taken full advantage of this strategy, building thousands of new warehouses across the country.
Many companies are specifically targeting urban warehouses as well so that they have easier access to a huge volume of customers. With major warehouses in a heavily populated area, businesses can offer one-day or even same-day shipping to thousands.
Some companies have started using artificial intelligence to examine trends and see when there might be a spike in demand for a particular product. During national sports events, for example, a company might decide to stock up on certain products in a specific location to get ready for those shipments. Having a supply at the ready could smooth out multiple areas of the shipping process and make that last-mile delivery get there in time.
Artificial intelligence can predict those trends and help companies make educated decisions about the demand for certain products.
With the intricate details involved in the last-mile delivery process, it usually just isn’t cost-effective for companies to execute these deliveries on their own. They often find an independent company that can take care of that stage of the journey.
The challenging part might be finding a business you can trust. Many delivery companies are using advanced technology and intricate route planning to improve efficiency. For enterprises looking to get a leg up on their competition and satisfy customers, those types of logistics partners could offer the perfect fit.
The Benefits of Optimizing Last-Mile Delivery Services
The latest trends in last-mile delivery services can be effective, and with the right execution, they can help boost productivity and make a delivery process more efficient. It’s important to look at the reasons why many businesses are spending massive amounts of time and energy to find innovative ways to solve last-mile delivery issues.
With the right optimization techniques, you can reap the many benefits of efficient last-mile delivery.
Enhanced Customer Satisfaction
Customer experience is key with shipments. In that last stretch of the delivery service, you could make or break a customer’s experience. With optimized, efficient last-mile shipping, you can get packages to your customers swiftly. In turn, your consumers will be satisfied, and you can boost their loyalty.
Last-mile delivery services can be costly. With all the various factors in play, the line of profit could start to grow thin. With an optimized delivery process, you’ll have more control and be confident in the strategy you’ve crafted. You can face challenges more effectively, decreasing wasted time and high costs.
Overall, last-mile optimization will increase your company’s overall efficiency. Since that last stretch from warehouse to doorstep is so complex and integral to the entire shipping process, an optimized plan will do wonders for your company’s effectiveness at delivering goods. Increase customer satisfaction, reduce costs and boost productivity with optimization.
Talking about these benefits is one thing, but you might be wondering about some actionable steps you can take to make them become a reality.
How to Plan a Successful Last-Mile Delivery
Though last-mile delivery is complex, there are ways to simplify the process. With advanced technology, route planning and help from a great delivery company, you can craft an effective, optimized last-mile delivery strategy.
Communication within an organization is important, and with deliveries, communication with the customer is becoming even more essential. Texts, emails and shipping updates are all ways to communicate with a customer. This transparent access to the delivery process ensures a customer isn’t left in the dark and lets them know exactly where their package is at all times.
With packages containing valuable items, providing clarity and an easy connection becomes even more important to delivery.
Route planning is integral to the success of any last-mile delivery. Planning and designing the ideal route will ensure you’ve optimized your drivers’ journey for the most efficient experience possible. Optimized routes prevent prolonged journeys in rural areas and defend against traffic in urban sprawls. By focusing on delivery planning factors like time of day, vehicle capacity and the distance between stops, you can craft a cost-effective route.
Innovative technology can assist you with the last-mile delivery process. Software and AI can now help optimize deliveries and predict a variety of different factors while drivers are on the road. From providing streamlined communication to shipping logistics that can help you effectively plan routes, it’s clear that these types of technology will only continue to become more relevant in the shipping world.
Quality Delivery Companies
Outsourcing your last-mile deliveries is one of the best ways to protect against high costs and stay efficient. Even with all of the above strategies, you’ll likely need some help with execution.
An experienced, reliable delivery company can use advanced technology to plan routes and help you satisfy your customers. The last leg of delivery can be challenging, but enlisting some help from a quality courier will take some pressure off your shoulders.
Work With Street Fleet for Last-Mile Delivery
Street Fleet is the perfect company for your last-mile delivery needs. As an industry leader, we know what it takes to do a quality job for our clients. When you work with us, you’ll receive many benefits, including:
Reliability: Our team is full of courteous professionals who understand that they’ll be representing our clients. Our drivers have the specialized qualifications for all your delivery needs, and our expert team is ready to answer any lingering questions you may have.
Cost-effectiveness: We have the flexibility to adapt our fleet size to your specific needs. Whether you’re looking at a large volume of orders or something smaller, we can fit your scale and reduce any overhead costs you might otherwise have to absorb.
Innovative technology: Our fully-integrated IT solutions give us unique abilities to optimize our deliveries. We also have tracking capabilities that allow you to transparently see where your packages are in during delivery. Our process is fully transparent, giving you comforting visibility from beginning to end.
Customization: Our team is ready at all times. From urgent deliveries on-demand to recurring shipments, we are ready to answer the call and satisfy your customers. You can customize your delivery process exactly as you want, and we’ll follow through with the execution.
With these benefits, you can gain some confidence in last-mile delivery. Reduce costs, improve efficiency and gain control over your orders by working with Street Fleet.
Contact Street Fleet Today
Location, volume, route planning and more — there’s a lot to consider with last-mile delivery. Thankfully, you can make that process easier and get help from an experienced industry leader to ensure orders get to all your customers safely and on time.
Street Fleet is here to offer you our unique experience in the courier industry. Using advanced technology, a professional team and effective route planning, we can fulfill your requests and help you build customer loyalty. Create your account and start optimizing your last-mile delivery strategy today!
As the shipping process becomes more complex, managers are looking for innovative ways to minimize costs and make operations as efficient as possible. One key aspect of the delivery process is warehouse storage. Storing inventory before shipping presents a challenge for many companies.
While renting an entire warehouse can be beneficial to have control over your operations, it usually isn’t cost-effective for a majority of companies. Instead, businesses can lease warehouses from an individual service, leading to the rise of contract warehousing.
In this article, we’ll break down what contract warehousing is, the various types and its benefits and disadvantages.
What Is a Contract Warehouse?
When a company agrees to contract lease warehousing, they lease a storage warehouse from an independent company that lets them use their space. This independent company handles storage operations and sometimes offers additional specialized services like fulfillment.
The agreed-upon contract outlines a specific period of storage, which usually lasts a couple of years or more. As companies look to reduce costs and use convenience to their advantage, contract warehousing is becoming more popular and attractive to companies.
What Is the Difference Between Contract Warehousing and 3PL?
Contract warehousing often gets confused with third-party logistics (3PL). Though similar, there are some key differences.
While contract warehousing focuses primarily on storage, 3PL delves into fulfillment. Companies use contract warehousing to house supplies — these are facilities used for merchandise that will be stored for an extended period of time. On the other hand, fulfillment centers briefly house merchandise before being sent to the customer. 3PL services usually involve fulfillment centers to make sure shipments operate efficiently.
In basic terms, contract warehousing is different from 3PL warehousing because of its functions — contract warehousing is for storage while 3PL is meant for fulfillment.
Types of Warehousing
Warehousing can be split up into three main types — private, public and contract. Each has unique characteristics:
Private: A company rents and uses the entirety of a warehouse building for a select amount of time. The company is responsible for all operations and inventory management. While this gives control to a company, it is also highly expensive and an extremely involved undertaking.
Public: In this scenario, the warehouse is shared among various companies. Instead of paying for a set amount of time or space, a company usually pays a monthly bill based on the amount of volume the company gets. This is more cost-effective than private warehouses but usually only used for brief periods like seasonal inventory.
Contract: This type’s function is reflected in its name. Contract or dedicated warehousing is just that — a warehouse dedicated to one client. While an independent company runs and operates the warehouse, they’re devoted to one company for a contractual amount of time.
Although each type has pros and cons, contract warehousing is an attractive option for many companies because of its convenience and cost-efficiency.
Benefits of Contract Warehousing
Companies see contract warehousing as a legitimate way to help their operations. Here are some of the benefits of contract warehousing:
Cost-Efficiency: Concerning price, the benefits of contract warehousing compared to private warehousing are clear. You usually have to pay per square foot for warehouse space, and when dealing with the sheer space of a facility, that price could easily rise high. Much of that cost per square foot depends on geography, but you’ll likely still be looking at a high price tag. Contract warehouses are the perfect option for midsize companies looking to increase profits without sacrificing efficiency.
Convenience: Contract warehousing is also very convenient. Instead of expending time putting together a team and figuring out the complex details of storing inventory, you can turn it over to an experienced team who knows exactly what they’re doing.
Specialization: The independent company controlling warehouse operations is solely dedicated to one company, meaning they can specialize to your unique inventory and make sure it’s getting the proper care it needs. You get the convenience of having an independent company to oversee operations while still retaining that specialization.
Reliability: When you find the right company to care for your inventory, you also get a sense of reliability. An experienced, specialized team oversees your merchandise at all times — that’s something that will give you confidence in your operations.
Disadvantages of Contract Warehousing
From cost-efficiency to reliability, it’s clear that contract warehousing offers many benefits. When it comes to shipping and deliveries, it’s important to look at all the pros and cons to see how it will affect the company.
While contract warehousing offers many benefits, there are also a couple of disadvantages to know.
Lack of Total Control
The main drawback of contract warehousing is that you won’t have total control over the facility. Instead of completely taking over operations, you’re putting trust into the hands of an independent company to oversee and store your inventory.
While this means you’ll sacrifice some level of control over your operations, it also means you’ll spend less time, energy and money assembling a team to operate the facility.
Finding the Right Company
When you decide to contract a warehouse, the most challenging part might be trusting the independent company to oversee your operations. You haven’t trained them, after all, so you’ll want to find a reliable, experienced team you can trust to do quality work.
The cons of contract warehousing are something to consider. When stacked against their many benefits, those disadvantages look very manageable. If you know where to look to find the right company, you can entirely eliminate one of these disadvantages.
Work With Street Fleet
When you need a company to handle your warehouse needs, you should work with Street Fleet. Street Fleet offers an experienced, professional team who can solve your storage needs and more, including:
Warehousing: Small and midsize businesses need a cost-efficient way to store merchandise. Street Fleet offers a 30,000 warehouse facility complete with cameras and alarms to ensure your inventory is protected at all times.
Fulfillment: Street Fleet also offers fulfillment services, ensuring timely and professional orders. We handle your external orders and give you convenience and reliability during the shipping process.
Cross-Dock: Many companies utilize cross-docking to improve efficiency. It reduces surplus inventory and shortens delivery times. It also requires a lot of planning — that’s where Street Fleet comes in. We’ll plan and maintain cross-docking tactics, so you can spend time on other pursuits.
Street Fleet is the comprehensive, reliable company with the services you need. Create an account and start improving efficiency today!
While last-mile delivery has always been an essential aspect of the product delivery process, it’s grown even more important in the wake of COVID-19. The last mile in a supply chain describes the final leg of the delivery journey, moving goods from their transportation hub to their final destination. Strategic organization of the last mile contributes to overall customer satisfaction and successful deliveries.
Last-mile delivery during COVID-19 became more complicated than it was in years past. Social distancing efforts and safety concerns caused delivery demands to skyrocket. Consumer behavioral changes resulting from the pandemic may be long-lasting, so businesses have to respond proactively.
Top 4 Challenges Caused by COVID-19
COVID-19 resulted in unique last-mile delivery challenges. Businesses have had to find ways to meet increased demands with long-term solutions. Additionally, the landscape is different than it was when last-mile deliveries first became popular. Companies that already had last-mile delivery services in place needed to focus on scaling up, while those without worked toward creating workable solutions.
Here are a few of the challenges facing last-mile deliveries due to COVID-19.
1. Safety Concerns
COVID-19 raised new safety concerns regarding dining, travel and leisure. For example, some consumers became wary about going to their local grocery store, so delivery services for groceries expanded. In addition, travel restrictions and essential-only travel mandates encouraged consumers to opt for delivery rather than product pickup.
At the same time, companies needed to prioritize employee safety and put measures in place to protect last-mile delivery personnel.
2. Shifts in Behaviors and Trends
Consumer behaviors and attitudes changed during COVID-19 due to safety precautions and fears. Shoppers became more likely to request product delivery within a reasonable driving distance, increasing last-mile deliveries numbers.
For example, many restaurant patrons are now more likely to order from home and in-person dining has been inconsistently available due to lockdowns in many locations throughout the country. Even with in-person dining permitted, restaurants had to prepare for increased delivery requests and to-go orders.
3. Customer Service
Maintaining high-quality customer service has been a challenge during the pandemic. Businesses have had to focus on providing timely and positive delivery experiences, including businesses that have never had to do so before. Even those with last-mile delivery familiarity needed to adjust to higher volumes while maintaining reputable customer service.
Meeting the demands of these changing consumer behaviors, safety concerns and customer service challenges contributed to a major logistical challenge. Such massive shifts in last-mile deliveries are a significant factor for supply chains — the final mile of the supply chain accounts for about 40% of total global logistic costs. A careful and critical approach to these changes is necessary for any business.
Last-mile delivery logistics solutions are vital to a business’s bottom line since the final leg is the most logistically challenging and expensive. For some companies, the concern is a new one.
4 Industries Seeing Shifts in the Last Mile
The most significant final mile delivery change after COVID-19 is the sheer number of industries affected. Some impacted industries have never had to consider the question of final-mile delivery before. Minimal delivery opportunities were available for these businesses in the past, so they’re approaching new territory.
1. Food Delivery
Since everyone needs access to food every day, the food delivery industry has seen some of the most dramatic shifts. While some restaurants have always offered delivery services, others have had to adjust. For many, a personnel shortage meant partnerships with third-party delivery services were necessary.
In addition to restaurant meals, consumers also need delivery for everyday grocery items. COVID-19 has kept many people homebound at some point during the pandemic. As of August 2019, only 52% of grocery stores in the U.S. offered home delivery or store pickup. By May of 2020, online grocery delivery web searches increased by 202%. During that time, grocery delivery and pickup sales grew from $1.2 billion to $7.2 billion.
Grocery delivery and store pickup have become staple offerings across the board. While the pandemic may temporarily shift some demands, stores that can offer delivery or pickup may still have a competitive advantage in the future.
2. Home Care
COVID-19 also increased the demand for in-home medical care. Hospitals, nursing homes and care facilities became overpopulated due to COVID-19 cases, and many remain overwhelmed beyond the height of the pandemic. Even if a lack of beds was not a concern, some individuals sought to avoid medical care facilities to protect themselves from potential exposure in a busy facility.
E-commerce for care, medicine and other medical necessities grew during the pandemic. Last-mile delivery opportunities for pharmacies and similar businesses have grown in scope and significance, and those able to adapt may be able to take advantage of a niche market in the future.
COVID-19 restricted the availability of many out-of-home entertainment options, such as movie theaters. With entertainment options limited, e-commerce for entertainment-related products has also grown. Consumers are now more likely to seek home delivery of entertainment products.
4. Household and Personal Care Items
The pandemic also saw a surge in deliveries of household essentials and personal care items — the kind of small, inexpensive products consumers used to pick up from local convenience and grocery stores.
Businesses have had to make careful choices regarding delivery expenses for such items. Since they’re inexpensive on their own, delivery fees are more noticeable. Companies have had to balance their goals to earn profits with their need to satisfy customers.
Structural Changes to Last Mile After COVID-19
COVID-19-driven changes in e-commerce and delivery have generated massive structural shifts in last-mile deliveries. Here are some of the ways last-mile delivery technology has changed:
Increased demand: The increase in demand for delivered products has impacted countless businesses across various industries. Companies built for delivery service have had to meet the logistical challenge of swelling demand.
Expanded demand variety: In addition, COVID-19 has led to a greater range of product types requiring delivery. Consumers are purchasing a wider array of products online, including small, inexpensive products available nearby.
Emphasis on environmentalism: As you can imagine, a massive increase in product demand could have serious environmental consequences. As a result, numerous companies have committed to decreasing delivery-related carbon emissions. One way to do so is to use a bicycle delivery service for short-distance final-mile deliveries. Doing so can cut back on unnecessary emissions.
Emphasis on logistics: The shifting consumer trends have caused businesses to put more emphasis on last-mile logistics. Reliance on third-party logistics or 3PL companies with first- to final-mile expertise has grown. These companies can help simplify deliveries with valuable insights and services.
Last Mile for Safely Transporting Vaccines
While last-mile delivery has grown more popular for things like sandwiches and bottles of soap, it has also served a more important purpose — last-mile delivery has become an essential aspect of secure vaccine transport. Equitable and timely accessibility to COVID-19 vaccines is a global concern. Vaccine transport presents a few unique challenges, such as:
Cold storage: Vaccines require temperature-regulated storage. For instance, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine calls for ultra-cold storage. It must be so cold — minus 130 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit — that dry ice is necessary. The need for reliable cold storage complicates delivery efforts.
Second doses: Patients who receive Pfizer or Moderna vaccines must get a second dose to strengthen their immunity. However, simultaneous delivery of both doses is not an option, as a three- to four-week interval must occur between doses. Ensuring everyone gets a second dose in the right time frame is another logistical challenge.
Booster doses: Another issue is the need for booster doses after initial vaccinations. A booster dose should occur six months after the first two doses.
Future of Last Mile
Last-mile deliveries were subject to many changes in the wake of COVID-19. Some changes may persist in years to come. Adaptability and technological advances will be future priorities for any business offering last-mile deliveries. Maintaining the long-standing status quo will no longer be a viable option — instead, companies will have to develop innovative solutions to address last-mile delivery concerns.
Use Street Fleet for Your Last Mile Needs
COVID-19 has made last-mile deliveries more significant than ever before. Companies are facing new challenges and massive structural changes. How companies respond to these shifts could impact future success and growth. If you’re looking for a solution to address last-mile delivery needs, consider Street Fleet.
Street Fleet is a full-service delivery company with over 300 drivers and vehicles to meet your unique needs. We offer everything from dock trucks to bicycles, and we’re sure to have the most cost-effective and reliable solution for your delivery needs. Learn more about Street Fleet’s final-mile delivery capabilities when you contact us for additional information or create an account today.
When a customer orders a product from your business, the relationship between you and that customer hinges on a seamless delivery. You put a lot of trust in the hands of the delivery service you hire to transport your customer’s order, so it’s important to choose the right one.
Choosing a courier service with the right qualities will strengthen your relationship with your clientele and boost your business short- and long-term. But do you know how to choose the best courier service for your business?
What to Look for in a Courier Service
Before hiring a courier service, you should compare different companies for how they’ll meet your business and customers’ needs. Keep the following factors in mind.
Considering price is essential when investigating different courier services. Do they offer rates that make sense for your business? Do they offer different pricing options for customers who need same-day delivery? Look for a delivery team that gives your customers options and saves you money down the road.
Is the courier service available to pick up and deliver your package as you need on an on-demand or recurring delivery basis? Many companies will work with you for delayed delivery, but if you need something picked up as soon as possible, you want to be sure the courier is prepared to accommodate that.
Your time is valuable. As you browse courier services, pay attention to the ones with the most intuitive websites that make it easy to set up an account and talk with customer representatives if necessary. A good delivery team will make it as natural as possible for you to start using their services.
4. Size or Material Limitations
Not every fleet is built the same. Can the courier service adjust for the size of your products? Your larger orders may call for a whole dock truck, but if you’re selling smaller products, it may make more sense to use a smaller vehicle to skip traffic or a lengthy delivery list. Look for a fleet that can handle a wide range of deliveries.
Material limitations can also come into play. If you have occasional or regular shipping that requires the company to follow certain HAZMAT regulations, it’s important to make sure they have those clearances. Shipping lab specimens and other medical equipment is one example.
5. Tracking and Proof of Delivery
Your customers will appreciate the ability to monitor their orders, so choose a courier service with tracking capabilities. This added perk goes a long way toward strengthening the relationship between your and your customers. For added security, look for a courier that will notify you when they’ve completed your customer’s delivery.
Do a deep dive into each courier service’s reputation with the public. Are they known for making speedy deliveries? Do they have a courteous, professional team? Hire a courier service that will best represent your company.
7. Delivery Radius
Does the courier service deliver to your entire customer base? Some businesses may need national or global delivery services, while other local businesses may be better off with a local courier. Look into the areas different delivery teams cover to ensure they’ll reach as many of your customers as possible.
Street Fleet: The Best Courier Service in Minnesota
For reliable delivery services in the Twin Cities, trust Street Fleet Courier and Logistics to deliver your customer’s order on time any day of the week. Our fleet of dock trucks, vans, cars and bikes can handle orders of any size for a speedy delivery anywhere in Minneapolis or St. Paul. Give us a call at 612-623-9999 or create an account to connect your business with Street Fleet today!
As a small business owner, you’re bound to have a roll-up-your-sleeves and do-it-yourself attitude. When it comes to shipping products, however, it’s a good idea to outsource to a dedicated shipping company. Buyers today expect quick delivery of undamaged goods — this is the only way to ensure first-time customers become repeat customers.
With so many third-party shipping options, it can seem overwhelming to decide on the best way to ship for a small business. Think about your business’s geographic scope, the speed at which you need products to ship, and the nature of your products. Then compare the different shipping methods for small businesses.
How to Ship Products: What Is the Best Way to Ship Products for Small Businesses?
If you’re wondering how to ship products to customers, here are a few popular methods. Each has its pros and cons, so consider several options for your business. Different methods are best depending on the size of products, the frequency of delivery needs and the shipping distance. For most local businesses with limited shipping-distance needs, a local courier will be the best choice.
United States Postal Service (USPS)
The USPS is an obvious option for domestic product shipping. They have direct access to mailboxes and post office boxes and offer decent pricing. This is a good option for a small business with only occasional shipping needs and lightweight products.
However, the USPS is not the best option if your business ships products regularly, if you sell bulky or heavy products or if you want to offer expedited shipping. Priority Mail envelopes and boxes can take several days to arrive, and the USPS can take over a week to complete a delivery.
National Delivery Companies
A national carrier such as the United Parcel Service (UPS) or FedEx is likely less expensive than USPS for larger products. Keep in mind that UPS does not offer flat rate shipping, which would be a great benefit if your products vary in weight. However, UPS can also take a full week to deliver products, only transporting parcels on business days. FedEx offers flat rate shipping and slightly faster shipping speeds.
If your products tend to be small, flat rates can actually inflate your shipping costs, so consider the sizes of your average products.
Local Courier: Street Fleet
For local shipping, a local courier is the best choice. With a local shipping company like Street Fleet, you’ll have your own account for placing delivery orders, which will take much of the stress of shipping out of your hands. In addition to on-demand delivery, you can order a scheduled delivery service to occur weekly, monthly or even hourly.
You can also choose the right vehicle and shipping speed to fit your company’s needs. Only use a national delivery company if you need to ship overseas or across multiple state lines. Otherwise, a local courier is one of the best shipping options for small businesses.
Which Shipping Carrier Is Best for You?
When deciding how to ship for your small business, consider several factors. You should think about:
The dimensions and weight of your products: Do you sell dainty handmade jewelry or full-sized vacuum cleaners? The size of your products should make a difference in the shipping method you choose. Using a third-party shipping company can decrease expenses compared to completing deliveries with your own vehicles and employees — expenses like employee wages and vehicle maintenance will be out of your hands. However, shipping companies charge based on parcel size and weight, so heavier, bulkier products will be more expensive to ship.
The speed you want products delivered: In the era of same-day shipping, some shoppers have become less patient. Of course, the speed of your delivery will depend on the distance and method of transport, but you should think about how fast you want your products to ship when deciding on a carrier. The most economic, environmentally friendly and prompt delivery option for hyper-local shipping is a delivery service by bicycle.
The nature of your products: Think about the products you need to deliver. Are they hazardous or perishable? If so, this may increase the price of delivery. Since food items require insulated and secure packaging, you may face premium charges. For drugs and other sensitive medical supplies, you’ll need a delivery company with a dedicated medical services division.
The frequency of your shipping needs: If you have a storefront and only plan on shipping occasionally, you’ll probably prefer an on-demand delivery service. For an e-commerce business with regular shipping needs, it’s best to pair with a carrier that offers dedicated delivery services to act as a delivery branch for your business.
The required distance for deliveries: Think about where your customers can order from and how far you’re willing to deliver. The farther the delivery, the more expensive and time-consuming it will be. If you plan to ship internationally, you may not be able to promise extremely fast shipping. If you choose to ship overseas, keep in mind that shipping by air is much faster than shipping by water. Provide an honest estimated arrival date and time at checkout so customers will know when to expect their products.
Best Shipping Service for Small Business: Street Fleet in Minnesota
For businesses in Minnesota and surrounding states, there is no option better than Street Fleet. If you’re wondering how to ship products from your home business or local storefront, Street Fleet offers a wide variety of options tailored to your specifications.
You can choose from several different shipping methods to ensure you get exactly what your business needs — the level of customization is much higher than what you’d find with a national chain. You can choose from delivery by bicycle, small car or truck. Whether you’re delivering an envelope or an entire pallet, Street Fleet has options for you.
For the delivery of time-sensitive products like food items, our bicycle messengers are a uniquely effective option. When it comes to quick, local delivery, no method is faster than a bicycle. Or, if you need pharmaceuticals sent to a patient’s home, choose our specialized medical delivery service, which features certified HAZMAT handlers.
No matter what you need to be delivered or where you need it to be, Street Fleet drivers are all professional, friendly and uniformed and excel at representing private labels. When you use a national delivery chain, you have no idea who your delivery driver will be or what kind of experience they will create for your customers.
As you probably know if you’ve ever purchased something online, an irresponsible or unfriendly delivery driver can ruin the purchase experience for a customer. Meanwhile, a knowledgeable, courteous driver will elevate your customer’s impression of your brand by treating products with care. This will build your credibility and memorability.
Additionally, when it comes to urgent deliveries, Street Fleet is the best choice. With over 300 drivers, we can accommodate urgency requests of under one hour, 90 minutes, two to three hours or same-day. Unlike most national delivery chains, our services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Use Street Fleet for Your Small Business Product Shipping
If you run a small, local business, delivery is likely a necessity at one point or another. Whether your business is primarily e-commerce or you’re just beginning to offer delivery, choose a service tailored to your specific needs. Only Street Fleet offers product shipping with so many customizable options, from vehicle type to urgency level to material expertise. Set up an account with Street Fleet today and start tracking your orders!
Whether you’re an e-commerce store, a distributor or an independent creator, shipping products is an essential part of your business. Your customers expect their products to arrive on time and in good condition. On your end, that means you must package your products correctly to protect them during transit. Besides adding protection, packaging can add value to your brand and make receiving a package more fun with graphic designs or even a handwritten note.
It’s also essential to prepare your products for shipment to customers. Using the proper labeling and working with the right carrier can help you save on your shipping costs and make sure everything arrives as expected. Check out our shipping guide for tips and advice on all your packing and shipping activities.
How to Package Products
Knowing how to protect items when shipping requires thorough knowledge of product packaging. It involves designing and producing a visually appealing and protective container for your products, encompassing three parts. The product packaging contains the product itself and is usually branded. For example, if your product is perfume, the glass bottle with the branded label is the product packaging. The outer packaging protects the product during shipment. It’s often a rectangular cardboard box, flat shipping envelope or mailer bag.
The inner packaging is everything that goes inside the outer packaging. You might ship a bundle of three perfumes in a decorative box branded to your company. The internal packaging also includes the packing materials, whether shredded paper, packing peanuts or bubble wrap. If you ship a business card or promotional coupon with the order, that is also part of the inner packaging.
Before you package your products, it’s essential to evaluate them on three characteristics:
Weight: You’ll need packaging strong enough to hold whatever’s inside. Heavier items often need multilayered corrugation, while light items can ship in bags.
Size and shape: When packaging any product, the edges should not touch the outer packaging. Consider your product’s size and shape, and choose a box or mailer that is large enough for both the product and cushioning material.
Value and fragility: Valuables and breakables need extra protection in transit. The box should also have a label that says “fragile” and possibly an arrow pointing out which way to stow and handle the container.
How to Package Small to Medium-Sized Products
Most small businesses packing and shipping supplies and products have parcels that are considered small or medium. From candles to cosmetics to smartphones, many everyday consumer goods are easy to pack. Smaller products require fewer logistical considerations. Still, it’s critical to know how to protect small products during shipping. If your product can be considered small or even medium, follow these packaging tips for product containment and distribution:
1. Choose Your Packaging Type
Your package may pass through many different hands and pieces of equipment en route to its final destination. It’s crucial to select a packaging material that will protect your product and hold up during transport. For small products, you typically have three options:
Corrugated cardboard boxes: Cardboard is sturdy and lightweight, meaning it can protect your product without adding to your shipping weight. Out of all the products that get shipped, 90% are packed in cardboard because it’s considered safe.
Padded mailers: Padded mailers are generally for small, flat or delicate items. They’re excellent for jewelry, handmade items, books and electronics. They come with some built-in padding, which you can add to with some recycled paper or bubble wrap.
Shipping bags or envelopes: A polyurethane bag or plastic envelope is strong and lightweight. They’re also self-sealing, which can streamline packaging operations. Like mailers, they’re best for smaller items.
2. Decide Whether to Customize
For a budding e-commerce store or an independent crafter, custom packaging can differentiate your brand and give your products a boutique-like experience. A beautiful package can also give you some free advertising, as customers will enjoy posting unboxing videos on their social media feeds. Plus, 55% of online shoppers will come back to a website if their order arrives in customized packaging.
If you choose to brand your packaging, you’ll need to work with a designer and packaging supplier. If you can’t customize your entire box, consider adding a few affordable packaging products to spruce up your deliveries. Other ways to brand your packaging might include a branded sticker, a handwritten note, a promotional insert, branded packing tape or even a free gift.
3. Add Protective Filler
When your products need to hold up during shipping, you need to know how to pack boxes for shipping with the appropriate type and amount of padding. The protective cushioning is crucial to protecting your small items during shipping. Wrap each item separately so they will not bump into one another inside the box.
If the product is susceptible to moisture or dirt, put it inside a plastic bag for protection. Use at least 2 inches of cushioning around every side, and leave no empty space within the container. At the same time, avoid overstuffing it. Adding too much filler could cause the box or bag to burst during shipping. You can choose from both traditional and eco-friendly package fillers, including:
Foam or cornstarch packing peanuts
Crumpled, crinkle-cut or shredded paper
Polyurethane foam inserts
4. Seal the Package
If you’re using a polyurethane bag, it should come with an adhesive strip. Ensure your bag is completely sealed to prevent it from opening in transit. If your packaging doesn’t self-seal, use packing tape at least 2 inches wide and strong enough to contain whatever’s in your parcel. If sealing a box, use the H-taping method. This technique involves first sealing down the flaps and then the edges, so the tape creates an H pattern. Tape both the bottom and top seams of the box, and make sure the tape can adequately support any heavy items.
5. Consider the Box-in-Box Method
After wrapping up and sealing your small package, you might want to place it inside a larger box with more filler material. While most shipments won’t need this added protection, a fragile or valuable product will benefit from the extra layer.
To use this method, first prepare your inner box. Your outer box should be large enough to contain the inner box plus a 2-inch buffer of filler. Next, fill the base of the outer box with filler material, like packing peanuts. Place your inner container inside, and then add the rest of the filler material until the internal packaging is surrounded. Then, seal up the outer box as you did the inner box.
How to Package Large Products
Whether you’re shipping a refrigerator, a mattress or something else, you’ll need to take some extra precautions when packaging heavy or oversized items. Your larger products need protection from vibrations, accidental drops and compression from stacking during storage.
1. Find the Right Materials
A bag, envelope or padded mailer will be too small for your larger products. Instead, you’ll need a heavy-duty corrugated cardboard box. Look for one with several layers and seams that have been stitched or stapled rather than glued. Do not reuse an old box for a bulky item since you cannot guarantee its strength.
2. Add Filler
As with smaller products, larger items also need filler. However, when shipping heavy items, crumpled paper and lightweight cushioning won’t hold up. Instead, use engineered polystyrene foam shaped to house the product. Corrugated cardboard inserts can also cradle your item. As with smaller packages, aim for at least 2 inches of space on every side, so the product will not touch the box’s walls.
The double box method is also recommended for larger, heavier items, whenever possible.
3. Seal the Box
As with smaller boxes, you’ll need to seal the box around every edge with tape. In this case, you’ll use a few layers of heavy-duty tape. A fiberglass-reinforced, water-activated tape can bond to the cardboard, ensuring your box stays sealed through the entire trip.
4. Palletize if Needed
Larger products often have additional shipping packaging, like a pallet. A shipping pallet lets your shipping carrier load and unload your product using material handling equipment such as forklifts. A large palletized product might be shrink-wrapped or stretch-wrapped, which provides cushioning during transit and holds everything together. A palletized product could also be strapped down or secured in another fashion.
How to Pack Your Products for Shipping and Distribution
When shipping products to a distributor and for placement in stores, you’ll need to consider different packaging requirements. If your customer is a distributor, they could have requirements specific to how they operate, industry regulations and minimum order requirements. As the packager, you’ll pack individual products into cases based on your distributor’s required weight and quantity. Then, you’ll pack cases into pallets.
Your distributor will likely require specific pallet sizes and types to ensure it will fit their equipment. They will also set a maximum pallet height. Consider whether the distributor will be keeping the products stored in their inventory and what their storage conditions are.
It’s crucial to understand your distribution network and how your product and outer packaging will be travel throughout the supply chain. To design safe containment systems that will last through handling, transport and storage, consider factors such as:
The type and size of pallet.
Pallet stacking or storage configuration.
Specifications for maximum and minimum pallet heights and load weights.
Whether pallet stacking will use slip sheets, layer sheets or caps.
Whether a palletized load will be secured using stretch wrap, shrink wrap, corner posts or straps.
What types of shipping containers will be used, such as trays, boxes, crates or bins.
Required material properties, such as moisture resistance and break strength.
What type of protective filler is needed.
Considering every step in the shipping and distribution process and meeting every specification ensures your products will be protected and arrive at their final destinations in one piece. It will also help you avoid bottlenecks in the supply chain with packaging that fits in with existing warehousing and material handling methods.
How to Ship Products
Before you prepare your products for shipment, make sure they’re packed with the right shipping container, filler and a packing slip. Once you’ve decided how to pack your products for shipping, you can prepare for shipment. The finer details of your shipping preparations will depend on your chosen carrier’s shipping requirements. In general, the process will follow a few simple steps.
How to Ship Small to Medium-Sized Items
Once you’ve packed your small or medium items, you can prepare them for shipment. Follow these five e-commerce shipping tips.
1. Measure and Weigh Your Package
Once your products are in their final layer of packaging, you can figure out your shipping dimensions and the total weight. First, measure the length, width and height of your package. Multiply the three dimensions, and divide the number by the dimensional cubic divisor requested by your chosen carrier. This figure represents your package’s dimensional weight, sometimes abbreviated to Dim weight.
Next, weigh your package in pounds or ounces. In the logistics industry, this number is known as the package’s dead weight or actual weight.
2. Calculate Your Shipping Rates and Compare Carriers
Some shipping carriers will charge you by a package’s dimensional weight, meaning how much space it takes up in their truck. Other carriers might use your package’s dead weight. Still, others may take the larger of the two. Work with your carrier or a group of carriers you’re considering to calculate your shipping costs. You’ll provide the dimensional and actual weight alongside the origin and destination.
While comparing costs is essential, remember to look at the level of service a carrier will provide. If you need to meet an aggressive delivery deadline, you need a carrier with a record for on-time performance and the flexibility to meet your needs.
If shipping a small item locally, you might even choose a courier service that can deliver your item via bicycle or car. This impresses your customers, who receive their package on time, from the hands of a uniformed, professional representative. You also won’t pay for space in a large delivery van when a bicycle messenger can get there faster and more affordably.
3. Book Your Carrier
Once you’ve settled on a carrier whose prices and shipping guarantees make sense for your business, work with them to confirm your shipment. They’ll schedule your pickup and delivery or tell you where to bring your package.
4. Label and Send Your Package
Print out the shipping labels your carrier provides, and attach them to your packages using clear packing tape. Attach any other labels and stickers needed to transport your items safely. For example, you may need a special sticker if your product has a lithium battery or any hazmat materials. Then, you’re ready to send off your shipment.
How to Ship Large, Heavy Items
In some ways, shipping a large item isn’t much different from sending a small product. In general, you’ll follow the same process for how to ship heavy items. It starts with packaging the product, measuring it, calculating and comparing rates, booking your shipment and finally preparing it for pickup. However, when working with larger packages, your carrier may impose some more requirements. Your process will likely follow these three steps:
1. Check Your Oversized Package Requirements
Different carriers list different dimension and weight thresholds for packages to be considered oversized. Some carriers call a box oversized if it weighs more than 70 pounds or another weight threshold. Others will look at the package’s combined dimensions. For some carriers, anything over 130 inches will fit into the oversized category. As with small packages, you’ll need to measure and weigh your package to calculate your shipping rates.
If your package is considered oversized with your chosen carrier, you may need to follow special requirements. For example, you might be required not to reuse a corrugated box and ensure it will hold a certain weight. When you prepare your product for shipment, you may need to add a special caution sticker indicating the package’s weight so your package will receive the attention it deserves.
2. Review Shipping Options and Rates
If your package falls into the oversized range for your chosen carrier, you’ll have to pay additional shipping costs. You may even have to discuss special rates with your carrier for extremely large shipments that fall outside of standard oversized dimensions. Carriers who specialize in small packages will take oversized packages for an added fee. Other providers will deliver your parcel, classifying it as a freight shipment instead of regular delivery.
You can also choose a dedicated delivery service, like Street Fleet. With the dock trucks in our fleet, we can accommodate pallet-sized loads and get them delivered quickly. When shipping large items, it’s crucial to balance affordability with quality. Working with a courier ensures your products get delivered promptly by a uniformed driver. They’ll take the utmost care through the shipping process to prevent damage to your large, heavy and often valuable merchandise.
3. Confirm and Prepare Your Shipment
When you’re ready to proceed with a chosen carrier, you’ll book your order and follow your carrier’s instructions to prepare it for pickup or drop-off. Print out and attach your shipping labels and any required special labeling for your oversized packaging. Then, your package will be ready for the carrier.
How to Ship Fragile Items
If items arrive broken, you may have to worry about returns and potentially bad reviews and lost customers. That’s why it’s essential to know how to pack and ship fragile items. Most of the differences in your shipping approach have to do with packaging your fragile items. Pick the right size of box and wrap each item individually. Pack the items safely using at least 3 inches of cushioning as opposed to the usual 2 inches.
As you prepare your items for shipment following all carrier requirements, make sure you put the shipping label on the largest surface. This helps ensure your package will stay upright during shipping, protecting its contents. Adding a “fragile” sticker to the box can also remind personnel to handle your parcel with care.
Learn How Street Fleet Can Handle Your Business Deliveries
As a courier and delivery provider based in Minneapolis and St. Paul, we can get your deliveries anywhere in Minnesota and the neighboring states. With a fleet that ranges from bikes to dock trucks, we can deliver anything from your smallest envelope to a truckload of pallets. We have the necessary experience and certifications to transport medical, hazmat and financial packages, so we can ship any package, no matter the size or contents. We also specialize in timely deliveries and logistics solutions, with services that include:
With our competitive rates and 24-hour, year-round availability, you can rely on us to provide the service quality you need. If we can help you with a one-time delivery or your regular business shipments, contact us online or dial 612-623-9999 to start making your arrangements. If you’re ready to ship, place your order online today.