By Laura J. Gisleson, LCB, CCS, Director USA Ocean Operations, DB Schenker.
By consolidating multiple consignments from different shippers into one container less-than-container load (LCL) freight provides a flexible and affordable option for a wide range of companies.
With more companies focused on importing and exporting smaller, more frequent shipments, the use of less-than-container load (LCL) freight options has increased exponentially. Using LCL, shippers pay only for the volume of space that their products take up in the container and effectively “bundle” their products with those of other shippers to attain economies of scale. This consolidation strategy not only helps companies save money, but it also ensures timely delivery, supports both inbound and outbound shipping, and helps preserve environmental resources.
If you’ve never used LCL, or if you’re looking for reasons to increase your company’s use of LCL freight, here are seven compelling reasons why you’ll want to start doing so today:
- You won’t have to wait for containers to fill up. Using LCL, you can keep the goods moving across your supply chain in a timely and predictable fashion. Even if you don’t have enough goods to fill a 20-foot container, you can “share” the space and cost with one or more other shippers, thus ensuring a timely import or export schedule.
- Meet the growing demands of omni-channel and e-commerce. In today’s fast-paced business environment, your customers want their orders delivered as quickly as possible. This “same-day” or “next-day” mindset is pushing more companies to consider LCL for its expediency. By tapping into LCL’s container-sharing opportunities, you can effectively meet your customers’ demands for smaller and more personalized orders.
- Spread costs across multiple shippers. With LCL, you’ll gain economies of scale that your company wouldn’t otherwise have access to. By joining one or more other companies that are in a similar position and unable to fill entire containers, you’ll save money while also leveraging the frequency and timeliness typically associated with full container load (FCL) shipments. At DBSCHENKERcombine, for example, we “bundle” shipments from different customers into a single shipment, manage and deliver that shipment, and then handle the container return process.
- Improve your inventory management processes. Because LCL allows you to order what you need now to replenish production lines, stock your warehouses, and fulfill orders, you can use this freight option to help reduce inventory and carrying costs. This, in turn, helps your company’s bottom line while also ensuring that customers get what they want and when they want it.
- Get end-to-end tracking and tracing for your LCL shipments. Don’t assume that you’ll have to sacrifice solid tracking and tracing because you’re sharing container space. Quite the contrary, in fact. At DBSCHENKERcombine, we provide end-to-end tracking and tracing capabilities right on our website, and for the entire lifecycle of your shipment.
- No worries about container return. When you use LCL shipping services, you don’t have to worry about returning the container post-delivery. Because you are sharing the container with other shippers, DBSCHENKERcombine handles this aspect of the process. In fact, there’s a good chance that we already have a return LCL trip booked for your container before it even reaches its destination, which means you need only be concerned with your own shipment.
- It’s part of our core business. For DB Schenker, LCL is not an afterthought to be outsourced to a third party; it’s part of our core business. As a shipper, you can be assured that we handle your LCL shipments from door-to-door, and only using our own containers. We take the time and trouble of consolidating in our warehouses, loading our own containers, de-vanning our own containers, and handling the entire process from point of origin right through to the destination.
Today’s shippers want to eliminate as much cost as possible from their supply chains, and LCL is an effective way of achieving this goal. At DBSCHENKERcombine, we ship over 2 million cubic meters of LCL freight annually and serve as a market leader in this arena. With more than 70 different warehouse locations throughout North America handling inbound shipment consolidations, and approximately 30 export receiving stations, we’re well equipped to manage a large volume of LCL shipments for a wide range of customers.