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5 Tips on Shipping Freight to Big Box Retailers

You did it — you've signed a vendor contract with a big box chain of stores. Congratulations! Shelf space in the big leagues can help increase sales and build brand recognition. When you're done fist-pumping, or passing the bubbly, or however you're celebrating, it's time for the next step: Plan how to ship freight to the distribution center.

Not sure where to start? Not a problem — we're on top of it. Worldwide Express works with small and medium-sized businesses whose goal is to make it in the big leagues. We've helped them figure out their shipping logistics, and we'll help you, too.

Align your freight shipping with big box supply chain requirements

Big box stores work with a lot of vendors. When it comes to shipping, it makes sense they'd have strict rules and guidelines. Their dos and don'ts help keep the pickup and drop-off process running smoothly for everyone. Use the following tips to know what to expect, what to watch out for and how to stay on their good side.

TIP #1 — Study their freight shipping guidelines and follow them closely.

Your vendor contract might require or strongly encourage you to:

  • Work with their preferred truckload (FTL) and less-than-truckload (LTL) freight carriers
  • Attend transportation training for carriers and shippers
  • Submit freight shipments through their portal
  • Scale your production and shipping to meet their fluctuating sales
  • Follow their shipping schedule and timelines

TIP #2 — Overcome bad habits when shipping to their distribution center.

Big box stores could charge you penalties for:

  • Not following shipping and handling instructions
  • Missing a scheduled delivery date or time, including delivering too early or later than your scheduled window
  • Not using their online portal to submit shipment information
  • Using the wrong bill of lading (BOL) form
  • Entering incorrect information on the BOL
  • Omitting critical BOL information, such as Purchase Order numbers or piece counts
  • Not following their packaging requirements

TIP #3 — Be prepared to pay accessorial fees.

Carriers won't cover additional expenses for shipments that take extra time or effort, so you can expect to pay accessorial fees if your deliveries require: Carriers could assess you accessorial fees for shipments that take extra time and effort, such as when they require:  

  • Saturday/weekend delivery or delivery during "off" hours
  • Detention at delivery
  • Incorrect or missing packing list
  • Unauthorized extra freight handling costs
  • Lumper service or sort-and-segregate service, particularly for shipments headed to food distribution or grocery warehouses

What is lumper service? Common to most grocery store chains, "lumpers" are laborers who are engaged through a third-party company (or, less commonly, as a self-employed agent) to load or unload goods at the dock. Distribution centers may augment their own staff with lumper services, and assess a fee to the carrier, which is passed on to you.

TIP #4 — Provide accurate details and keep your commitments for on-time delivery.

Big box stores' distribution centers can decline shipments that:

  • Don't match the bill of lading
  • Arrive late or early, outside the delivery window
  • Have more or fewer products than shown on the purchase order
  • Are labeled incorrectly
  • Are improperly packaged
  • Don't meet pallet size and condition requirements
  • Are delivered to the wrong location
  • Contain damaged products

Tip #5 — Partner with a reputable 3PL provider experienced in working with big box shipping contracts.

You've got enough to keep you busy without worrying about your shipping operations. Feel reassured knowing Worldwide Express can help you navigate:

  • Shipping carriers — You'll have access to more than 85,000 FTL and 65+ LTL carriers in our network, including many who offer expedited or guaranteed services for those last-minute fulfillment needs. Many are listed as preferred carriers for some of the largest big box stores in the country, and we vet each one to validate their high-quality service.
  • Compliance requirements — Large retailers have specific requirements for packaging, packing and labeling. Your WWEX logistics expert will help ensure your freight shipments are up to par.
  • Shipment tracking — Knowing where your shipments are in the warehouse and delivery route are even more important now that you're in the big leagues. One slip up with your freight shipments not arriving on time could cost you a financial penalty. A reputable 3PL will have reliable tracking systems to help you relax.
  • Reverse logistics — If your product doesn't sell, you could be on the hook to buy back the unsold merchandise. We'll help set up your return shipping and develop your reverse logistics strategy to recapture some of your product's value.
  • Scalable shipping operationsWe partner with you to understand your business and adjust your shipping services to accommodate for demand fluctuations.

Get expert 3PL guidance when your next big move is shipping freight to a distribution center

Keep your big box retailer relationship on the high note by letting us help you maneuver through the shipping process. Request a shipping consultation from Worldwide Express and learn more of how we can help grow your shipping.