It’s becoming increasingly difficult to run shipping operations at sustainable rates. Numerous new challenges have arisen in recent years, including the COVID outbreak and related disruptions, ongoing trucker shortages, and ever-increasing fuel prices. Any operation involved in shipping needs to be aggressively exploring data-driven options to cut costs while improving optimization – options such as zone skipping.
Zone skipping isn’t the right solution for every shipper, but in certain circumstances, it can bring considerable benefits to your operation.
What Is Zone Skipping?
Shipping cross-country is typically broken down into a series of zones, based on geographical regions. These will vary between operations, but for example, New England might be Zone 1, the Midwest is Zone 3, the California Coast is Zone 8, and so on. Zone skipping simply means moving product directly between two non-consecutive zones with no stops.
This is typically accomplished through pooled shipments. Rather than drop-shipping each individual order, all orders going to a particular zone are held and grouped until they fill a truckload. Then a single long-haul truck takes them all directly to that particular zone, where the shipments are ungrouped and sent out on shorter runs for final delivery.
The Importance of Data to Zone Skipping
Obviously, zone skipping will not be beneficial in all situations. If you only receive a few orders per week for Zone 7, for example, the amount of time it would take to fill a full truck would be excessive and result in delays. Shared LTL shipments would probably be the better option in that case.
To implement zone skipping correctly, an operation needs deep data collection so that it fully understands both its real-world shipping needs, as well as likely future needs based on trends. The efficacy of zone skipping also needs to be compared against existing shipment costs and times and should only be implemented when the data clearly points towards cost savings.
When done well, however, zone skipping can significantly reduce your overhead by reducing the number of trucks involved in each shipment. In many cases, it can even improve speeds on shipments or returns through greater optimization.
US Logistics Can Save You Money
We specialize in providing advanced data-driven shipping techniques to companies across the country, enhanced by our own cross-country network of depots. If your shipping costs are continuing to rise, with no clear path towards re-obtaining sustainability, contact US Logistics to consult on your options.