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March 17, 2022

Mistakes Merchants Make With Their Drayage and Transloading (And How To Solve Them)

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This blog post was originally published by Deliverr, which is now Flexport. The content has been adjusted to fit the Flexport brand voice and tone, but all other information remains unchanged. With the merging of Deliverr’s services (DTC fulfillment, B2B distribution, and Last Mile delivery) into Flexport’s existing international freight and technology services, we’re now able to provide merchants with true end-to-end logistics solutions spanning from the factory floor to the customer’s door.

Keeping up with increased demand from online shopping requires importing inventory from all over the world, every day. Finding ways to streamline this process can be tricky as ports grapple with increased traffic, a limited workforce, and inadequate infrastructure to accommodate an influx of shipments.

Fine-tuning your shipping practices to get freight moving is a complex task, especially relying on a team of providers to complete the process. From forwarding providers, brokers, and draymen, your business must find reputable partners that can help you reach rigorous business goals.

Below unpacks common mistakes merchants make with drayage and transloading that should be avoided. Read on to ensure you’re best set up for success!

Drayage and Transloading Explained

Shipping freight from overseas can be a logistical burden. Successfully transporting goods requires coordination between many entities, ensuring freight arrives intact, properly loaded, and is delivered to its final destination in a timely manner. 

Drayage takes a shipment that has arrived at a port and transports it to a destination, typically a warehouse near the port. Transloading unloads freight from one mode of transportation and reloads it to another. For example, taking goods from a shipping container and reloading them into a trailer for the next part of their journey to their final destination.

Five Mistakes Merchants Make With Their Drayage and Transloading

The drayage and transloading process is typically slow and very complex. Missteps along the way can cost you both time and money. Let’s take a look at five common mistakes merchants make and how a 3PL like Flexport can offer solutions to these complex problems.

1. Complications in Coordination

There are a lot of moving parts to get your shipment to arrive at the port and successfully unloaded and reloaded to move to its next destination. Clear communication is essential to make all of the parts work well beginning with the freight forwarder who will move the shipment to the port of entry.

Draymen need to be sourced (often through the freight forwarder) to get the goods from the port to the warehouse. Your team will also have to find a nearby warehouse with available space to offload your goods, coordinating with a freight broker to transload goods to be ready to depart for their final destination. A team of warehouse workers must also be acquired to make the transload possible. 

This progression through the drayage process relies on a great deal of coordination. If one area is missing, delayed, or underperforming, it sets off a chain reaction that costs your business time and money. 

2. Lack of Visibility During Shipment

Working with many providers throughout the shipment process means you rely on their ability to communicate to track goods. Unlike their own warehouse operation, many merchants lack visibility into their products during the offloading process. This makes it difficult to know where freight is and whether or not it will arrive on time.

If the providers you are working with aren’t communicating, you are left wondering where your freight is—if it’s sitting on a dock, being loaded for shipment, or has arrived at the warehouse. Because of the nature of this coordinated process, it can be difficult to feel like you have eyes on your shipment at all times.

This also makes it difficult to problem solve when delays arise. Partnering with providers who generate reliable tracking information and readily share such knowledge offers accountability for shipments throughout the process.

3. Underestimating the Time Factor

Determining the total transit time is challenging when you are dependent upon a bunch of individual pieces coming together. Delays can happen at any point during the shipping process. This is especially true among busy ports that deal with the congestion of increased imports from the boom of eCommerce.

Holdups also occur at warehouses, which prevents more imports from being picked up and leads to congestion at the yard. Transloading alone can take days, so partnering with reliable providers is crucial to expedite the process. Arrival times can be difficult to guarantee when you’re unsure where your inventory is located, lack tracking information, or don’t receive timely updates from providers. 

4. Failing To Communicate Early on With Providers

Failing to plan ahead results in stiff competition for experienced providers and transloading opportunities. Less efficient services can cost your business both in man-hours and revenue. Getting a jump start on transloading plans is the best way to guarantee access to top providers. 

When partnering with reliable providers, make them a part of the shipping process from the start. Their drayage expertise can help determine priority for when containers leave the port and solidify the logistics of getting freight organized for the next leg of the journey. Integrating services and communicating early can avoid miscommunications along the way, resulting in a reliable shipping experience. 

5. Using Only One Method for Transloading Instead of a Multimodal Approach

Retailers can get complacent when it comes to finding ways to deal with the laborious task of coordinating freight shipments from overseas. When your team finds something that works, it can be easy to rely on the same method for transloading, instead of looking at other opportunities to get the best price and fastest shipping available.

Merchants should consider the benefits of intermodal rail or domestic trucking options, or perhaps a combination of the two. As in all things eCommerce-related, flexibility can allow your team to find a more efficient, practical solution for your freight needs.

How To Solve the Complexities of Drayage and Transloading

Moving freight from ocean ports to their destination is a daunting task. Thankfully, third-party logistics operations can coordinate these imports to make this process more efficient. Here at Flexport, we offer drayage and transloading within our Trucking logistics service—a fast, affordable, and hassle-free solution for all your transportation needs.

Flexport’s Drayage and Transloading Freight model simplifies the complex process by taking on the responsibility of coordinating between freight forwarders, drayman, and warehouses. By doing so, we’re able to reduce your costs, cut out delays, and allow you to know where your shipments are during the process.

The contents of this blog are made available for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for any legal, business, or financial decisions. We do not guarantee, represent, or warrant the accuracy or reliability of any of the contents of this blog because they are based on Flexport’s current beliefs, expectations, and assumptions, about which there can be no assurance due to various anticipated and unanticipated events that may occur. This blog has been prepared to the best of Flexport’s knowledge and research; however, the information presented in this blog herein may not reflect the most current regulatory or industry developments. Neither Flexport nor its advisors or affiliates shall be liable for any losses that arise in any way due to the reliance on the contents contained in this blog.

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