What Do You Mean By That?  Key Parcel Shipping Terms That Could Save (Or Cost) You Big

July 24, 2018 by Amware Fulfillment

Each year, the world’s most popular dictionaries make headlines when they announce their latest additions.  (And in case you’re curious, some of this year’s winners included hangry and mansplaining.)

It’s a huge reminder that our day-to-day vocabularies are constantly evolving – and that it’s always a good idea for everyone to be on the same page about what a commonly used expression means.

With apologies to Noah Webster, we’d like to do the same thing with this week’s blog.  But instead of adding new words, we’d like to call your attention to a few common parcel industry terms that often get underrated or underestimated, especially when it comes to your bottom line. 

Some have a positive connotation.  Others are probably enough to set your teeth on edge.  But all are hugely important for your company to remember as you work to lower the cost of your parcel shipping and contain your package handling spend.

parcel shippingAccessorial Charges.   The extra fees that parcel carriers charge in addition to their baseline prices.  Some of these fees help carriers offset the parcel shipping expense associated with providing extra services. Others allow carriers to protect – or pad – their profit margins when it comes to handling specific kinds of products or business.    Either way, they can quickly and easily add up to significant additional expense, especially for shippers who are unfamiliar with the ins and outs of parcel handling.  

Bundle.  A collection of services that, when purchased together, can make an eTailer eligible for lower cost shipping, service upgrades, or both.  Carriers like UPS and FedEx offer several examples of these, and some are worthy of consideration.  However, many bundles can wind up costing eTailers more than they’d pay if each service were purchased individually, so run the numbers carefully before signing on the dotted line.

DHL Smartmail.  A hybrid shipping service offered by DHL that relies on its network to carry packages while leaving the final mile delivery to the United States Postal Service.  This service is typically limited to shipments that weigh a maximum of 25 pounds. 

Dimensional Weight/Dim Weight.  What parcel shipping carriers think a package should weigh based on its exterior dimensions.  Since 2015, FedEx and UPS have used this measure to calculate shipping charges whenever a Dim Weight is greater than a package’s actual weight, which means that having lightweight cargo is no longer a guarantee of low-cost shipping. If you haven’t optimized your package sizes lately, you might be paying more than you should.

Dunnage.  The filler materials that are used inside parcels to keep contents safe and secure.   Because some forms of dunnage are considerably heavier and bulkier than others, they can impact a shipment’s final weight, size and overall expense, so it’s important to become familiar with all of the available options before committing to one in particular.

Polybag.  A cost-effective and highly-durable form of packaging that can often be used instead of a box.  Polybags allow companies to reduce the weight of each package by a few ounces while still accommodating and protecting products, which often makes them ideal for lightweight, non-fragile shipments. 

Residential Delivery Surcharge.  The extra expense associated with having a private carrier deliver items all the way to a customer’s home.  FedEx and UPS both charge this fee, which is currently approximately $3.60 per parcel for Ground Services and $4.15 per parcel for Express Services.

SmartPost.  A hybrid parcel shipping service offered by FedEx that relies on its network to carry packages, leaving the final mile delivery to the United States Postal Service.  This service is limited to shipments that weigh a maximum of 70 pounds. 

SurePost.  A hybrid shipping service offered by UPS that relies on its network to carry packages, leaving the final mile delivery to the United States Postal Service.  This service is limited to shipments that weigh a maximum of 70 pounds. 

Unboxing.  The experience of unwrapping and unpacking a delivery.  A key must-have in industries such as direct sales and subscription businesses, it often calls for the use of more elaborate packaging materials as well as careful product presentation in order to keep customers engaged and satisfied.   A premium packaging approach may preclude the use of less expensive packaging or dunnage.  Unboxing is just one example of the many cost vs. quality choices that companies consider as they design their optimal fulfillment strategies.

That’s it for now.  We’ll be sharing more noteworthy industry terms in future blogs. Meanwhile, if you want to know more about other meaningful ways to streamline your fulfillment or delivery, contact us.  Or take a few minutes to watch some of our videos.  

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Filed Under: Parcel Transportation, eCommerce Fulfillment