Shipping costs are, and always have been, an important topic that companies must consider. In fact, shipping and transportation are often some of the heftiest costs facing businesses today. This is especially true with the high price of fuel and other transportation-related issues which seem to be here to stay.
For this reason, businesses need to frequently reevaluate their transportation strategy in order to make sure they are saving money wherever possible.
One interesting delivery practice that appeals to many businesses is zone skipping. Zone skipping is an inventive strategy for overcoming steep parcel costs, and one that you may consider for your company.
In this article, we will provide an overview of zone skipping so that you can determine if this parcel shipping strategy is right for you.
Zone Skipping Explained
Essentially, zone skipping involves the consolidation of separate orders into one, larger shipment that only goes to one location. In doing so, businesses can bypass the shipping costs associated with stopping in multiple zones for deliveries. However, to fully understand zone skipping, you first need to understand what exactly shipping zones are in the U.S.
In order to determine travel distance and fees associated with deliveries, carriers divide the United States into zones. There are 9 shipping zones which are grouped as follows.
Shipping zone 1 includes locations that are within 50 miles of the origin of the delivery. Besides simple, local deliveries, stopping in this zone will incur the lowest shipping costs.
Interestingly, many shippers do not have a strong understanding of shipping zones. There is a misconception that shipping zones are fixed locations and that one zone is associated with a particular region of the country.
In reality, shipping zones are used in relation to a point of origin. For example, if a delivery begins in California, any deliveries within 50 miles or less of this point of origin would be considered a zone 1 delivery. Then, as the delivery distance increases, the associated number of the shipping zone increases.
As the distance of the destination moves further away from the origin, the shipping costs increases along with it.
Zone 2 includes shipping destinations that are between 51 and 150 miles from the point of origin.
Zone 3 includes locales that are 151 to 300 miles away.
Zone 4 covers deliveries between 301 and 600 miles from the initial reference point.
Zone 5 references distances from 601-1000 miles away.
Zone 6 includes those destinations that are at least 1001 miles and at most 1400 miles away.
Zone 7 encompasses locations that are between 1401 miles and 1800 miles from the reference point.
Finally, zone 8 includes locations that are 1801 miles away or further.
Shipping to and from these locations bears special consideration, as shipping costs can be complicated when dealing with zone 9 shipments.
Zone Skipping Can Lead to Maximum Savings
So, if your company needs to deliver to a location in zone 8, it may behoove you to use a zone skipping strategy.
Consolidating your shipments so that you only need to stop in one zone just makes sense. By doing so, you effectively sidestep the costs associated with having to deliver to multiple zones across the country. Then, once your shipment has been delivered to a particular zone, local deliveries take place so that the goods reach their final locations.
Of course, you’ll still need to pay the local or regional shipping rates as they apply. But this cost is often preferable to the national rates shippers have to contend with when using a traditional shipping method.
Is Zone Skipping Right for All Companies?
In short, no; not all companies will benefit from a zone skipping strategy.
One potential issue associated with zone skipping is the fact that you will likely have to wait a little bit longer to ensure that you have a full truckload before beginning your delivery. (That being said, some shippers do still successfully employ a zone skipping strategy with LTL shipments. Shipping recommendations vary widely based on the needs of an individual business).
Because of this, your shipments may arrive at their destinations later than you would prefer. In some instances, this may not be a problem.
Furthermore, the lower cost of shipping may offset this issue and you may see this as only a small hurdle that won’t affect your operations as much as higher shipping costs would.
Also, there are instances where zone skipping could even save a day or two in transportation time.
Again, there are many moving pieces that need to be considered in your delivery strategy, and every business will need to take a close look at their individual situation to determine if zone skipping is right for them.
Tying It All Together
For time immemorial, shippers have searched for ways to lower their costs so that consumers don’t have to pick up the slack for extra fees imposed by carriers and other relevant parties. One such method of offsetting costs of delivery across the country is known as zone skipping.
Zone skipping is a great option for many shippers, but it may not be appropriate for all companies. Before embarking on a zone skipping strategy, reach out to the team at Redwood. With the technology, expertise and industry reputation of a professional 3PL, you can take all your shipping strategies to the next level.