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Air cargo is a fast and reliable way to ship, but it’s also the most expensive option. Today’s volatile markets, soaring fuel prices, mounting demand, and diminishing capacity drive higher costs. As a result, it’s more critical than ever to focus on ways to optimize air cargo shipments to preserve margins and maintain reliability.
Here are our top tips to help you get the best value out of air cargo:
1. Match the service to your need. Weight, size, time in transit, and the type of shipment all directly impact shipping costs. Be sure you’re matching the service to the needs of the load to avoid unnecessary costs.
2. Use your carrier’s customs brokerage house. Partnering with a carrier that also acts as a brokerage house takes one link out of the chain, optimizing time and resources.
3. Make sure your documentation is in order. Incorrect or incomplete documentation is the surest way to delay your shipment and add costs. Prioritize documentation completeness and accuracy to avoid issues. Using shipping software usually helps this process.
4. Consolidate palletized goods. Weight is not the only factor that drives air freight costs up. Optimize pallet space by packing efficiently to avoid additional fees.
5. Consider metrics beyond the financial. The price you pay for air freight is just one indicator of value. You should also consider customer service, speed, reliability, and on-time deliveries because that’s how you build a strong reputation. If you cut corners just to save a few dollars and then have to deal with complications in the supply chain, is it really worth it?
6. Centralize air cargo payments. The less administrative work you have to do, the more time you’ll have to focus on your business. Plus, when you pay one consignee instead of many, you’ll also avoid markups typical of independent shippers.
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7. Deploy a shipping software solution. Shipping software will help you eliminate many manual processes, such as printing labels, filing paperwork, and creating manifests. The less that needs to be done manually, the fewer mistakes you’ll have to backtrack to correct. When your shipping software is integrated with other internal systems, you’ll also have easy access to reports and metrics that will help you grow and improve.
8. Enable visibility to fuel growth. Supply chain visibility is essential in today’s complex and competitive landscape. As your company grows, you’ll need a reliable window into where your shipments are at all times, from the factory floor to the customer’s door. Visibility is not just for peace of mind (although that’s one benefit); it also optimizes the time and money you spend and helps you deliver the best possible customer service.
9. Enable alerts. Most 3PLs offer an alert system to notify you of any delays or issues with your shipments. Alerts help you stay on top of problems and allows you to get ahead of them when you can.
10. Work with a shipping service provider you trust. Instead of complicating matters by working with several shippers, choose one that is capable of delivering all the services you need. Successful businesses are built on relationships, and, arguably, your shipper is one of the most critical.