How eCommerce Is Reshaping LTL ShippingWritten by Nicola Malaney
Just north of one trillion dollars. That’s where B2B eCommerce sales landed in 2018, according to Digital Commerce 360’s 2019 eCommerce Market Report. These figures become even more noteworthy when you consider that a significant portion of B2B merchants are still not fully engaged in eCommerce and may take their time implementing this strategy.
There are certainly enough barriers to entry; aside from the obvious cost of digitization, businesses face challenges from within their organizations when varying levels of management are not aligned on vision and long-term strategy as well as staff that may not be well-versed in eCommerce. Despite all of this, the potential for the industry is seemingly endless, and some tangentially-related industries have factored this in from early on.
I’m referring to the shipping industry, of course, but not necessarily with regards to the actual carriers. It may be a surprise to some, but the rise of eCommerce shipping hasn’t necessarily been music to the LTL carrier industry’s ears. Sure, on the surface it appears opportunistic; more cargo to haul, more money to be made. However, the different types of freight as well as sometimes less than desirable destinations, such as residences, do not always make life easy for the carriers.
That being said, the need for LTL transportation in the wake of the eCommerce boom is here to stay, and the carriers are slowly making adjustments to make their networks more conducive to this new wave of freight. As an example, customers today are requiring quick delivery, so goods need to be stored in multiple distribution centers across the country rather than in one or two centralized locations. This results in a higher frequency of LTL freight loads of bulk products rather than larger, full truckloads. In some cases, individual deliveries of large or heavy items from the fulfillment centers need to be made to buyers who also require LTL shipping.
So while the carriers themselves are in the midst of adjusting to the new normal, when it comes to eCommerce shipping solutions, some third parties have been early adopters when it comes to incorporating LTL shipping into their long-term eCommerce strategy.
Jimmy Rodriguez, COO of the eCommerce platform 3dcart, summarizes his company’s decision to consider LTL shipping solutions as part of their offering: “As eCommerce continues to grow over brick-and-mortar retail, consumers are more inclined to order products online that were traditionally purchased in person. The rise in eCommerce sales of items like furniture, appliances, exercise equipment, and even vehicle tires and replacement parts; requires the use of LTL shipping services. Online retailers should carefully consider the selection of their eCommerce platform and the ability to seamlessly integrate with the right technology to provide accurate LTL shipping rates to customers at the time of checkout, from trusted partners that can offer reliable and timely delivery of the items.”
Similarly, eCommerce shipping management provider ShipperHQ was prudent enough to recognize the essential role LTL shipping would play as the online shopping industry expanded. Senior Business Consultant Daniel Ziegler explains: "ShipperHQ added support for LTL as a shipping mode very early on because we foresaw a growing demand for this service. As the pace of B2B retailers and B2C merchants selling large goods online increased, these merchants needed to offer the same quality of shipping experience as any B2C eCommerce site.
“To achieve this, real-time LTL quotes at checkout is a must. When the rate at which B2B merchants were moving online ramped up about 10 years ago, the standard was to show customers a message at checkout to “call in for a shipping quote.” This experience often led to abandoned carts since customers couldn't see the actual cost of their order. Checkout conversion rate is critical to be successful online, and shipping has a significant impact on this metric. Providing live LTL rates at checkout can directly improve the way you sell products to customers who are already on your site.”
At ReTrans Freight, we have had eCommerce shipping on our radar for several years and are continually striving to provide the LTL shipping solutions online merchants are looking for.
“ReTrans Freight continues to work directly with platforms, merchants, developers, and strategic partners to move the LTL needle towards strategic and competitive advantages for shippers doing business in the eCommerce space,” ReTrans Freight Vice President of Business Development Brian Hiller said. “We are truly looking to provide carrier options surrounded with technology for a small parcel feel in the LTL B2B and B2C space.”
Businesses that require LTL shipping as part of their delivery solution should look into partnering with providers who have a long history of bringing eCommerce shipping solutions to the table. Creating a positive buying experience is much more attainable than it seems when the right parties are working together. If you want to learn more about our eCommerce shipping solutions, don’t hesitate to get in touch!