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How Does Zone Skipping Work as a Logistics Strategy?

Time to read: 5 minutes

One of the most significant issues eCommerce companies face is the high expense of cross-country transportation. It takes carriers a lot of time to sort, cross-dock, and off-load to distribution hubs. Items are then re-loaded onto trucks for the next leg of the transportation route. Due to this lengthy process, customer orders face prolonged delivery delays.

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Over the past two years, eCommerce has evolved rapidly, affecting how freight and package carriers build their logistics networks. Rising transportation costs impact everyone. Unfortunately, these costs are passed on to customers by the shipper.

With the increased use of online shopping, zone skipping as a shipping method has gained popularity. And with how shipping trends in 2023 are shaping up, it is likely to see even more use. However, there are specific processes behind the logistics technique. Businesses must have the appropriate resources available to benefit from them.

Two lousy customer experiences are enough for 76% of online shoppers to stop doing business with a brand. Slow and delayed deliveries are also among the major reasons for a poor shopping experience online. 

Customers today have high expectations and expect to receive their items as soon as possible.

Zone skipping lets companies send their goods faster while lowering costs, particularly for long-distance and international shipments.

Your company can use zone skipping to pay local freight fees instead of expensive national zone crossing fees. With it, packages arrive more quickly and with less damage.

How Does Zone Skipping Work

Zone skipping is a transportation technique that makes sending individual packages or less-than-truck hold (LTL) shipments easier.

Major courier firms created zone skipping to reduce transit expenses for retailers skipping several products. Items are loaded onto a consolidated truck and then delivered to a designated delivery point. It doesn’t need to pass through multiple delivery points for individual packages.

Products are then divided into smaller portions at the destination terminal facility. Orders are then distributed to nearby customers. This approach expedites freight transportation by avoiding common shipping drawbacks such as erratic transit times.

Simply put, zone skipping enables shippers to group package deliveries and send them to a designated region. The number of “zones” an item goes through, and its distance are two factors that determine shipping charges. Zone skipping allows shipments to reach a carrier’s system in the last-mile zone. It also eliminates the significant expense of multi-zone transfers.

This strategy is perfect for high-volume online retailers with parcel shipments weighing under 10 pounds. It’s because zone skipping requires a lot of freight to be efficient.

Using Zone Skipping to Your Advantage

Companies that use many LTL carriers to move a lot of freight to various locations can benefit from zone skipping.

Zone skipping makes the long-haul section—the longest leg of a shipment’s journey—more predictable. It does this by avoiding the need for several LTL carriers. As a result, these shippers improve on-time delivery rates.

Zone skipping is something to consider if you’re a shipper that can combine your stocks onto a single truck for the long-haul portion of your shipment and have numerous drop-off points in a particular area.

Your business’s goods must travel through many zones to benefit from zone skipping.

Additionally, the cost savings and benefits increase the more zones your packages travel through during this procedure.

Lower Shipping Costs

Before the company gives the orders to the carrier, they’re presorted at a fulfillment center based on their intended destination. With this approach, shippers can transport their items closer to the final shipping destination. Because of this, you can avoid having to pay the charges associated with parcel carrier sortation at each regional hub.

To illustrate in an example, let’s say that your eCommerce business is shipping a batch of 10,000 items from Boston to Los Angeles at $15 per parcel. It’ll cost your business a total of $150,000 in shipping fees. 

Compare this with one truckload of 10,000 orders shipped from Boston to the carrier’s sorting facility in California at $5,000. Then add the cost of parcel shipping — from the carrier’s facility to the customer, all within the LA zone — at $7 each. The total for the zone-skipped truckload comes to $75,000 (($5,000 + ($10,000 x $7), for a total savings of half the original cost.

With zone shipping, your company can send items from Boston to Los Angeles without stops. This direct shipment effectively skips several “zones,” which allows you to pay for the regional cost of sortation of the destination zone.  

Flexibility & Speed

Skipping zones can also result in faster delivery and more dependable and consistent transit times. Transporting products directly to the zone destination instead of making stops at numerous facilities is simply more economical. It’s great for long-distance shipping. This way, you can also avoid several potential disruptions at each stop.

Additionally, the model provides more flexibility for shipping packages. Zone skipping with a regional carrier enables customizable pickup times and accessorial fees. Compare this to using a national provider to deliver packages; shippers must abide by that carrier’s network standards.

Because all your packages are in the same cargo, they can all be tracked at once. It can enhance the process of your delivery experience management.

Integrating Zone Skipping in Your Logistics

Zone skipping can be incredibly economical and efficient. But shippers must have a few capabilities and processes in place to reduce shipping costs.

Finding the sites with potential cost savings is the first step in integrating zone skipping into your logistics operations. You’ll need visibility into the areas you frequently ship to and where they cost you the most. With this transparency, you can easily coordinate with your transportation provider to carry out the zone skip.

Businesses must be cautious when estimating freight costs on an individual basis. It will determine whether standard shipping methods or zone skipping is more affordable.

You should use real-time data and analytics to make accurate records when shipments arrive on a per zip code basis. Making decisions based solely on carrier forecasting could increase your total shipping expenditure. 

With this level of data granularity, shippers can use zone skipping tactics for their operations. But shippers must be mindful of package aggregation and the overall landing expenses of shipping by ground. This is particularly true when considering the extra fees and costs related to peak seasons and other disruptions.

Some businesses will discover that paying transportation fees by truckload will increase the cost of shorter delivery. Most importantly, renting an entire truck to deliver an LTL shipment occasionally makes sense for companies shipping fewer packages.

Shippers must have an effective sortation system that fits their needs. For instance, it must provide enough output to meet regular and peak operational demands.

Second, you should have enough warehouse space. It’ll allow employees to presort products according to the destination and easily transport them in trucks.

The parcel sizes and types you ship to your clients must be processed by your sortation technology. In eCommerce shipping, package sizes and shapes vary frequently. It can slow down operations if a significant portion of your packages doesn’t work with your sorting systems.

You’ll also need to evaluate the labeling capabilities of your logistics. Labels are typically placed on parcels using conventional shipping techniques before they are sent from your warehouse. Zone skipping, however, allows you to either pre-label the goods that will be delivered to the customer from the trans-loading site. Alternatively, you can also have distribution hub employees label the packages once they have been emptied at the carrier’s facility.

A consolidated truckload may require different handling techniques for various packages. You must establish a reliable operating procedure for printing shipping labels to prevent errors.

Although zone skipping has many advantages, it might not always be practical. Zone skipping is a practice that you should thoroughly assess before deciding whether to engage in it. Be sure to list all shipping zones and only use zone skipping for appropriate areas. Remember to compare prices and carrier options.

ZhenHub offers comprehensive logistics software solutions to prepare your eCommerce business for zone skipping. Our distribution network of global warehousing partners brings you closer to your customers without raising costs. Get started by signing up at our website today.

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