New advancements in technology are changing nearly all aspects of daily life and nearly all major industries. Technology is already shaping the shipping industry and as new innovations are available, experts predict those innovations will lead to even more changes – particularly for international shipping. Here are a few of the predictions for the future of international shipping.
International Shipping Automation Technology
In an age where driver-less cars are hitting the streets in cities across the globe, it’s not a huge stretch to anticipate how similar technology can work in shipping. Automated container ships could decrease cost and significantly increase the volume of ocean freight shipping. Additionally, increased automation at ports will streamline loading and unloading of containers using various automated equipment and drones.
Shift in Role of Freight Brokers/Forwarders
With increases in digitization and automation in freight shipping, the role of freight brokers will shift to focus deeper on ensuring compliance with national and international shipping requirements. Freight brokers’ expertise on customs requirements for both shipments coming into the U.S. and also customs requirements for shipments leaving the U.S. for other countries may shift them into more advisory roles. Of course, freight brokers will continue to play a strong role in customer service and assistance.
Decreased Competition in Shipping
The shippers who can keep up with implementing the latest technologies in the most efficient way will gain an edge over smaller shippers who can often be slower to implement expensive new technology advancements. Larger shippers are already acquiring smaller shippers and narrowing the field. New innovations are likely to speed up this consolidation process, or even give larger shippers leverage to push smaller shippers out of business completely. The options for international shipping will streamline more going forward, eventually leaving three or four very large major carriers, industry experts predict.
Changes are ahead for international shipping, courtesy of new technology and innovation. How fast these changes happen depends on several factors, however, industry insiders tend to be fairly accurate on forecasting upcoming changes in international shipping.
Private mailboxes are available through local shippers, such as ShipOnSite. Private mailboxes offer so much more than a run-of-the-mill post office box. Particularly for business owners who operate out of their home, a private mailbox provides privacy, consistency and security that just makes smart business sense.
A private mailbox delivers greater privacy by providing an official street address for your business that is separate from your home address. An official street address can look more professional in some industries than a P.O. box and the shipper providing the mailbox will sign for packages from any carrier – not just packages sent through USPS. Using a private mailbox also prevents customers from randomly dropping by your home, unaware that your business is home-based.
Using a private mailbox provides a consistent address for your business, no matter how many times your home address changes. Not only does it add consistency to your professional reputation but it also saves you from having to repeatedly change your address on all of your digital platforms and on all of your printed materials, such as business cards and brochures. Your private mailbox saves you hassle and also money you’d otherwise spend on replacing your print collateral.
A private mailbox is a great way to ensure security of packages and mail received for your business. Many residential areas have street-side mailboxes where anyone can shuffle through your mail while you’re away and steal anything of interest. Likewise, packages left on residential doorsteps are usually in full view of anyone driving by and at risk for theft. Additionally, when you go out of town, accumulating mail alerts potential burglars that you’re away. When you use a private mailbox for your business, less mail accumulates at your home. You have the peace of mind you need knowing your packages and mail are stored securely in your private mailbox and safe from thieves or tampering whether you’re gone for the day or for a month.
Having a private mailbox provides great benefits for your home-based business, such as keeping packages and mail secure and having a signer available for packages from all major shippers. You also get a consistent street address for your business, no matter how often you move, and your home address stays private. ShipOnSite of Myrtle Beach offers great low rates on private mailbox rentals, along with convenience of location.
If you’ve never used a local shipper to send a package, you might be wondering how they’re different than your local post office location. Both mail packages and letters, but that might be where the similarities end. Here are the top 5 reasons to go to a local shipper and skip the lines at the post office.
1. Assistance with proper packaging of your item.
If you have an odd-shaped or delicate item to ship and you’re uncertain how best to package it to ensure it makes it to the destination safely, a local shipper will assist you with actually packaging the item – including proper packing materials to protect the item such as bubble wrap and foam peanuts. Many also offer crating and palletizing services for large items or multi-package shipments.
2. Hours that work with your schedule.
Many local shippers are open 7 days per week. They may also offer evening hours on certain days or during certain seasons. While the post office may add service hours during the holidays, local shippers have them beat with hours on Sundays and/or extended Saturday hours – year round.
3. Help select the most appropriate shipping provider for your needs.
Local shippers typically work with the USPS as well as other major shipping providers. Whether your top concern is having your package delivered on a specific day or getting the best price for your shipment, local shippers have the expertise to help you select the right carrier to match your needs. They can also compare rates for you to help you find the best deal.
4. Domestic and international freight services.
Whether you have a large heavy item to be shipped within the U.S. or an international shipment, a local shipper is the resource you need to handle freight transport. While not all local shippers provide freight shipping services, the post office doesn’t offer freight services at any location. Whether your freight shipment requires transport by land, air or sea, your local shipper is the expert to rely on.
5. Lots of helpful services beyond shipping.
Many local shippers offer an array of helpful services that go far beyond any post office. Just a few examples of services local shippers offer include printing services, notary services, private mailboxes (and they sign for packages from all major carriers, unlike the service you get with a P.O. box), business centers with computer workstations, passport photos and some even offer auction services that help you sell items through online auction sites.
Your local shipper , ShipOnSite of Myrtle Beach, offers all the same services as the USPS and a long list of additional services you won’t find at any post office. Extra bonuses to using a local shipper – avoiding slow-moving never-ending lines and getting the hands-down best customer service.
Many individuals and small business owners, particularly online sellers, may be unclear what the differences are between the three top major shippers in the U.S. With so many different options from each of these shipping companies, such confusion is completely understandable. Let’s unpack how these major shippers measure up with each other on price, reliable delivery and free vs. surcharged services.
United States Postal Service (USPS)
The USPS has a lot to offer in terms of cost-effectiveness and free services. However, some other aspects of USPS shipping have room for improvement.
Price: Overall, USPS is most often the cheapest when shipping packages under 2 lbs. Additionally, their flat rate shipping services can be very cost-effective.
Surcharges: Surcharges are another area where the USPS has an edge. Because they already handle general residential mail service and deliver on Saturdays, they offer free residential delivery, free Saturday delivery and free package pick-up. They also don’t add fees for fuel surcharges.
Delivery Reliability: Reliability of deliveries is where USPS struggles compared to the other major shipping players. Even priority shipping services often experience delays, which can be an issue for time-sensitive deliveries. The USPS tracking system isn’t as accurate or reliable as it could be, particularly when it comes to lost packages (and recovering them). Another factor impacting reliable delivery in some areas is the use of independent contractors for delivery. While this practice helps the USPS keep shipping costs low, it has negatively impacted reliability and has increased incidence of incorrect deliveries and lost or stolen packages.
UPS does well in package tracking and pricing for certain package weights. But UPS falls short in other key areas that can end up taking a bite out of your wallet.
Price: UPS delivers more packages from online sellers than its competitors. This shipping volume is one factor that gives UPS the edge in having the best rates for packages over 2 lbs. However, for businesses that do a lot of shipping and want to score a better base rate for shipping for the volume of packages they ship, that requires an individual negotiation with a representative at UPS.
Surcharges: Particularly for business accounts, the surcharges can quickly add up with UPS and result in much higher costs than expected. Surcharges for fuel, residential delivery and package pick-up can result in a hefty monthly invoice.
Delivery Reliability: UPS’s tracking system is more advanced and typically more accurate than their competitors’. It also offers more options and features for both businesses and their customers. The strength of their tracking system works in their favor with reliable and on-time deliveries.
FedEx is generally competitive for several types of packages and deliveries compared to the other two major shippers. However, they are top of the pack for reliability and guaranteed on-time deliveries. They are also the most highly-regarded for customer service among the top three shippers.
Price: While FedEx pricing can be fairly competitive for ground shipping, they offer many guaranteed options on overnight and 2-day shipping, including a.m. deliveries and Flat Rate pricing. Their reliability may be worth the cost though for time-sensitive packages that must be delivered on time. FedEx also frequently releases discounted rate options for businesses that ship a larger volume of packages each month. An extra bonus for these businesses is that they can take advantage of these discounts with a few clicks, instead of negotiating over the phone with a company representative.
Surcharges: Like UPS, FedEx does add surcharges for fuel, Saturday delivery, residential delivery and package pick-up. Business account customers will want to keep track of surcharges to avoid costly surprises on their monthly invoice.
Delivery Reliability: FedEx is known for being the most reliable of the major shippers. Their tracking system is accurate and reliable and they place a high priority on timeliness of deliveries.
Understanding how the major shippers stack up with each other on reliability, costs and surcharges can help individuals and small businesses make the most informed choices for their shipping needs. Working with a shipping service like ShipOnSite can also help navigate the pros and cons of the various shipping carriers to ensure your packages get to their intended destination on time and at the best rates.
The shipping industry is one we rarely think too much about, particularly, shipping by boat overseas. Have you ever found yourself wondering about how our complex and multi-layered delivery system gets items from country to country? Or perhaps you’ve driven past a shipping port recently and wondered what was in all of those containers. Here are some fascinating shipping industry facts that just might surprise you.
1. Almost 90% of everything we buy arrives by boat. There are also many goods for which parts arrive by boat and are assembled in the U.S. However, almost anything you can think of that we buy, from clothes to food to electronics to toys, has come to us by boat.
2. Pirates are real. Pirate attacks on shipping vessels has outpaced the rate of violent assaults in the country with the highest crime rate in the world (South Africa) for the last several years. The most dangerous area for pirate attacks is off the coast of Somalia, though pirate attacks happen all over the globe.
3. The shipping industry is extremely secretive. The ocean-faring sector of the shipping industry is intensely secretive. It is so secretive that most shipping companies and shipowner associations refuse to reveal how many shipping vessels they have or how many members are part of their organization. Even more, the tight-lipped nature of ocean/over-water shippers is regarded as normal. Though unconfirmed, one might assume this approach may be to avoid giving away details that could be used by pirates.
4. Shipping containers are rarely inspected. With so many different types of products coming into the country by boat in shipping containers, you might assume inspection would be rigorous to ensure nothing undocumented is making its way into the U.S. In reality, only about 5% of shipping containers arriving at U.S. ports are physically inspected. The inspection rates for most European ports are even lower.
5. The oceans are astronomic. The world’s oceans are so immense that the normal travels of the average container ship in a single year accrue the same mileage as the distance of going 3/4 of the way to the moon and back.
We may not often think about it, but the over-water sector of the shipping industry is more interesting than we realize. Traveling across the open seas, keeping watch for pirates and quite literally living by the code of “loose lips sink ships”, shipping vessels and their crews experience things many of us can’t even imagine. To learn more fascinating facts about shipping, check out the book Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate by Rose George.
Whether you’re packing fragile items for an upcoming move or to ship to someone in another area, there are some tips we recommend to keep your fragile or breakable items safe during transport.
1. Take your time! Rushing could cause you to overlook something or skimp on cushioning that is needed to keep the item from shifting around during transport, making it more prone to breakage.
2. Choose the right box. For fragile items, it’s best to select a heavy-duty double-walled cardboard box that is the smallest possible size to properly fit your item. Boxes that are too large are more difficult to fill extra space in and can make your item more likely to move around inside the box while being transported.
3. Use the right packing supplies. For most fragile items, you’ll need bubble wrap, cushion foam sheets, newspaper, extra pieces of cardboard, painter’s tape, styrofoam frame protectors (corners), styrofoam blocks or wedges and old t-shirts or towels for extra protection.
4. Pack with weight in mind. For regular breakables like dishes, cups, thicker vases and other stoneware or glassware, always put the heaviest items on the bottom and lighter items on top, with an extra piece of cardboard in between. These types of items can usually be wrapped in newspaper or cushion foam sheets. Stick crumpled newspaper inside of cups and mugs and use newspaper, t-shirts or towels to fill any empty space and secure items to prevent them from moving. Make sure to mark on the outside of the box which side is the top.
5. Extra fragile items require extra packing. Very delicate or fragile items such as thin glass vases or fine china require a bit of extra packing to protect them properly during transport. First, avoid multiple layers of items, if possible. Tuck crumpled newspaper inside vases or any open space inside items and then wrap a layer of either newspaper or cushion foam sheet around the outside of the item and secure with a piece of tape. Next, wrap a second layer around the item using bubble wrap, taking care around edges and corners. If multiple fragile items will be in the same box, wrap each with old t-shirts or towels before placing into the box to keep items from banging against each other. Ensure all spaces are filled and the items are secure within the box and don’t move around before you seal it.
6. Pack mirrors and pictures as fragile items. Mirrors and pictures with glass should be packed as fragile items. First, take strips of painter’s tape and tape the front of the glass picture or mirror in a diagonal, corner-to-corner manner. The tape should form a star or asterisk shape, similar to the way a cut pizza looks. Wrap the item in foam cushion or newspaper and follow with a layer of bubble wrap. Use styrofoam corners and wedges to protect corners and delicate edges. Pack into a box specifically made for mirrors and pictures and use old t-shirts or towels to fill empty space and keep the items from moving.
If you have questions or need assistance with packing fragile items to prevent breakage during transport, ShipOnSite can help! We’re experts in packing all kinds of items and can help ensure your item is packed right.
The difference between ground shipping and air shipping is something most people don’t think too much about. However, these two shipping methods have some surprising differences when it comes to cost, speed of shipment, security, destination and the size and type of shipments handled. Let’s take a closer look:
Air shipping is when your package is loaded onto a cargo plane and flown to the intended destination. Aside from a cargo ship (boat), air shipping is the only other shipping method for shipments that cross oceans or seas. Typically, packages are flown direct to the intended destination city non-stop (or closest airport), which makes it faster than ground shipping. And because airports are involved and there are less people and stops, air shipping generally has tighter security and less worry about tampering or theft of packages.
Faster delivery and more security does add cost, making air shipping more expensive in most cases vs. ground shipping. Air shipping can also experience significant delays due to weather, and depending on how extreme the weather event is, those delays can be anywhere from a few hours to several days. Winter weather isn’t the only weather woe that impacts air shipping, hurricanes, tornadoes, sand storms, wildfires and flooding can also keep planes grounded at their gates.
Ground shipping is when your package is transported to the intended destination via truck. Ground shipping is generally less expensive and can transport even very large items, such as cars, which are too large and heavy for air shipping. Ground shipping is limited to places where trucks can actually drive to, which rules out overseas destinations. Ground shipping also takes longer as it’s common for trucks to have multiple stops to unload or pick up packages at various destinations along the route. With more stops and more people potentially having access to packages during transit, ground shipping is also less secure and carries a greater risk of theft or package tampering.
Lower cost is the trade-off for longer shipping time, however, weather-related delays are often shorter for trucks than for planes. As soon as roads are safe to drive on, trucks keep on trucking, whereas planes have to wait until the weather for the entire flight plan is clear enough for safe arrival at the intended destination. Trucks can also be delayed by accidents, unexpected road closures and detours, however, most drivers are experts at navigating such issues as quickly as possible.
Both air shipping and ground shipping have pros and cons regarding cost, security, destination, speed of delivery and the types of items that can be shipped. Understanding the difference in these two shipping methods and the trade-offs of each give you the information you need to choose the option that best meets your needs. And of course, ShipOnSite is always available to answer your questions about the best shipping choices for your items.
The holidays are quickly approaching and it’s a good idea to plan ahead for shipping gifts or items to family or for receiving ordered gifts before Christmas for your friends and family in Myrtle Beach. Planning ahead helps you make sure items get where you need them on time and avoid increased fees from shipping carriers as the holidays get closer.
Shipping Deadlines for Major Carriers
The three most common carriers have already released their deadlines for holiday shipping. It’s important to remember that the holiday shipping volume can affect the delivery times for your shipments. So the earlier you ship, the better off you are in ensuring that your packages arrive before the ‘Big Day’.
Let’s take a look at those deadlines for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), FedEx and UPS. Ship by the dates below to ensure your item arrives on time:
December 15, 2017: Standard Mail Parcel Post
December 20, 2017: First Class Mail and Priority Mail
December 23, 2017: Priority Express Mail and Packages
December 12, 2017: Smart Post Shipments
December 17, 2017: Ground Delivery and Home Delivery
December 20, 2017: Express Save Shipments
December 22, 2017: 2-Day and 2-Day Morning Shipments
December 23, 2017: Shipments using Standard Overnight, Priority Overnight, and First Overnight
December 25, 2017: Same Day Shipments
December 18, 2017: 3-Day Select Shipments
December 22, 2017: 2nd Day Air Shipments
December 23, 2017: Next Day Air Shipments
Reminder: Many shipping companies increase fees during the frantic shipping rush leading up to Christmas, and the closer to the holiday, the greater the increases. For example, UPS will begin adding surcharges to shipments as early as November 19, 2017. FedEx and USPS haven’t yet released their price increase info as of this writing. To avoid surcharges and higher shipping fees, plan ahead to get your out-of-area packages mailed out as early as possible.
Holiday Shipping Tips
With so many packages crisscrossing the country and even overseas, there are some tips to keep in mind during the holiday shipping season.
1. Don’t wait until the last minute! Not only will you be navigating shipping deadlines and dealing with increased costs, but you’ll also deal with more people and longer lines, depending on shipping method.
2. Pack box contents tightly. With so many items being shipped this time of year, packages are more likely to get jostled around more in the hustle and bustle of moving more shipments in such a short time frame. Be extra careful with breakables and be sure to wrap them in paper or foam cushion sheets first, then follow with a wrapping of bubble wrap. Use styrofoam inserts, crumpled paper and other fillers to ensure all items in the package are secure and don’t shift around inside the box. Shifting during shipment can cause breakage and damage to fragile items.
3. Pack with weather and the season in mind. The weather may be great where you live but if your package is going to Montana or Ohio, the weather may not be so good when the package arrives. Securely tape your package on both top and bottom (be sure to tape over corners where damage often happens). Also, just in case the address information on the package gets wet or damaged, include an extra address label with both the destination address and return address inside the box right on top before you tape it up.
You spend time and thought choosing just the right gifts for your loved ones. Follow our holiday tips and keep shipping deadlines in mind to ensure your gift arrives in perfect condition and on time. ShipOnSite is always here to help!