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Shipping to Distribution Centers & Warehouses

distribution center shipping
CC image courtesy Mark Hunter via Flickr

Shipping to distribution centers and warehouses can cause your head to spin round-and-round. Luckily, you have a whole freight tracking team with knowledge about shipping to the UNFIs, Davidsons, and KEHEs of the world. Not only are these locations unique, but they also require some special services that add to transit time and cost of a shipment.

In an effort to get you the right price up front, we’re going to talk a bit about some of these services you might need when shipping to distribution centers or large, corporate warehouses.

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The first service that you need to make sure you are quoted with is Sort and Segregate (Sort and Seg). This service is required when shipping to distribution centers because it verifies that all of your product reached the destination. Sort and Seg means that the driver or dock workers will count every case on the pallet when it is received (as opposed to just accepting the pallet and finding out later that it’s short some cases).

Not all carriers provide this service so make sure you choose one that can deliver to that particular distribution center, and is able to do Sort and Seg. Counting each case can take time so if you are delivering this by the truckload, it would be wise to take into account the time it takes to fully unload and account for the cases.

Although rare, some unloading times can take up to 8 Hours. Truckload and LTL drivers don’t want to be at one location for that long, so take into account possible detention fees (fee correlating with how long over the allotted time it takes to unload) that may be applicable to the delivery. Once again, this is rare, but it must be mentioned.

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The second service required is Notify Consignee. This service is about scheduling a delivery appointment with the location. The distribution center will schedule a delivery appointment with the carrier if shipment is going LTL, but that responsibility falls on the shipper/broker if delivering via truckload.

As before, make sure you transport your goods with a carrier that can service the appointment times. Typically, distribution centers/warehouses have receiving windows from 12AM to 6AM. Preferred carriers to these locations usually have standing appointments or drop trailers.

Save yourself the headache and use one of the preferred carriers. Some distribution centers use scheduling software so make sure you, the carrier, or the broker has access to that system.

What’s Standard Pallet Size???

The Lumper Service is the third special service sometimes needed, and is determined on an individual location basis. Distribution centers may hire a “lumper” company to receive shipments, perform the Sort and Seg, and re-palletize/organize shipments so that the product can be put in the appropriate bin in the building.

Contact the delivery location to ascertain if a lumper service will be used at the time of delivery. Unfortunately, lumper service cannot be circumvented if a location requires it, and you must pay the fee or else your shipment will not be delivered. Working with a broker will smooth out the shipping process for distribution centers and warehouses, so make sure you pick an amazing broker.

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For more helpful information on freight shipping, check out our helpful collection of Freight Papers available for FREE download, as well as our Beginner’s Guide to Freight Shipping.


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