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What Is Zone Skipping?

In the transportation industry, getting shipments from point A to point B as quickly as possible is the name of the game. Zone skipping is just one of the strategies available for moving freight more efficiently across regions. 

Rather than sending less than truckload (LTL) shipments that stop at every hub along the way, zone skipping consolidates freight to ship from one geographic location to another in one large shipment, bypassing stops along the way. Ideal for shippers needing to move freight from one region to another, zone-skipping can save time and money for eligible shipments. 

So if you’re wondering what zone skipping is and how it can help move regional shipments faster, read on to learn more.

How Does Zone Skipping Work?

Zone skipping is an excellent way for companies to save time and money by shipping large quantities of LTL freight from one geographic location to another. First, orders are consolidated into standardized containers in a shipping warehouse and then sent to a hub in the new region, bypassing stops along the way and minimizing last-mile delivery distance. 

For example, say you’re an apparel company based in Colorado with a large customer base and retail network in New England. You can use zone skipping to consolidate your parcels into one large shipment in Colorado and send them directly to a distribution hub located in New England. 

By skipping the zones between the two locations, your company only needs to pay the regional rate and avoid the costs associated with shipping across multiple zones directly. It also speeds up delivery to your customers in New England by getting your parcels as close to their final destination as possible before being handed over to a last-mile carrier

What Is a Shipping Zone?

Shipping zones are geographic regions based on the distance from a shipment’s point of origin and final destination. In the United States, shipping zones are standardized, with USPS, UPS, and FedEx all using the same shipping zone guidelines. There are nine shipping zones, each representing a specific distance from the shipment’s origin. For example, zone 1 is considered local or anywhere within a 50-mile radius, and Zone 9 includes Freely Associated States, such as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Who is Zone-Skipping a Good Fit For?

Zone skipping doesn’t make sense for all companies. However, shippers that rely heavily on LTL freight and have multiple recipients within a regional vicinity can benefit significantly from this shipping strategy. There also needs to be a need for a considerable amount of freight to arrive within the same geographic location in the same time frame. Retail companies are the primary beneficiaries of zone skipping. 

On the other hand, zone skipping is unsuitable for companies with scattered customers or shipments that are not time sensitive and can be shipped cheaper using other methods. When customers are spread out across the country, more traditional LTL strategies are more efficient and cost-saving. Also, there is little need to use zone skipping if delivery speed is not a factor. 

Why Is Zone Skipping One of the Most Efficient Shipping Strategies?

Zone skipping is a popular method for shipping companies because it cuts down on the number of stops on a shipment’s way to its final destination. In addition, customers benefit from this efficient shipping strategy because it shortens delivery time and the costs associated with shipping over long distances. 

Benefits of Zone Skipping

Shippers benefit from using zone skipping on eligible shipments because it can save money, shorten transit times, shorten customer wait times, improve tracking, and reduce the risk of lost or damaged shipments. 

Zone Skipping Saves Money

With the capacity restraints in LTL shipping and the current shortage of truck drivers, deploying a single larger truckload to travel a large portion of a shipment’s journey is less expensive than coordinating multiple carriers. In addition, zone skipping allows for shipments to be sorted closer to their final destinations, reducing last-mile shipping costs. This nearby distribution also means that shippers can reduce parcel sorting costs by bypassing regional hubs. 

Shorter Transit Times

Most shipping methods require freight to pass through each regional sorting hub, where trucks are consolidated and optimized on their way to their final destination.  With zone skipping, there are fewer delays because freight can bypass one or more of these hubs. 

Shortened Customer Wait Times

Every time goods are loaded off a truck, sorted, and re-loaded onto another regional truck; precious time is wasted. Additionally, customers receive their deliveries much faster when shipments bypass one or more sorting hubs. Instead, a larger shipment travels from the initial warehouse to a sorting hub in the same zone where last-mile carriers will distribute parcels. 

Improved Tracking

Real time visibility is important in the supply chain, and fewer stops along the way mean zone-skipped shipments are easier to track. Simply put, there are fewer places the load could be. Keep in mind there can be a day or two when tracking is impossible while the shipment is in transit between zones. In this time period, status updates may be unavailable.

Reduces Risk of Damage or Loss

By reducing the number of cross-docking locations a shipment passes through, companies can minimize their risk of lost or damaged goods. Since each stop increases handling and, therefore, the chance for damage and loss along the way, zone-skipping is a safer way to move freight.

Find Out If Zone Skipping Meets Your Shipping Needs

With shorter shipping times and fewer costs than LTL shipments, zone skipping is an efficient shipping method for eligible freight. Ideal for shippers needing to move a large volume of goods from one region to another, zone skipping allows your company to bypass hubs in between zones. So rather than wasting time and money sorting your parcels every step of the way, zone skipping can enable you to deliver straight to the regional distribution center closest to your customers. 

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