To lower your inbound shipping costs, select to use a forwarding plan when you create your next inbound in the Flexport Portal!
While you will be charged a per unit forwarding fee, shipment forwarding is specifically calculated to be cheaper than direct plans.
The difference between forwarding and direct plans is that direct plans get your products available for sale faster but forwarding plans get your products into Flexport more cheaply. Forwarding plans also increase your fast tag coverage because products are spread to more fulfillment centers.
Flexport calculates the forwarding fee based on freight costs, capacity in forwarding facilities, and size and weights of units. Because freight costs play a large role in the forwarding costs for Flexport, the forwarding fee may differ from one shipping plan to another.
Flexport's goal is make the forwarding cheaper for you than shipping directly to fulfillment centers. If you notice that forwarding costs are higher than direct costs, please contact support.
What is Fast Tag coverage?
Fast Tag coverage is the percentage of continental U.S. buyers who see guaranteed delivery dates on your marketplace listings if you opt into any of the Fast Tag Programs, such as Walmart 2-Day, Shopify 2-Day, Google 2-Day, etc.
You can view the Fast Tag coverage of a SKU by visiting that SKU's Detail page from the Inventory Details page in your account. Simply scroll to the bottom of the page and view the Fast Tag Coverage Map to see Fast Tag coverage by program.
Flexport's forwarding program allows you to pack a single shipment and send it to a Flexport crossdock. The crossdock processes the boxes in the shipment and forwards them to fulfillment centers in the fulfillment network.
In processing, the crossdock chooses where to send boxes based on the goal of maximizing Fast Tag coverage for SKUs in that shipment.
If we recognize the opportunity for improved coverage, we may audit case contents for accuracy and, if needed, redistribute into more boxes. Note, this is not guaranteed and it is recommended to follow the guidance below when packing your products for best results.
If fewer boxes are used for a SKU, then fewer fulfillment centers will receive the SKU and fast coverage will be limited.
As such, when considering how you want to pack your shipment to Flexport, consider that while it might be easier for you to put all SKUs and units in as few boxes as possible, that might result in reduced Fast Tag coverage for your SKUs.
It's important to note:
- We recommend every SKU should be in at least 4 boxes to maximize Fast Tag coverage for that SKU.
- If a SKU is sent in only one box, it will severely limit the Fast Tag coverage for that SKU.
How does forwarding work?
When you send products to Flexport, you create an inbound shipping plan in the Flexport Portal. A part of the inbound process is picking between forwarding and direct shipping plans.
Forwarding plans require you to pack 1 shipment. Once your shipment arrives at the Flexport crossdock, your pallets are broken down at a box level (which is why following labeling instructions is very important!) and boxes are "forwarding" across the fulfillment network. Flexport uses automation and smart software to combine your inbound with other merchants' and drive down the cost for everyone.
On the other hand, direct plans require you pack 1 or more shipments (usually 4), one for each fulfillment center that Flexport will have you ship to. While forwarding it cheaper, direct plans will get your units available for sale faster.
Here are a couple examples to demonstrate:
Example 1: Less Fast Tag coverage
Seller Sam created a forwarding shipping plan for 2 SKUs and 100 units (50 per SKU). Sam packed all of his SKUs and units into 1 box and sent that box to a crossdock. Since there is only 1 box to forward, the 2 SKUs and 100 units will only be 1 fulfillment center. Having SKUs and units only in 1 fulfillment center results in less Fast Tag coverage.
Example 2: More Fast Tag coverage
Seller Sally created a forwarding shipping plan for 2 SKUs and 100 units (50 per SKU). Unlike Sam, Sally packed her SKUs and units into 5 boxes. Each box contains 2 SKUs and 20 units. Since there are 5 boxes, the crossdock is able to forward to more fulfillment centers than in Sam's case (example 1), which results in more Fast Tag coverage for Sally.