What is Zone Skipping? How Does it Benefit Your eCommerce Store?

Zone Skipping

Ecommerce businesses constantly seek to cut shipping costs without compromising shipping speed and customer experience.

It is always tempting to find the cheapest carrier to ship orders. If you aim to reduce shipping costs and meet customer needs, you also need to think through an effective shipping strategy.

One effective strategy that eCommerce businesses often implement is a shipping concept called “zone skipping.”

When implemented the right way, zone skipping can significantly lower cost of shipping and improve delivery TAT. This approach is about bypassing specific zones to combine orders and bring down the freight touch points. 

When you successfully apply zone skipping, it can help your eCommerce business improve its process of order distribution, resulting in more customer satisfaction and reduced logistics costs.

Let’s Define Zone Skipping.

As the term ‘Zone skipping’ suggests, with this shipping strategy, eCommerce businesses skip zones during shipping and order distribution processes. While doing so, a business eliminates a time-consuming step from the distribution network, and eventually reducing shipping costs.  

This process involves shipping consolidation in a similar geographic area and shipping packages close to a delivery hub or sorting facility, skipping numerous zones to save logistics time. 

Rather than shipping parcels separately packages through the several existing zones, eCommerce businesses send bigger combined shipments to a hub near the endpoint. From there local distribution happens.

This method is useful for eCommerce businesses with high shipping volumes in various locations. 

Zone skipping can shift the focus from several small, multi-zone shipments to fewer, larger shipments that move with consolidated packages in bulk. Later it breaks down the shipments into smaller elements close to the package destinations. 

This method works well in minimizing potential loss in transit or damage, reducing complexity, and optimizing transportation to meet customers’ delivery expectations.

Why Is Zone Skipping Important in E-Commerce?

Zone skipping has become quite important in eCommerce business for several reasons. 

As the eCommerce industry keeps growing, and more consumers expect faster and cheaper shipping, they need something innovative to meet these demands without sacrificing profitability. 

Here’s why zone skipping is crucial in eCommerce:

1. Reduced Shipping Costs

Ecommerce businesses operate on thin margins, and high shipping costs can affect their profitability. Zone skipping brings down the number of zones a shipment passes through, and lowers the per-package cost a carrier charges based on distance and handling. 

This method of saving cost can be critical in competitive markets where price is a crucial factor in consumers’ shopping choices.

2. Faster Delivery 

These days, consumers expect faster deliveries, like the same-day or next-day delivery. 

Zone skipping reduces the zones during the shipment of packages. It reduces the distance they travel through the carrier’s network, enabling faster delivery times. 

This improved order delivery capability can make a lot of difference in eCommerce business.

3. Scalability

As eCommerce businesses grow, they face the challenge of order volume spikes and the spreading of customers geographically. 

Zone skipping provides eCommerce businesses the scalability to grow with the company. It does that by handling higher volumes without increasing complexity or shipping costs.

4. Improved Inventory Management

Ecommerce businesses can do more efficient inventory management by using regional warehouses or distribution centers and according to regional demand patterns. 

It can result in more efficient use of stock, reduced overstocking, and lower instances of stock outs, all of which contribute to a more robust bottom line.

5. Reduced Carbon Footprint

The result of zone skipping often is visibly fewer trucks on the road and fewer travel distances. It contributes to lower carbon footprints. This helps eCommerce businesses meet their sustainability objectives in the long run and also appeals to environmentally-conscious consumers.

6. Improved Customer Experience

By offering faster deliveries and reduced shipping costs, eCommerce businesses can significantly improve customer loyalty and experience. 

Happy customers are likely to make repeat purchases and also recommend the eCommerce store to friends, relatives, and colleagues. It will drive both new customer acquisition and repeat business.

What are the Most Common Zone Skipping Techniques?

A common zone-skipping technique is consolidating your packages through the carrier and transporting them to the carrier’s sorting facility in the area of destination. 

Inventory distribution and getting the orders shipped from the nearest location to the destination is another similar zone shipping strategy.

How Does Zone Skipping Work?

As mentioned earlier, zone skipping is a logistics strategy that bypasses intermediate zones or distribution centers to ship goods directly from the origin to the destination zone. 

This strategy is common during long-distance or cross-border shipments to optimize logistics costs and reduce transit times. 

Here’s how zone skipping works:

Consolidating Shipment

In the zone-skipping process, various packages from different origins are getting shipped to the same destination zone, and are consolidated into a single larger shipment. 

The consolidation helps reduce transportation costs, maximize the utilization of the cargo capacity, and achieve economies of scale.

Origin Zone Processing

After consolidating the shipments, they are prepared to transport to the origin zone. 

During the process, packaging, labeling, and essential documentation are done for each package within the consolidated load. The consolidated shipment is then assigned a unique tracking number for monitoring its movement.

Direct Transportation to Destination Zone

In this step, the consolidated shipment is transported directly to the destination zone, instead of following the traditional step-by-step distribution process. 

The process involves bypassing intermediate zones or distribution centers that would have otherwise handled and processed the individual package.

Customs Clearance (if any)

In the process of international zone skipping, the customs clearance process is conducted at the destination zone rather than at every intermediate zone. 

Completing the essential customs documentation and clearance processes at the destination zone simplifies and expedites the overall customs clearance process.

Deconsolidation and Distribution

Once the consolidated shipment reaches the destination zone, it gets deconsolidated. 

The individual packages are sorted and get ready for distribution to their recipients within the destination zone. This may require additional sorting, labeling, and last-mile logistics to ensure timely delivery.

Advantages of Shipping Zones 

Zone skipping provides several benefits for eCommerce companies seeking to streamline their shipping and order distribution system. Here are a few notable benefits:

1. Lower Cost of Shipping

A key advantage of zone skipping is bringing down costs of logistics. By sidestepping several zones, retail companies can dodge the expenses involved with every zone’s processing and handling charges. 

Combining packages into multiple, larger batches also improve the capacity utilization of resources related to logistics, such as full utilization of a vehicle’s space, which reduces the shipping cost per unit.

2. Increased Delivery Speed 

By skipping zones, a retail business can drastically reduce total delivery timelines. Since packages moves directly to the nearest hub of the endpoint, the time to transport it is reduced. Receiving the orders quicker makes customers happy, which is crucial in a business.

3. Minimal Risk of Damage 

Since there are only a handful of touchpoints during transportation, the hassle of managing parcels separately will be less. It lowers the possibility of items getting damaged. It is crucial for brittle or high-priced products that are vulnerable.

4. Flexibility

For eCommerce businesses that are experiencing fluctuating demand or growth, the zone skipping strategy provides flexibility. 

It enables online retail businesses to manage their order transportations to handle volume spikes without much disruption or increase in costs.

5. Enables Efficient Inventory Management  

By applying zone skipping, eCommerce companies can manage their inventory more efficiently by distributing items depending on demand patterns. 

This localized tactic to manage inventory helps stopping stockouts and overstocking, and reducing the costs of storage.

6. Environmental Benefits

By streamlining shipment routes and reducing the number of trucks required to transport items, zone skipping can lower carbon footprints. 

It helps with both long-term environmental goals and also makes consumers happy.

Examples of Zone Skipping

Here we will check out a few examples of zone skipping through practical application that shows how various retail trading company apply this strategy effectively:

Large Virtual Retail Product Seller

A large retailer that operates online can utilize the zone-skipping strategy to streamline order management.

Fashion eCommerce Business

Virtual fashion businesses witnessing high demands in certain areas can optimize deliveries using zone skipping. .

Distributor of Electronics Items

Distributors of electronics items can minimize the cases of product damage during transit by applying zone skipping method. 

Transporting multiple items nearest the endpoint and managing them cautiously close to customers can reduce the damage risk during handling phases.

Seasonal Products Company

Companies that specialize in selling seasonal items, like holiday decorations, can manage their peak season order volume increase efficiently with zone skipping. 

Getting bulk parcels ready to specific locations during the peak demand ensures seamless last-mile deliveries.

Subscription Box Service

Ecommerce companies that offer subscription boxes can use zone skipping to streamline delivery schedules. 

Bulk packages to regional distribution centres close to the subscriber bases ensure timely deliveries irrespective of location disparities.

The Right Shipping Partner Can Save You a Fortune

Creating a shipping strategy that reduces shipping costs and meets customer demands on fast, can be a challenge.

A logistics partner like ShippingChimp can help you save up to 53% on shipping costs by strategic zone skipping.

Once orders start coming from your online store or other sales channels, you can ship orders from the fulfillment center nearest to the customer’s location.

This approach can significantly reduce delivery turnaround times and shipping costs.

Revathi Karthik
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