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Omnichannel Shipping Gets More Complex When You Mix in Dangerous Goods

Posted on July 09, 2019

You’re working hard to satisfy customers’ demands for fast, free delivery. This means that you are shipping from multiple locations and using multiple carriers to not only get products to customers quickly but to keep costs down as well. However, you realize how difficult managing a decentralized cargo chain can be.

Oh, and on top of that, you need to make sure every shipment is fully compliant with Dangerous Goods (DG) regulations too, adding to the complex management omnichannel shippers are already facing. 

Omnichannel is the new normal

Today’s customers know exactly what they want, and they want it as quickly and inexpensively as possible. That’s why decentralized, omnichannel shipping is the new normal.

But the new normal brings new challenges:

  • Figuring out the most efficient way to pack shipments to reduce the impact of DIM fees from carriers that no longer want to ship air for free   
  • Making sure your shipment is hazmat compliant regardless of where it originates or if you are using a multi-carrier network

These challenges don’t exist independently — in fact, each one can sometimes make the other more difficult.

According to Pierbridge Director of Product Management Mike Graves, cartonization traditionally meant leaving the least empty space, but now it means finding the most efficient way to pack a carton for shipment, so you’re not paying for air in a box that is too big or paying minimums for too many small containers. 

“Sometimes it might be more efficient to combine two smaller boxes into one bigger one, but sometimes the converse might be more efficient,” Graves says. 

The hazards of shipping dangerous goods

As complex as parcel optimization can be, including Dangerous Goods adds a whole new level of complexity.

“Certain Dangerous Goods can’t be packed together. While others may have to be packaged upright,” Graves says.

The shift to omnichannel shipping has also compounded the complexity of hazmat compliance. To facilitate the fastest delivery, shipments in this model are not shipped from a central distribution center where hazmat packaging processes can be monitored closely. To be closer to the customer, shipments may originate from a local distribution center, warehouse, the manufacturer, or from a brick-and-mortar retail store and not undergo the same level of scrutiny.

“There’s not one single compliance officer anymore,” says Graves, who adds that it is often retail store personnel who are now picking and packing shipments. “How do you take that knowledge and enforce it at the store level?”

The answer involves automation to ensure compliance.

Graves cites a major shipper who frequently ships items from a 10,000-store retailer directly to customers. “If there is a Dangerous Goods SKU, the order gets routed through the software to the compliance team for completion and approval. Then it ultimately goes to the store with specifications for the label, packing list, and what box is required,” he says. “All the store employees have to do is collect the documents and put the labels on the box.”

Yes, it’s a brave new world. Get a handle on its complexities and challenges during a joint webinar hosted by Pierbridge and Labelmaster—“How to Stay Dangerous Goods Compliant and Optimize Parcel Shipping in the Brave New Omnichannel Shipping World”—on July 25 at 1 PM EDT. 

This in-depth look at the challenges and solutions for navigating the omnichannel shipping world while handling Dangerous Goods will provide insights on:

  • Meeting customer demands for free and fast shipping 
  • Avoiding inventory outages 
  • Moving closer to the customer 
  • Meeting the demands of decentralized shipping operations: DG compliance, packing for profits, and carrier and rate selection

You will learn:

  • How to avoid fines and penalties by staying DG compliant
  • How to integrate omnichannel shipping through stores, suppliers, and specialized carriers to better manage inventory, speed delivery time, and improve delivery convenience
  • How to pack for success to reduce shipping cost, waste, and unexpected DIM fees
  • How to make the best carrier rate and route decisions for efficient and speedy shipping


This article is exclusive to Pierbridge.com

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