Running a successful business means keeping an eye on expenses, including freight shipping expenses. From transporting raw materials and finished products to equipment delivery costs and transportation charges incurred due to commercial freight shipping arrangements, shipping expenses can quickly add up and significantly affect a company’s bottom line. Understanding which factors influence shipping expenses and devising practical ways to cut them back is integral to remaining competitive in today’s marketplace.

In this article, we’ll look in depth at the factors that impact commercial freight shipping costs. Additionally, we will identify practical methods businesses can use to save money on shipping expenses, such as negotiating rates with carriers, optimizing shipping schedules, and working with logistics providers to manage supply chains. By employing these strategies, businesses can enhance operational efficiencies, decrease expenses, and ultimately enhance their bottom lines.

So, let’s dive in and explore the world of commercial freight shipping costs together!


1.  Weight and density

Weight is the primary determinant of shipping costs, which carriers primarily consider when calculating shipping expenses. The weight helps carriers understand how much space an item will occupy on a truck or plane and the fuel and labor requirements associated with transporting such an order; in general, a heavier shipment equals greater shipping expenses per pound or kilogram transported.

Density refers to how much space an item occupies relative to its weight, so, for example, a shipment of pillows would occupy more room than steel bars of equal weight. Carriers calculate density by dividing their total weight by their volume/size ratio; in relatively light but space-hogging deliveries, this metric may even be charged instead of their actual weight, leading to significant cost increases associated with shipping.

To reduce shipping expenses related to weight and density, you should optimize your packaging by decreasing space in each shipment, using smaller boxes, using minimal packing material, and stacking more efficiently. By decreasing shipment sizes, you can lower weight and density, significantly reducing shipping costs.


2.  Distance

Distance is another critical component of commercial freight shipping costs. Longer journeys increase shipping costs as carriers need to allocate additional resources like fuel, maintenance, and labor to transport the goods safely.

To save on shipping expenses related to distance, you can benefit from either using regional carriers, which specialize in shorter distances and may provide discounted rates, or consolidating shipments, merging multiple smaller packages into one larger order to decrease overall distance and save costs, either independently, through working together with other businesses, or using freight consolidation services.

You can also negotiate lower carrier rates to cut shipping expenses associated with distance. Businesses that frequently ship their goods can sometimes negotiate reduced carrier rates through contracts that guarantee them specific volumes over a set time frame.


3.  Freight classification

Freight classification is a system to calculate shipping rates and costs by product type. The National Motor Freight Traffic Association has designed its National Motor Freight Classification system, which assigns class ratings based on factors like density, stowability, handling, and liability considerations.

The National Merchant Freight Carrier System comprises 18 classes, ranging from 50 to 500. Class 50 represents the least costly shipment option, while class 500 represents its most expensive counterpart. Freight classification systems play a vital role in determining shipping costs based on the product types being transported, with heavy but low-density objects being assigned a higher class rating than dense objects with less mass.

If you want to save on freight classification expenses, accurately classify goods using the National Manufacturer and Freight Classification system based on density, stowability, handling, and liability based on NMFC classification guidelines. Doing this ensures you receive appropriate class ratings, ultimately decreasing shipping expenses.

You may also negotiate lower shipping rates with carriers based on their shipping volume and frequency, such as those offering discounts to high-volume or frequent shippers; this strategy could save you money when dealing with freight classification expenses.


4.  Mode of Transportation

Transportation mode is another vital aspect that determines commercial freight shipping costs. Different modes are available for shipping commercial freight: air, sea, rail, and road transport are among those options available to commercial shippers; which one they ultimately choose can vary based on factors like the nature of the goods being sent, the distance between origin and destination, and the urgency of the shipment.

Each transportation mode offers its advantages and drawbacks, and the costs associated with using it vary accordingly. Air transport tends to be the most costly due to its speed and efficiency, while sea shipping tends to be the least expensive but takes longer. Road and rail transport often fall somewhere in between in terms of both speed and cost efficiency.

To save money on shipping expenses associated with transportation modes, you should optimize your supply chains and logistics operations to identify more economical shipping routes, consolidate deliveries, and work with logistics providers to identify cost-efficient modes.


5.  Fuel Costs

Fuel costs play an instrumental role in commercial freight shipping expenses. Fuel prices may change based on global oil prices, geopolitical events, and supply and demand factors; as fuel expenses escalate, so do shipping costs, which enormously affect a company’s bottom line.

You can reduce shipping expenses related to fuel by optimizing logistics and supply chains to decrease consumption, such as by finding more efficient transportation routes, consolidating deliveries, or opting for vehicles and equipment with fuel-saving properties. You can also negotiate for lower fuel surcharges. Many carriers add a fee to shipping bills to cover fuel expenses; businesses with reduced costs could save considerable shipping expenditures.

Also, try to stay aware of fuel price trends and make appropriate adjustments in terms of shipping strategies. For instance, if fuel prices increase dramatically, you could plan to consolidate shipments to decrease the required trips and save costs by planning early.


6.  Seasons

Seasonal variations can also influence commercial freight shipping costs. Transportation services’ demand can change each season, impacting shipping rates and delivery timelines.

As businesses and individuals ship gifts during the holiday season, shipping service demand rises exponentially, leading to higher shipping rates, longer delivery times, and potential capacity constraints. Similarly, agriculture may need more services during harvest, while the retail sector may demand additional transport during busy shopping.

To cut costs associated with seasonal variations, you should plan and adjust your shipping strategies, such as scheduling deliveries outside peak periods, or exploring alternative transportation modes as necessary.

Collaborating with your logistics providers to develop contingency plans to address unexpected events during peak seasons, like carrier capacity constraints, would be best. It will help if you also take advantage of off-peak carrier rates and promotions by negotiating lower shipping expenses during off-season seasons while guaranteeing safe product transport. By doing this, you can save money on shipping expenses while remaining confident that your goods will arrive intact at their final destinations safely and on schedule.


7.  Disruption

Disruptions to supply chains may include unexpected events such as natural disasters, strikes, or equipment breakdowns, which cause significant delays and increase shipping costs. They affect every step of the supply chain, from transport to warehouse management and distribution.

To reduce shipping expenses related to disruptions, you must invest in technologies that enable better tracking and management of shipments; for instance, real-time monitoring can identify any possible disorders early and help take measures to stop them before they impede shipping operations.

It will also help if you work closely with your logistics providers to develop contingency plans and establish communication protocols during disruptions. Also, ask them to inform you quickly so you can take immediate steps to mitigate its effect on your operations and shipping costs.


8. Accessorial charges and fees

Accessorial charges refer to additional services or costs added to a shipment above and beyond its base rates, such as liftgate services, inside delivery services, or fuel surcharges.

Businesses negotiating rates with carriers should pay particular attention when considering accessories and fees when creating shipping budgets to prevent surprise costs from mounting unexpectedly. Companies should also carefully analyze how such charges impact overall costs as part of a shipment plan before budgeting accordingly.

To save money on accessories and fees, minimize their needs. For instance, arrange to ship to commercial addresses with loading docks to bypass liftgate services while working with customers. Hence, shipments arrive during regular business hours to eliminate residential delivery fees.

As another way of cutting costs on accessory fees, working with a logistics provider with established relationships with carriers who can negotiate more favorable rates and terms on your behalf may save you money on fees. A logistics provider could also identify opportunities to consolidate shipments, reduce transit time, or avoid unnecessary costs.



Every penny counts when running a successful and competitive business today; that is why understanding all the factors impacting commercial freight shipping expenses and finding ways to cut costs are vitally important for all enterprises. By carefully considering all these considerations, businesses may uncover opportunities to optimize shipping operations while cutting expenses and saving money on shipping expenses.

If you are searching for a reliable partnership to optimize supply chain operations and cut shipping expenses, look no further than All Modes Transport. Contact us now and learn about the transportation and logistics services that will allow us to streamline shipping operations while increasing bottom lines and adhering to your budgetary constraints.



1.   What impact will customs and tariffs have on international shipping costs?

Customs and tariffs have the power to significantly impact international shipping costs, as additional fees must be paid to government agencies when goods cross borders. Import tariffs may increase costs when imported, and export duties could lower the profits of exporters. Businesses engaging in global commerce must research the customs laws of each country they trade with before factoring them into their shipping budgets.


2.   How can businesses optimize their shipping strategy in order to minimize expenses?

Businesses can maximize shipping efficiency while cutting costs by employing these practices:

  • Work closely with carriers to secure competitive rates and discounts.
  • Combine packages into larger shipments for optimal volume discounts and lower dimensional weight charges.
  • Improve packaging to reduce wasted space and lower dimensional weight charges, etc.
  • Determine the most economical shipping mode based on destination, weight, and urgency for each shipment.
  • Analyze shipping data in order to identify trends or uncover opportunities for cost reductions in future shipments.
  • Communicate effectively with customers to manage expectations and avoid additional expenses such as rush delivery or special handling fees.


3.   What are some best practices for controlling long-term shipping costs?

Strategies to effectively control long-term shipping costs include regularly reviewing and analyzing shipping data, negotiating contracts with carriers, optimizing routes and schedules as necessary, using technology and automation for efficient processes, maintaining strong communication channels between carriers and customers, and using these techniques for optimizing logistics efficiency.