Cheaper, Greener, Leaner: Why Zone Skipping Belongs on Your Logistics Radar

Imagine it’s Saturday night and you’re meeting friends for dinner downtown. You don’t want to drive your own car, so you pull up the Uber ride sharing app on your phone where you are faced with two viable alternatives: 

  1. Order an UberX and be the only passenger in the car going directly to your destination. 
  1. Request an UberX Share to split your ride with strangers heading to a variety of destinations all in the same general area. 

If you want to save money, you choose UberX Share. It might take a few minutes longer to get where you’re going (or not, depending on who gets dropped off first), but you’ll pay up to 20% less simply by sharing a ride.

Zone skipping is a lot like UberX Share for packages, but on a much larger scale–imagine hundreds of packages sharing one ride instead of each individual package traveling separately to its unique destination. The positive impact zone skipping has on your shipping costs, in-transit times, and the environment are substantial. 

How does zone skipping work?

Every shipping carrier segments the country into zones that help determine the shipping rates customers pay. The further a destination zone is away from the parcel’s origin zone, the more shipping will ultimately cost. For example, shipping from a warehouse in Toronto over to Nashville will cost less than shipping from Toronto to Houston.  

Now, imagine you have 400 packages to ship from Toronto to destinations in and around Texas. Shipping each package individually to its destination means you’ll pay the appropriate shipping rate 400 times. 

Zone skipping uses freight consolidation to allow those individual packages to skip over the middle-mile logistics. It batches together a large volume of parcels and then ships the batch directly to a single sorting facility in the most advantageous zone. From there, the individual packages get routed to customers via last mile delivery service. With zone skipping you pay a one-time rate to ship to a central facility and then a lower per-parcel rate to get each individual delivery to its final destination.

An infographic with images explaining how zone skipping works and the benefits of zone skipping.
How Zone Skipping Works

How much does zone skipping save?

Freight consolidation costs less for a simple reason: It uses fewer resources to get more packages to one place. Even though there’s an additional cost associated with the final leg of each parcel’s journey to the customer, that cost is always going to be lower than the cost associated with getting a bunch of individual single parcels to the final mile. 

The example below demonstrates how the savings with zone skipping can really add up. 

Traditional shipping400 packages Toronto to TexasZone skipping400 packagesToronto to Texas
🚛 🚛 🚛 🚛 🚛 🚛 🚛 🚛 🚛 
Flat shipping feen/a$500 to sorting hub in Houston
Per package fee$12 x 400 = $4,800$8 local delivery x 400 = $3,200
TOTAL COST $4,800$3,700
Savings with zone skipping can really add up.

Zone skipping saves more than just money

Grouping together parcels that are heading to similar destinations requires fewer transportation resources and that reduces the overall emissions associated with shipping your products. This is an issue that customers increasingly care about. According to a Harris Poll research commissioned by Google Cloud, “66% of shoppers are now seeking out eco-friendly brands, with 55% saying they would pay more for more sustainable products. But these same shoppers are skeptical too: 72% think that companies and brands overstate their sustainability efforts.”

Zone skipping is an effective strategy for showing a measurable commitment to your brand’s sustainability initiatives. You can literally add up the emissions savings and share the data freely with customers, adding messaging to your checkout process, confirmation emails, and even the packing slips that go in their parcels. 

Get a double shot of planet-protecting goodness

Partnering with a logistics provider that also has meaningful sustainability initiatives in place is another way to help meet your brand’s objectives and show customers that your eco-friendly claims have substance behind them. For example, at GoBolt we offer next-day air skip to anywhere we operate in Canada and provide a carbon neutral parcel delivery service. We use our own electric vehicle (EV) fleet in our vertically integrated network. Where deliveries can’t be completed in an EV, we purchase carbon credits to offset emissions. And we’re continuing to rapidly expand into new geographies across Canada and the US. 

To better serve our merchants in markets we don’t yet serve, we work with partners that are closely aligned to our values. We go deep with these partners and integrate our services as best as possible to offer a seamless experience for our merchants.

Customers think sustainable shipping is worth the wait

You may be wondering if building up the parcel density required to make zone skipping work leads to slower deliveries. That’s not necessarily the case. Zone skipping often takes the same amount of time as traditional delivery. It can even be faster, since parcels aren’t forced to travel through more than one sorting facility to get where they’re going. 

Here’s some great news around delivery speed: 54% of consumers in a recent study said they’d accept longer lead times when dealing with a company that placed a higher importance on sustainable delivery. In addition 20% said they would pay more for a delivery from an environmentally friendly company. With the potential to pass on some additional savings to customers by using zone skipping, you can start to build a brand narrative that even the staunchest sustainability warrior can buy into.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re evaluating delivery speed: 

  • Zone skipping services don’t have time-to-transit guarantees. Instead, they typically generalize to a range of days. 
  • There are usually tiers of service with zone skipping, covering a continuum of delivery speeds. Your carrier should be willing to work with you to find the best solution for you and your shoppers.
  • How quickly your packages arrive will depend on the logistics partner you’re working with. Be sure to ask about a potential partner’s transit guidelines to understand how your delivery times will be impacted.

“Uber-smart” shipping includes zone skipping

As the experts continue to debate whether a recession is inevitable, businesses everywhere are battening down the hatches to weather the storm. Even as budgets shrink, customer expectations around sustainability continue to rise. Zone skipping is a proven strategy for reducing both your shipping costs, in-transit times, and your impact on the environment. 

Need more help understanding how to choose the right last mile carrier? This handy guide is a great place to start.