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Accrued Freight Demystified: Enhancing Financial Management and Decision-Making for Business Success


By Komal Puri | June 22, 2023

When it comes to the success of any business, a crucial component is managing finances - specifically, keeping track of all costs and expenses that a company incurs and ensuring they are paid or booked in a timely manner. Accrued freight is one such cost that many businesses may overlook or not fully understand. However, as we'll explore in this blog post, understanding what accrued freight is and how to manage it can help businesses more effectively manage their finances, improve their bottom line, and make informed decisions for future growth.

What is Accrued Freight?

Accrued freight refers to the amount of freight charges that have been incurred but not yet paid or recorded. When goods are transported from one location to another, there are costs associated with that movement, such as shipping and handling fees, fuel surcharges, and other related expenses. These fees are typically paid to the carrier or shipping company, but there may be a delay between the time when the goods are shipped and when payment is made. During that time, the accrued freight amount represents a liability for the business that will need to be paid in the future.

Why is Accrued Freight Important to Track?

Accrued freight is important to track for several reasons:

  1. Accurate Financial Reporting: Accrued freight represents an outstanding liability that the company owes to carriers for transportation services. Tracking accrued freight allows for accurate financial reporting, ensuring that the company's financial statements reflect the true liabilities and expenses associated with shipping and logistics.

  2. Cost Management and Budgeting: Accrued freight tracking helps companies monitor and manage their transportation costs effectively. By accurately accruing freight expenses, companies can track their actual transportation expenditures, compare them against budgets, and identify any discrepancies or areas where cost-saving measures can be implemented.

  3. Accurate Vendor Payments: Accrued freight tracking ensures that carriers are appropriately compensated for their services. By accurately accruing and tracking freight charges, companies can generate accurate invoices and make timely payments to carriers, maintaining positive relationships and avoiding payment delays or disputes.

  4. Performance Evaluation and Carrier Management: Tracking accrued freight allows companies to assess carrier performance and make informed decisions regarding carrier selection and management. By analyzing accrued freight data, companies can identify carriers who consistently provide cost-effective and reliable services, as well as those who may need performance improvement or renegotiation of rates.

  5. Forecasting and Financial Planning: Accrued freight tracking provides valuable data for forecasting future transportation expenses and financial planning. By analyzing historical accrued freight trends, companies can project future freight costs, allocate budgets accordingly, and make strategic decisions to optimize their logistics operations and financial resources.

  6. Audit and Compliance: Accurate tracking of accrued freight supports audit processes and ensures compliance with financial regulations and reporting standards. It allows for transparency in financial statements and provides necessary documentation for internal and external audits.

How Can Businesses Manage Accrued Freight?

One effective method for managing accrued freight is to track it in an accounts payable system. This system can help businesses stay on top of all outstanding expenses and ensure that they are paid on time. Additionally, it's important to reconcile accrued freight balances regularly to ensure that they match up with actual payments made. Businesses can also work with their carriers to negotiate rates and terms that are more favorable, which can help reduce the amount of accrued freight in the long run.

What Are Some Potential Challenges of Accruing Freight?

Accruing freight can come with several potential challenges that businesses may encounter. Some of these challenges include:

  1. Inaccurate Data: Accruing freight requires accurate and complete data on shipment details, carrier invoices, and associated charges. If the data is incomplete, inconsistent, or contains errors, it can lead to inaccurate accrual calculations and discrepancies between accrued amounts and actual charges.

  2. Complex Rate Structures: Freight charges can involve complex rate structures, including different tariffs, surcharges, discounts, and accessorial charges. Managing and accurately incorporating these various components into the accrual process can be challenging, especially when there are frequent rate changes or complex contractual agreements with carriers.

  3. Fluctuating Fuel Costs: Fuel surcharges are a common component of freight charges, and they can fluctuate based on changes in fuel prices. Accruing freight accurately while accounting for these fluctuations requires regular monitoring of fuel prices and adjusting surcharges accordingly.

  4. Discrepancies and Billing Issues: Billing discrepancies or disputes with carriers can arise, leading to challenges in accurately recording and reconciling accrued freight. Resolving these discrepancies in a timely manner is essential to ensure accurate accruals and avoid financial discrepancies.

  5. Vendor and Carrier Communication: Effective communication with carriers and vendors is crucial for accruing freight accurately. Coordinating with carriers to obtain accurate invoices, reconcile discrepancies, and address billing issues requires proactive communication and collaboration, which can be challenging when dealing with multiple carriers or when communication channels are not well-established.

  6. Changes in Shipping Patterns and Volumes: Accruing freight accurately becomes more challenging when shipping patterns and volumes vary significantly. Seasonal fluctuations or unexpected changes in demand can impact freight expenses, requiring adjustments in accrual calculations to reflect the changing shipping dynamics.

  7. Compliance and Audit Considerations: Accrued freight management involves compliance with financial regulations and reporting standards. Maintaining proper documentation, transparency in financial reporting, and being prepared for audits can pose challenges if proper processes and systems are not in place.

In Conclusion

For many businesses, managing accruing freight charges may seem like a small or insignificant task. However, when you consider the impact it can have on a business's cash flow, overall expenses, and ability to make informed decisions, it's clear that accruing freight is an important financial consideration. By understanding what accrued freight is, why it matters, and how to manage it effectively, businesses can improve their financial performance and set themselves up for long-term success.

Komal puri

Komal Puri is a seasoned professional in the logistics and supply chain industry. As the AVP of Marketing and a subject matter expert at FarEye, she has been instrumental in shaping the industry narrative for the past decade. Her expertise and insights have earned her numerous awards and recognition. Komal’s writings reflect her deep understanding of the industry, offering valuable insights and thought leadership.

Komal Puri
Sr. Director of Marketing | FarEye

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