Untitled design 18

What is Zone Skipping and Why is it Important in E-Commerce?


By Komal Puri | June 22, 2023

eCommerce is rapidly gaining momentum and changing the way people shop. However, the rising demand for faster deliveries has put pressure on the supply chain to deliver products as soon as possible. For retailers struggling with high shipping costs and delivery times, zone skipping has emerged as a popular solution that offers numerous benefits. This blog post aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of what zone skipping is, how it works, its key elements, why it is important in ecommerce, and its impact on the prices.

What is Zone Skipping?

Zone skipping is the process of bypassing certain geographic areas or “zones” in order to reduce the cost of shipping. This can be done by using a parcel carrier that does not serve certain zones or by using a parcel carrier that offers lower rates for certain zones. For example, if you are shipping from the US to Europe, you may be able to bypass certain zones in order to reduce the cost of shipping.

How Does Zone Skipping Work?

Zone skipping is a logistics strategy that involves bypassing intermediate distribution centers or zones to transport goods directly from the origin zone to the destination zone. It is commonly used in cross-border or long-distance shipments to optimize transportation costs and reduce transit times. Here's how it works:

  1. Shipment Consolidation: In the parcel zone skipping process, multiple shipments from different origins that are destined for the same destination zone are consolidated into a single larger shipment. This consolidation helps achieve economies of scale, reduce transportation costs, and maximize cargo capacity utilization.

  2. Origin Zone Processing: Once the shipments are consolidated, they are prepared for transportation in the origin zone. This includes packaging, labeling, and necessary documentation for each individual shipment within the consolidated load. The consolidated shipment is typically assigned a unique tracking number for monitoring its progress.

  3. Direct Transport to Destination Zone: Instead of following the traditional step-by-step distribution process, the consolidated shipment is transported directly to the destination zone. This involves bypassing intermediate distribution centers or zones that would typically handle and process the individual shipments.

  4. Customs Clearance (if applicable): In international zone skipping, customs clearance procedures are conducted at the destination zone rather than at every intermediate zone. The necessary customs documentation and clearance processes are completed at the destination zone, simplifying and expediting the overall customs clearance process.

  5. Deconsolidation and Distribution: Upon reaching the destination zone, the consolidated shipment is deconsolidated. The individual shipments are sorted and prepared for distribution to their respective recipients within the destination zone. This may involve further sorting, labeling, and last-mile logistics to ensure timely delivery.

Benefits of Zone Skipping

Zone skipping offers several benefits for businesses engaged in logistics and supply chain operations. Here are the key advantages:

  1. Cost Savings: It helps reduce transportation costs by eliminating or minimizing the need for intermediate distribution centers or zones. By consolidating shipments and transporting them directly from the origin zone to the destination zone, businesses can achieve economies of scale, optimize cargo capacity utilization, and benefit from lower transportation rates. This cost-saving potential can be significant, particularly for long-distance or cross-border shipments.

  2. Faster Transit Times: By bypassing intermediate zones, zone skipping can significantly reduce transit times. Traditional distribution models involve multiple stops at intermediate warehouses or hubs, which can prolong the overall transportation process. It allows for more direct routes, reducing handling, sorting, and processing time. This results in faster delivery and improved customer satisfaction, particularly for time-sensitive shipments.

  3. Simplified Customs Clearance: In international shipping, zone skipping simplifies the customs clearance process. Instead of going through customs at every intermediate zone, the consolidated shipment undergoes customs clearance at the destination zone. This streamlines paperwork, reduces the number of customs declarations, and minimizes potential delays. Simplified customs clearance can enhance efficiency, reduce administrative burden, and improve overall supply chain agility.

  4. Enhanced Control and Visibility: It provides businesses with better control and visibility over their shipments. Consolidating multiple shipments into a single load enables easier tracking and monitoring. With a single tracking number for the consolidated shipment, businesses can have real-time visibility into the entire transportation process. This allows for proactive issue resolution, accurate updates to customers, and improved overall supply chain management.

  5. Reduced Risk of Loss or Damage: With fewer handling points and transfers, zone skipping reduces the risk of lost or damaged shipments. Each transfer in the transportation process introduces the possibility of mishandling, delays, or accidents. By minimizing intermediate handling, it helps maintain the integrity and security of the goods, resulting in a reduced risk of loss, damage, or theft. This can be particularly advantageous for fragile, perishable, or high-value shipments.

  6. Increased Flexibility and Scalability: It offers flexibility and scalability in logistics operations. Businesses can adapt their shipment volumes and frequencies based on demand fluctuations, optimizing consolidation opportunities. The ability to adjust consolidation strategies enables businesses to respond quickly to changing market dynamics, customer demands, and inventory management needs.

  7. Improved Sustainability: It contributes to improved sustainability in logistics operations. By consolidating shipments and optimizing transportation routes, businesses can reduce carbon emissions, fuel consumption, and overall environmental impact. This aligns with sustainability goals and demonstrates a commitment to responsible supply chain practices.

Key Elements For Successful Zone Skipping

Key elements include consolidation planning, efficient documentation, carrier partnerships, technology integration, and performance evaluation. These elements are crucial for the successful implementation:

  1. Consolidation Planning: Efficient consolidation planning is essential to identify compatible shipments for consolidation. This involves analyzing shipment characteristics, destination zones, and carrier capacities to optimize cargo space utilization and maximize cost savings.

  2. Documentation: Accurate and comprehensive documentation is crucial for smooth ZS operations. This includes shipping manifests, bills of lading, and customs documentation. Proper documentation ensures compliance with regulations, simplifies customs clearance, and minimizes delays.

  3. Carrier Partnerships: Collaborating with reliable carriers experienced in zone skipping is important. Strong partnerships with carriers ensure seamless coordination, timely delivery, and efficient management of consolidated shipments.

  4. Technology Integration: Integration of logistics technology platforms facilitates efficient management of zone skipping. This includes transportation management systems (TMS), track-and-trace capabilities, and real-time visibility tools. Technology integration enhances transparency, enables proactive issue resolution, and provides real-time updates to stakeholders.

  5. Performance Evaluation: Continuous evaluation of zone skipping operations is essential for optimization. Key performance metrics such as cost savings, transit times, customer satisfaction, and compliance rates should be monitored to identify areas for improvement and implement necessary adjustments.

Why is Zone Skipping Important in eCommerce?

Zone skipping plays a significant role in the context of e-commerce due to the unique characteristics and requirements of online retail. Here's why it is important in e-commerce:

  1. Cost Efficiency: E-commerce businesses often deal with a high volume of small-sized shipments. By implementing ZS, these businesses can consolidate multiple small shipments destined for the same zone into larger, more cost-effective loads. This consolidation allows for better utilization of transportation capacity, reduces handling costs, and lowers overall shipping expenses. Cost efficiency is crucial in the competitive e-commerce landscape where margins can be tight.

  2. Faster Delivery: E-commerce customers have come to expect fast and reliable delivery. ZS facilitates quicker transit times by bypassing intermediate distribution centers or zones. By transporting shipments directly from the origin zone to the destination zone, e-commerce businesses can reduce transportation time and eliminate unnecessary delays. This enables faster order fulfillment and enhances the customer experience, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

  3. Inventory Placement Strategy: It enables e-commerce businesses to strategically position inventory closer to the end customers. By consolidating shipments and transporting them directly to the destination zone, businesses can distribute inventory strategically across multiple fulfillment centers or warehouses in different zones. This enables faster order processing and reduces last-mile delivery distances, leading to quicker and more cost-effective deliveries.

  4. Regional Market Penetration: It allows e-commerce businesses to efficiently expand their reach into new regional markets. By consolidating shipments and leveraging direct transportation to specific zones, businesses can enter new markets more easily and cost-effectively. This enables businesses to offer their products to customers in different regions without the need for establishing multiple local distribution centers, thus reducing the barriers to market entry.

  5. Simplified International Shipping: For e-commerce businesses engaged in cross-border trade, ZS simplifies the international shipping process. By consolidating international shipments and conducting customs clearance at the destination zone, businesses can streamline customs procedures and reduce the administrative burden associated with multiple customs declarations. This simplification enables smoother cross-border operations and facilitates international expansion.

  6. Scalability and Flexibility: E-commerce businesses often experience fluctuations in demand and order volumes. Zone skipping provides scalability and flexibility in logistics operations. Businesses can adjust their consolidation strategies based on demand patterns and inventory availability. This adaptability allows e-commerce companies to efficiently handle peak seasons, promotional events, or sudden increases in order volumes, ensuring timely delivery and customer satisfaction.

  7. Competitive Advantage: In the highly competitive e-commerce industry, offering fast and cost-effective shipping is a key differentiator. By implementing ZS, e-commerce businesses can gain a competitive edge by providing faster delivery times and cost savings to their customers. This can attract more customers, enhance brand reputation, and increase customer loyalty.

How Does FarEye Optimize Zone Skipping?

FarEye, a leading logistics technology platform, assists businesses in optimizing their zone skipping operations. Here's how it does:

  1. Consolidation Planning: FarEye's advanced algorithms and analytics capabilities analyze shipment characteristics and carrier capacities to generate optimal consolidation plans. This ensures efficient utilization of cargo space and maximizes cost savings during ZS.

  2. Real-time Visibility: FarEye provides real-time visibility and tracking capabilities throughout the zone skipping process. Businesses can monitor consolidated shipments from the origin zone to the destination zone, enabling proactive management and accurate updates to stakeholders.

  3. Carrier Collaboration: FarEye facilitates seamless collaboration with carriers involved in ZS. The platform allows businesses to connect and communicate with carriers, ensuring smooth execution and minimizing disruptions during transportation.

  4. Automated Documentation: FarEye automates documentation processes, such as generating shipping manifests and customs documentation. This streamlines administrative tasks, enhances accuracy, and expedites customs clearance.

  5. Performance Insights: FarEye's analytics capabilities provide businesses with valuable insights into their zone skipping operations. Detailed performance reports and analytics dashboards enable continuous improvement and optimization of processes.

Komal puri

Komal Puri is a seasoned professional in the logistics and supply chain industry. As the Senior Director 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

Share this article

Open Twitter Share on Linkedin

Related resources

Last mile management
What is Last Mile Management? What are its Benefits?
Read more
Vehicle route optimization
Route Optimization
Vehicle Route Optimization: Modern-day Challenges & Solutions
Read more
3pl last mile delivery
3PL Last Mile Delivery: A Guide to Solve 3PL Last Mile Challenges
Read more