Grocery logistics and freight shipping — the storage,  transport, and distribution of food products — are arguably one of the supply chain’s most complex and vital aspects. Food shipments must arrive on time and in top quality to ensure the products are safe to sell and consume. Any delays or excursions in temperature or humidity put food shipments at risk for spoilage and load rejection.


This blog explores the benefits and challenges of grocery logistics and freight shipping. It provides some best practices for keeping products safe and fresh from the point of origin to the final destination.

Benefits of Grocery Logistics & Freight Shipping

You can chalk up some crucial benefits with a proper grocery logistics plan and prudent freight shipping follow-through. Here a three of them:

Cost savings

Since food is a specialized item to ship, carefully planning all facets of transporting these shipments becomes a key to saving on many fronts. From knowing which type of truck to transport the product to optimizing the route to limit the time the product is in transit to analyzing track costs to find any areas of consistently poor performance, there are plenty of ways to save money.

Streamlined processes

A smooth-moving process depends on clear lines of communication. For instance, with real-time tracking, you can not only keep up with the whereabouts of your transport vehicle but also know whether it is keeping products within the acceptable temperature and humidity ranges — which is crucial to preventing costly spoilage, waste, and load rejection. Today’s technology lets you contact drivers anytime to warn them of excursions while in transit. 

Improved efficiency

Making sure everyone is on the same page and eliminating wasted effort in the planning, transporting, or storing stages are the greatest steps toward improving efficiency. Other areas can affect efficiency — having the ideal equipment that is well-maintained, using reliable drivers with excellent performance records, and ensuring the warehouse is fully aware of what your food product requires during storage and transfer.

Challenges of Grocery Logistics & Freight Shipping 

With the more delicate nature of the products in grocery logistics and freight shipping and the dynamic supply chain world, rising above the disruptions can help you stay on the right path to making timely deliveries and raising your bottom line. Here are some key challenges and how you can overcome them:

Rising Costs

The cost of things is always a consideration but with the volatility of the economy of late, rising prices have become a major concern. But there are a couple of ways to try to limit your expenses:


  • Refine your lane volume: If you are working regularly with a carrier and the loads are generally flowing in the same lane, see if it’s possible for the carrier to market those backhauls. A likely result is that you’ll pay less because the carrier is more efficient. 
  • Develop and strengthen relationships: With capacity becoming tighter these days,  carriers are more likely to focus on moving the freight of companies that are loyal and have reliable volumes. Make sure you keep in constant contact with them and let them know you are going to remain a regular customer.


Managing Shipping Times

When you combine the strains currently being put on the shipping industry with a desire by customers to want products shipped to them faster, shipping times become one of the more important aspects of moving products. Let’s examine a few ways that you can make shipping a less-stressful event:


  • Try using off-peak shipping days: With some grocery products, it’s not possible to delay or push up the shipping date, but many products can be held, such as canned goods. If that is possible, shipping a day later or earlier can often lead to substantial savings. Mondays and Fridays tend to be low-volume days when carriers are looking for freight.
  • Direct store delivery: At distribution centers, goods must be  diverted and then wait at centers before moving to stores. Direct store delivery bypasses the distribution center, reduces shipping time, and provides a fast way to get products on shelves. This can be a valuable approach if the product needs to get into consumers’ hands quickly.

Final Mile Delays 

Most food and beverage transportation issues usually arise in last-mile delivery. Many grocery chains have little pull when it comes to that final portion. Partnerships with shipping and courier networks can make the last mile easier because they can contact delivery carriers who know how to handle reefer and other sensitive loads. Equipped with real-time tracking and near-instant disruption notifications, these experts can move products from distribution centers to the final storefront.

Limited Storage Space 

The limited storage space in many facilities these days becomes an even greater concern for shipments that involve food, especially perishable food. Less warehouse space can mean those shipments do not get the attention they deserve. This concern can be approached from two different angles. The first comes in the planning stages. Pre-shipment communications should include ensuring the warehouse has space for goods that might need special handling and altering the plan if that cannot be assured. The second part is confirming the shipment is being monitored in real-time and that there is a way to alert the warehouse if there is a concern.

Tips for Improving Grocery Logistics & Freight Shipping 

With much to overcome when it comes to shipping grocery freight, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. We have some tips that can help your company improve its performance and make sure your customers stay pleased:

Do Research and Compare Rates

Quality and cost are the two most important factors in almost everything. Grocery logistics and freight shipping is no different. That is why researching who you will be working with — i.e., the partner that can get things done and ensure everything stays on schedule — is vitally important. Among the areas you might want to look into are what kind of history they have, what the reviews have said about their work, and if they have qualities that are specific to your needs. Then there is the other big question: How much will the rates be, and will they work with you on reducing some of those rates if you can provide them with a greater volume?


Once you have picked a partner and worked with them for a certain period of time, you might feel the need to look at other options. Others might offer you a better deal, but it is worth remembering that by switching, you are ending a relationship and will have to start fresh. This is not always the best approach because when shippers develop more strategic, longer-term carrier relationships, they can create advantages that can affect the bottom line. For instance, longer-term contracts give the carrier time to find other customers in the area and create a network that can minimize deadhead miles. A carrier with increased business is more profitable and can afford to give you better rates.

Utilize Technology and Automation

The repercussions of technology and automation in logistics get greater by the day. For the grocery logistics and freight shipping world, the same holds true. Technology is helping grocery logistics solutions try to keep deliveries fast and profitable. Artificial intelligence and machine learning processes are replacing manual work and allowing the workforce to focus on more vital roles. Coordinating with all parties — from distribution center teams to drivers and shippers to grocery management — is less complicated with a single TMS integration for food and beverage transportation.

Optimize Packaging and Delivery

Probably the most elementary changes that can be made come in the form of packaging. New ways to store items while using less-expensive and recyclable packaging are perfect for saving money while still making sure the product is safe. Everything that can be done to make sure a grocery product is prepared for its journey should be one of the first things on a to-do list. A smoother journey likely means a less-expensive delivery.

Let Zengistics Help Your Grocery Logistics Team Hit One Out of the Park 

There are quite a few ways to improve grocery logistics and freight shipping, as discussed in this blog. Money can be saved, processes can be streamlined, and many facets can be enhanced to drive efficiency. With many technological advancements, the food and beverage industry has found many ways to keep up with a supply chain world that is always throwing them curveballs. One of the ways to keep swinging for the fences is to have Zengistics on your team. With a strategic, tech-driven approach that still offers personalized service, Zengistics can solve complex supply chain challenges that other brokerages cannot. To get a freight quote, visit our website now.