Strategies for urban and rural distribution

Tom Sellin

By Tom Sellin Director of Business Development at King Solutions

box on a conveyor beltFor businesses who operate a supply chain that ships freight nationwide, understanding the differences between shipping items to rural and urban markets is essential. While the end goals of rural and urban distribution are similar, the challenges associated with each vary. It’s up to shippers to implement methods and best practices that are flexible and allow teams to shift strategies based on where their freight is headed.

Challenges of urban distribution
When it comes to urban distribution, many of the challenges that teams face are due to congestion, traffic restrictions and limited truck access. This can slow down the delivery speed and force carriers to offload freight to smaller trucks that are able to navigate busy city streets.

When it comes to warehousing and inventory management, warehouse managers need to be able to handle the heavy amount of freight that passes through daily. This issue is especially concerning during peak seasons when warehouse capacity is often limited.

Urban distribution strategies
Some urban distribution strategies include:

  • Night deliveries: can help cut down on traffic and commuter congestion.
  • LTL consolidation: cutting down on the number of carriers sent into urban areas by consolidating loads and making as few trips as possible.
  • Warehouse location: locating warehouses within or near city limits allows for smaller trucks to carry individual deliveries to crowded city locations.

Challenges of rural distribution
Distribution to rural areas tends to incur more expensive freight charges due to increased fuel usage and many other factors. Because of the increased distance that freight is being shipped, there are also more possibilities that deliveries will be delayed due to construction and other road delays. Increased delivery times also create hurdles for customer service

Shippers also struggle to justify the costs of locating warehouses in rural areas due to the relatively low volume of sales and shipments to low population areas.

Rural distribution strategies
Since it is not cost efficient to expand warehouse locations into areas that require fewer deliveries, shippers have taken to strategies that include:

  • Using data and analytics: understanding where customers are located and the most common items that they are purchasing allows shippers to better plan which items to store in warehouses that are more strategically placed in rural areas.
  • Route planning: choosing the fastest and most efficient route cuts back on costs and shipping time.
  • Outsourcing logistics: when there simply aren’t enough shipments to go out to certain regions, shippers can outsource their logistics to third parties, allowing them to focus on their business strategy.

Greater opportunities
At King Solutions, we have a diverse partner network of carriers that allows us to ship items all across the country. Whether you are looking for urban or rural distribution strategy, our expert team can help you get the most out of your supply chain investment. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.