Everyone has shipped something. Usually you go stand in line at UPS, FedEx, or USPS to get your package sent to its intended destination. Both consumers and retailers are most familiar with parcel shipping, and, occasionally, freight shipping. Rarely do people consider the multiple service types available when shipping large or oversized items, especially furniture. However, there is a service level that could be a furniture retailer’s secret weapon: blanket wrap shipping.

Blanket wrap shipping is broken out into two types of  carriers: new furniture and new/used furniture. This method of shipping differs from other traditional carriers because the items can be picked up and unpacked from any location, including a manufacturer, showroom or home. Instead of using expensive packing materials, the product is wrapped in blankets and secured to the truck with straps.

The types of freight picked up by blanket wrap carriers includes: new unpacked furniture, sensitive equipment, and used, unpacked furniture. Furniture companies—such as manufacturers, designers, re-sellers, antique stores, boutique furniture companies, online marketplaces, and individuals looking to move shipments less than 1,500 pounds—are the biggest blanket wrap shippers.

Blanket wrap is the future of furniture shipping for a few reasons:

  • Since it does not require packaging, blanket wrap is the most environmentally sustainable method of shipping and saves money on packing materials.
  • A recent ruling in the freight community caused a 30% increase in cost to the customer when shipping used household goods/furniture from class 100 to 150, making blanket wrap a potentially more cost effective alternative.
  • Blanket wrap is the lowest risk method available to retailers. All products shipped through a blanket wrap carrier will be on a truck with similar goods, whereas before, if that beautiful unpackaged armoire was on a regular freight carrier tuck, it could be sitting next to a shipment of bricks, which greatly increases the odds of damage.

Blanket wrap shipping does have its limitations. The biggest downside to blanket wrap shipping is the time it takes to deliver. The overall ship time takes longer since blanket wrap carriers hand-load and strap each piece, and the trucks make multiple stops along the way. Another downside to blanket wrap shipping is poor tracking capability, since often they are smaller carriers with minimal technology.

Despite the slower delivery and inability to gauge accurate shipping timeframes, there is a huge upside to using blanket wrap carriers, which starts with technology. As the blanket wrap carrier network grows there will be more consolidation points, which will expedite transit times. This will enable online marketplaces, like Chairish, to have their shipments consolidated at one point instead of an indiscriminate number of warehouses, directly impacting the growth of this type of online retailer.

Furthermore, the growth of blanket wrap carriers will help retailers get rid of their overstock, since the extra furniture will be more easily sold and shipped online. Blanket wrap carriers will also be a tremendous boon to the reverse logistics of furniture retailers.

Ultimately, these types of furniture marketplaces and furniture retailers will be able to grow their businesses with shipping automation and technology. Currently, ShipHawk is the only shipping API that automates with multiple blanket wrap carriers.