How to Get an Accurate Shipping Quote

How to Get an Accurate Shipping Quote

Have you ever received a shipping quote from a carrier, then get billed for a different amount once the shipment was complete? In this article we will look at what information and details you can provide your carrier to help you get a more accurate shipping quote.

It’s All About the Details

To get an accurate shipping quote you will need five pieces of information about your shipment that every shipping company requires. The five things are:

  • Shipment specifics (Quantity, weights, and dimensions)
  • Commodity or product description
  • Pickup and delivery locations
  • Service Level
  • Assessorial(s)


Let’s look at each component and why they are important.


  1. Quantity, weights, and dimensions: These are the specific physical attributes that make up your shipment. When determining quantity, make sure to note if your freight will be on skids/pallets, or loose boxes. The difference between twenty boxes or one skid (with 20 boxes on it) impacts how shipments are routed. It is equally important that each unit is weighed and measured accurately after it has been packaged for shipping, ie placed on a skid. The industry standard for listing dimensions of a shipment is length, width, then height or L x W x H. Note: Once a carrier picks up the shipment, they will often count, weigh, and measure it themselves. If the details are different than what was provided, additional charges may be applied.
  2. Commodity or product descriptionThis is a description of what you are shipping. This information is used to determine the freight classification and if any other special provisions are needed (example: hazardous material, fragile, high value…etc.). Note: For domestic shipments or merely for a freight quote, the description can be general such as ‘electronic equipment’ or ‘fabric,’ however, on the international side, the description should be more specific (example: GPU’s, enclosures…etc.) and will also have to align with a Harmonized Code according to the World Customs Organization.
  3. Pickup and delivery locations: For quoting purposes, providing your carrier just pickup and delivery zip codes will generally suffice, in addition to any special details about the location (example: dock hours, special equipment needs, residential area…etc. When it comes time to actually book a shipment, the complete information will need to be provided including the full address, company name (if going to a business address), contact person, and contact information.
  4. Service Level: The service level is how quickly you need to have your shipment picked up and delivered, for example next day, 2 day, 3 day, or economy. Depending on the distance between pickup and delivery locations, as well as if your shipment is domestic or international, your options will very. This will also determine which modes of transport a carrier may suggest, for example air vs ocean transport.
  5. Assessorial(s):An assessorial is any extra service you need to complete a pickup or delivery. An example of an assessorial is a shipment picking up or delivering to a residential address. This is a special service because most trucks pick up and deliver to loading docks. Since residential addresses do not have loading docks, a truck with a lift-gate will be needed. A lift-gate is a piece of equipment installed on the back of a truck. It can be raised or lowered to lift freight up to the truck’s door. Other assessorial services can include inside delivery, packaging debris removal, and after hour deliveries.


Providing this information will help your carrier get a full understanding of your shipment and help them to give an accurate quote and appropriate shipment options. If you need any shipping and logistics help, contact Ark for help.