Just like you’d need a Sherpa to make it over the Himalayas, you need a 3PL partner that knows the Route. So what exactly is a Routing Guide?

You’d be forgiven if you thought this article might be about how to hire a Sherpa when attempting a climb through the Himalayas, or maybe some sage advice on choosing a professional wilderness Guide if you’re planning on a trek through the Amazon, but nope, in fact, it’s about your business. That’s right, if you’re shipping products to retailers, wholesalers or any B2B endpoint, you need to know about Routing Guides or you could run the risk of a pricey misadventure.

Routing Guides are documents provided by retailers that stipulate the rules and requirements for shipping products from suppliers to retail locations and other end customers (like wholesalers). Routing Guides hold shippers responsible for adhering to these sets of rules. From specific carriers that might need to be used, to rates and service requirements, Route Guides are designed to maintain uniformity of packaging, labeling and shipping freight.

Inbound Routing Guides are critical to 3PLs, allowing them to properly route shipments to the customers or retailers and prevent things like mislabeling, late shipments, high transportation costs and more.  Routing Guides exist to streamline supply chain operations, reduce costs, ensure shipments are done correctly and overall enhance partnerships.

All “big box retailers” from Costco to Walmart to Home Depot all have their own Routing Guides with precise requirements, as well as the penalty charges when routing instructions are not followed.

Chargebacks and penalties can occur when:

  • The packing slip is in the wrong place
  • The wrong terminology is used
  • SKUs are mixed
  • Price is not on each item
  • Shipping label in wrong place

Some vendors even reserve the right to reject an entire purchase order if the Routing Guide is not followed exactly. Additionally, Routing Guides are constantly changing and being updated, so it’s extremely important to keep on top of these changes. Knowing how to manage various Routing Guides and make sure that you are avoiding steep chargebacks is vital to your business’ success.

At Go Direct, we’ve got the exactly the right expertise to apply and adhere to complex Routing Guides from every major retailer, so we can handle it for you, while you can focus on your business.

So, if you’re planning a trek over the Himalayas then definitely you’ll want to invest in a Sherpa, but if you’re looking to deliver your brand on time with no penalties to Walmart or Costco, drop us a line.


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