What It Means to Have Time Critical Shipments

Time-critical shipments can be defined in many ways. Critical shipping involves urgent and efficient logistics management of goods that must be delivered to the customer within a very specific time frame to reduce or eliminate supply chain issues due to production defaults, accidents, breakdowns, natural circumstances and more. However, providing time-critical services is beyond simply getting a shipment to its destination at a specific time. Many express carriers offer additional services like product visibility through track-and-trace devices, special handling and care, extra security and so on.

There are many factors involved in time-critical shipments and it may require many parties to ensure shipping needs are optimized without compromising service levels.

The likelihood of financial losses and reduction in service levels is high for businesses worldwide if time-critical logistics solutions are not put in place. Hence, companies rely on logistics experts to avoid costs associated with downtime as much as possible. The conditions for this strategy are critical environments, efficient logistics and well-organized procurement programs.

Different Time-Critical Shipments Options

critical-deliveries-scaledThere are different time-critical shipment options available for your time-sensitive needs depending on the urgency of your shipment.

Time-Critical Shipping

Often the term time-critical shipping and expedited shipping are used interchangeably but they are quite different as one is characterised by speed while the other is characterised by strict deadlines. With expedited shipping, products must be delivered fast which can be achieved with same-day delivery. While time-critical shipments must arrive as soon as possible, which means that if the goods are needed in three days, then they only have to be delivered within the window frame of the deadline.

Time-critical shipments benefit many businesses across different industries from the timely delivery rates of a vital part of semiconductors to documents of vital importance which could determine the failure or success of securing a new contract. To seamlessly manage time-critical shipments alongside your logistic partners, there must be effective communication which portrays your clear intent as a business. This helps the logistic providers to deliver on their promises of time-critical services which may include knowing the mode of transportation that best suits your shipping needs (for example, air freight instead of a cargo van) providing enough drivers for a straight truck to avoid the need to stop and rest, hence avoiding failed delivery. About 38% of customers say they’ll never shop with a retailer again following a negative delivery experience, making it all the more important to provide fast shipping every time.

Expedited Shipping

This is a time-critical shipping method that ensures that shipments delivery are prioritized so that they take less time than usual to arrive at their destination examples include next-day delivery, overnight delivery and so on. It is relative to how long the standard shipping method takes which varies according to the logistic partner, the distance the goods are being shipped from and to, and the mode of transportation. For example, a standard shipping time can take days, weeks or even months depending on the distance and mode of transport. And since expedited shipping is relative to standard shipping, it may take hours, days or weeks for delivery times, as long as it’s faster.

Though faster delivery time has its advantages and often may put the brand on the customers’ good side because it leads to customer satisfaction which in turn leads to brand loyalty and increased sales. It is however important to weigh the pros and cons of offering expedited shipping for your customers.

Pros of Expedited Shipping

  1. The need for storage space is reduced; if storage is a concern for your business, Shipping out goods as quickly as possible may be a great way to clear out some space, mainly if you sell bulky or highly-valued items.
  2. The biggest advantage of expedited shipping is its speed and guarantee. This timeliness not only ensures customer satisfaction but also boosts loyalty and sales.
  3. Lower risks of damages due to less handling because expedited shipments make fewer or no stops along their delivery routes. Again, this makes it an attractive option for businesses that deal in fragile goods.

Cons of Expedited Shipping

  1. Expedited shipping incurs an extra shipping cost which may quickly eat into your profit margin unless you sell high-ticket items and can easily offset some or all of the cost to your buyers.
  2. Not all delivery companies offer expedited shipping which may affect some businesses whose nature of items are time-sensitive such as perishable goods and medical supplies.

White-Glove Delivery Services

While this method may not entirely require a time-critical delivery date, it is however the delivery approach used for commodities with specific needs. It is also a way to inject additional values into the freight delivery process which includes but is not limited to protective packaging for fragile items using premium packaging materials, product assembly or dismantling and delicate handling by courier services.

Many business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies often use white-glove delivery services to ensure the safe and speedy delivery of goods. And white-glove service is critical for certain events when items must arrive at a specific location at a specific time. For example, a bakery business can maintain the fresh, delicious reputation of their baked goods, expensive medical and lab supplies such as MRI equipment and lab specimen refrigerators can be kept secured and sterile using a white-glove delivery service. Other products that benefit from white-glove delivery are electronic devices, home appliances and furniture, automotive and aviation, retail and e-commerce stores. For these businesses, the ability to get their products to customers as quickly and safely as possible makes all the difference.


The current events surrounding your business will help in making an informed decision on the option of time-critical shipments to adopt. At Macmillan Supply Chain Group we offer a variety of cost-effective customized solutions for critical deliveries beyond all modes for your transportation needs. Whether you need the fastest route for your critical freight or you need an expert opinion to make sure your supply chain is optimized and cost-effective. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, you can reach us at 416-941-2759 or by clicking here.

MacMillan Supply Chain Group Elevate Your Logistics Experience

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Meet the Author:



Kate Nowak isn't your typical author. With a career that's as diverse as the landscapes she's traversed, Kate embodies the spirit of the Canadian supply chain and transportation industry. Her passion for global trade burns brightly, fueled by firsthand experience across every facet of the logistics world.
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