In the world of trucking and logistics, cross docking is the practice of unloading goods from an inbound trailer and loading these goods directly onto an outbound trailer.  Trucking companies complete this process without sorting the goods in a warehouse between receiving and shipping.

There are many reasons for this type of transfer including:

  • Sorting goods intended for multiple destinations
  • Combing goods arriving from multiple point of origin for transport to a single destination or several destinations along one route
  • Transferring goods from one transport to another (example: switching between large a large trailer to a smaller one

Cross docking procedures were initially developed in the 30’s by the U.S. trucking industry and have remained in continuous use in the LTL (less than truckload) segment of the trucking industry to this day.  Cross docking infiltrated the retail market in the 80’s when Wal-Mart pioneered its use.

In LTL trucking, cross dock operations often involve transferring goods from one vehicle directly into another with no warehousing of those goods.  This process can be used to split tractor trailer loads into multiple smaller vehicles or vice versa.  Cross dock operations may utilize staging areas adjacent to loading docks in a warehouse.

Inbound goods can be sorted, consolidated, and held until the outbound shipment is completely ready to ship.  The goods are not really received to be put into a warehouse and put away but rather they are held in a staging area to await transfer from the inbound loading dock to the outbound loading dock.

Pros of Cross Docking:

  • Streamlines the supply chain from the origination point to the final destination/end user thus resulting in products getting from the manufacturer to the distributor to the customer quickly
  • Decreases handling and operating costs
  • Reduces the storage of inventory
  • Lessens warehousing costs
  • Reduction of fuel costs when consolidating LTL shipments into full loads
  • In the retail sector it may increase available retail space in brick and mortar stores

Cons of Cross Docking:

  • Some potential partners may not have necessary storage for staging areas needed during cross docking operations
  • Other potential partners may not have a large enough trucking fleet to implement cross docking procedures
  • Requires sufficient IT systems to implement
  • Additional freight handling during transit can increase the potential for damaged cargo

In our next installment we will continue our discussion on cross docking and it’s affect on trucking companies and third party freight shipping companies.

Learn more about Matrix Transportation and the transportation services they offer including: dedicated truckloads, JIT truckloads, less than truckload (LTL), same day expedited FTL and LTL, full truckload, warehousing, cross-docking, and trailer rentals at  To contact one of our trucking experts call toll free 888.896.2405 today.




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