WHAT IS A BOL / Bill of Lading and How to Get One
Posted by Big Brand Wholesale.com on 8th Feb 2020
Are you trying to figure out what a BOL is and where to get a BOL? In this article we will discuss what a Bill of Lading is and how to locate yours!
To begin, there are two important words you need to understand:
In the wholesale world, Freight typically applies to merchandise shipped on a pallet which is shipped on a semi truck, this is often called “Ground Freight” or “Road Freight”. BUT there is also Air Freight (merchandise shipped on planes), Rail Freight (shipped on trains) and Ocean Freight (Cargo Ships!). If you are in the USA and ordering from in the USA, you are typically going to have your pallets shipped via Road Freight. If you are international and using a Freight Forwarder, this is usually going to involve Ocean Freight. FREIGHT IS NOT MAIL.
Mail is not delivered on a pallet, ever. Mail is what the carrier walks to your door and hands you or puts in your mail box. Sometimes you have to pick up Mail from the post office. Mail can be a single parcel or a truck full of boxes / parcels:
The difference between the Mail and Freight is (mostly) the wood pallet:
If you want your merchandise shipped on top of the wood pallet, it MUST go freight. If you want to save money and not ship it on a regular pallet, you can order through companies like BigBrandWholesale.com and it will ship via Standard Mail.
Ok, now that we explained the difference between Freight and Mail, let's get to the meat and potatoes of this article (YUM!):
When you order inventory online, you should know upfront if the merchandise is being shipped Freight or Standard Mail. Our company, BigBrandWholesale.com, ships through USPS. When someone places an order we provide the customer with an Email Confirmation, an Invoice and a Tracking Number. The invoice acts as a Document of Title; basically, the invoice says that YOU now own whatever you purchased. Since the merchandise is shipping standard mail, we do not need to hire a freight company. We simply print postage and USPS acts as a carrier. USPS does not ever know what you purchased, how much you paid or any other details about your investment; they just transport it from A-to-B.
Whereas if you purchase merchandise from a different company that ships on a pallet via Freight, the company hires a Freight Company to pick up the pallets from them and drive the pallets across the country to you. When the seller hires the freight company there is a BOL (Bill of Lading) that is receipt of freight services. The BOL will basically say “there’s two pallets in this shipment. Total weight 987 pounds. Being shipped from Michigan to Florida” and so on. The freight company needs to know all about what you purchased, how much it costs, etc so they can correctly tabulate the shipping and insurance cost. A BOL is NOT a Tracking Number. Freight typically does get “Tracking Numbers” but they are instead called PRO Numbers. Learn about Pro Numbers in our article What is a PRO Number and How to Find One
WHAT DOES A BOL LOOK LIKE?
Here’s a great example of a BOL from UPS.com
SO, HOW DO I GET THE BOL?
The BOL will be provided to you by whomever you purchased the merchandise through if it shipped via Freight. The BOL usually includes the PRO Number. To learn about PRO Numbers, check out our next article What is a PRO Number and Where to Get One.
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