This is a regular discussion topic in the various forums. Should I only buy manifested loads or is unmanifested worth it? Honestly, to each their own. But, I have a few thoughts which I wanted to put out here. First, everything said below is 100% dependent upon whether or not you are working with a reputable seller. If you are working with an underhanded seller, then no guidance can be consistently reliable.
Manifested loads help buyers decide whether the load is worth the cost they are paying for their desired reselling purpose. Some of the benefits and risks are below:
Manifested Load Benefits
- If you are looking for a specific type of product (price point, category, size, etc.), a manifest can give you an idea of what the truck is made of. This can be super helpful for buyers to ensure they do not get a large amount of product from a category outside their area of focus.
- If you are a smaller buyer that does not buy a huge number of loads, this can help mitigate your risk.
- Generally, with manifested loads, they are in a warehouse where you could go view them if you choose to.
- Manifests offer some psychological comfort, if nothing else.
So, why then, with all of the benefits of manifested loads, do many large, established buyers choose to purchase unmanifested loads over manifested loads? Manifested loads are not all rainbows and butterflies.
Manifested Load Risks
- If a load is received where one or several of the expensive items on the manifest are broken or missing, it will deteriorate the value of the load.
- The manifested retail value has been inflated from what it actually is.
- The percentage of the retail price paid per item is generally higher than with unmanifested items.
- Manifests are rarely going to be 100% accurate in this industry, so that must be accounted for.
- Loads are generally going to be more expensive because (1) more labor has been used during the processing/manifesting, and/or (2) the load will have already been shipped once, so more freight costs have to be covered by the load cost.
- Many times, the load will have been cherry-picked by either the seller or the retailer. Whoever is performing the manifesting is doing the manifesting for a reason, and it is not for the convenience of the buyer.
- Limited upside. With limited risk comes limited upside. Because the load is manifested, you are probably not going to receive a load that results in huge upside, because the load’s value has already been priced into the load.
Unmanifested loads are so heavily favored by some buyers that they are the only thing those buyers purchase. Are they crazy or do they understand something?
Unmanifested Load Benefits
- Supply volume. Many times you are able to get a higher quantity of these loads faster. Because of this, larger sellers that have a need for more volume can supply their stores.
- Buyers that buy larger numbers of these loads can play the averages. A bad load will be averaged out by a really good load.
- No one knows what is in the load. It has not been cherry-picked.
- Billed at a flat cost, so no damaged or missing expensive item can hurt the load value.
- Generally, these are cheaper loads due to the increased risk, less labor and less freight.
Unmanifested loads certainly have some benefits, but there are most certainly some risks, ESPECIALLY for lower volume buyers.
Unmanifested Load Risks
- Getting a bad load that is overloaded with seasonal, damaged product, or just not nearly as described.
- Working with an underhanded seller that lists loads as unmanifested so they can unload their junk or stick you with a truck not as described (Ex. an all seasonal load sold as an all GM load)
- The Hard Truth: 95% of the time, this is the buyer’s fault for not researching the seller more thoroughly. I am certainly not condoning the underhanded sellers’ practices. However, there is more than enough information in the marketplace about the legitimate sellers in the industry. No one who has done their research, should ever have to wonder whether the person they are buying from is legitimate or not. If you have that question, do more research and ask the message boards directly for feedback on that seller!
If you have any questions, experiences, or would like to disagree with any of these statements, certainly let us know! These articles are being created for the education and awareness of everyone and to create some good discussions!
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