Travels of a T-shirt—on Its Way to a Nordstrom Department Store

Ever wondered how that T-shirt you bought made its way from the factory to the store?

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Ever wondered how that T-shirt you bought made its way from the factory to the store? Most likely, it was thanks to the work of a freight forwarder that handles the logistics involved in getting goods to their endpoints. Let’s say that a factory in the South China city of Dongguan wants to send a shipment of T-shirts to Nordstrom. Assume that the order is not big enough to fill an entire shipping container, so it’s sending an LCL—less than container load.


  1. The factory sends a message to Flexport through its online portal indicating when the cargo will be ready for pickup.

  2. Flexport messages a trucking company through this portal to pick up the T-shirts from the factory.

  3. A truck delivers the T-shirts to Flexport’s consolidation warehouse— cross dock—in Yantian, about 50 miles away. Workers at the cross dock load the containers. (About 10 customers’ items per consolidation is common.)*
    * Flexport’s software builds the consolidation, by combining LCLs to match the volume of the container.

  4. Flexport software messages a trucking company specially equipped to transport shipping containers. 

  5. A truck takes the container to the port— gates in. 3 Flexport’s software generates the bill of lading, which is like a ticket that allows the cargo onto the ship. 

  6. At the port, the container with the cargo is loaded onto the ship.

  7. While the ship is in transit, Flexport uses its software, which is integrated into US customs software, to preclear the T-shirts through customs. It tracks the ship with its dashboard, the dashboard also enables the customer to follow the shipment, and hires a truck to gate out the container.

  8. At port, the container is unloaded from the ship.

  9. A truck arrives at the port to gate out the container and deliver it to Flexport’s cross dock in Los Angeles.

  10. At the LA cross dock, a crew unpacks the items from the container. Flexport software contacts a trucking company to pick up the T-shirts and deliver them to the Nordstrom warehouse.

  11. A truck arrives at the Flexport warehouse and completes the delivery of the T-shirts to the Nordstrom warehouse.

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