Pricing 101: Fine Art Shuttles

A key tenet of our mission is to bring a new level of transparency to fine art shipping, particularly as it relates to pricing. In the first of a series of blog posts geared to educate about industry pricing, we share some key factors that contribute to how rates are derived for routine fine art shuttle shipments (meaning a climate controlled, air ride, dual driver truck operated by fine art technicians, and the primary method for transporting specialized objects within a single country), as well as how ARTA is able to secure the most competitive rates.


In order to provide a standard, base rate, shippers first consider volume. Volume can be priced out in a variety of ways, but the most commonly used metric is “per cubic foot” over a given distance, with a few notable exceptions.

Most shipping companies have a minimum rate for cubic volume. (For example, it could cost the same amount to ship a small flatwork as it is to ship a medium-to-large flatwork for a particular company.) Unusable space (no-stack, ride flat or open top c-bins) is also considered as part of the volume an object takes up within the vehicle. For companies that primarily handle flatworks in racks, there will be a higher rate for depths (as it limits the amount of flatworks they can take) rather than length.


Typically, a shuttle truck is staffed with a team of two handlers, and a shipper’s base rate assumes this shuttle team can capably handle the work during on- and off-loading. Overweight or oversize objects that require additional assistance and/or equipment will add additional costs to the base rate. Other limitations at the collection or delivery location, such as not having a dock, requiring a long carry (if the truck needs to park away from the location) or flights of stairs without elevator availability, can add additional costs to your rate as well.

Discounted rates

How can you reduce your shuttle rates? The two primary factors that contribute to better, lower pricing are loyalty discounts and consolidation.

Loyalty programs can be negotiated by a company with a shipping vendor and reflect a high volume of repeat business. To encourage repeat customers as part of these programs, shipping companies often offer a discount on shuttle rates or regional promotions.  

You might be also aware that shipping more than one piece together from nearby pick up and delivery locations results in a lower rate, but why? By consolidating multiple shipments onto one shuttle, a shipping company is able to maximize their resources and as a result, discount rates for individual shipments. In order to accommodate various pick up locations, while still offering consolidated shuttle rates, companies will charge a ‘Stop Fee’ for each pick up within a single city, then offer a single reduced rate for all the items to their destination.

ARTA has a strong, synergistic relationship with each of our shipping partners. We streamline their operational processes by acting as a single billing party, helping to fill up trucks that might be low on volume, ensuring they have all the information they need to quote in a timely manner, and ensuring they get paid on time. Coupled with the fact that we are coordinating a high volume of shipments on behalf of hundreds of users, ARTA negotiates loyalty discounts and secures consolidated rates. Both of these factors enable us to offer the most competitive costs to our users.

ARTA’s approach to pricing

itemized quotes

At ARTA, we believe in knowing exactly what you are paying for. Instead of providing one lump sum for every quote, we itemize the cost of each service requested and make it easy to add or subtract services. In the example below, if you were to decide you actually don’t need installation when you are ready to book, simply uncheck the box for that line item. The total cost of the quote will update in real time and you are ready to accept and pay.

An example of what an itemized quote might look like in your ARTA dashboard

service fee

Now you know how we are able to provide the most cost-effective rates for our users, but how does ARTA make money? ARTA charges a small percentage fee on every shipment, and in keeping with the theme of transparency, we include this on a separate line item in every quote. Given the strong discounted rates we have negotiated with our shipping partners, our users find that even with a service fee, they save anywhere from 5-20% versus a direct-to-vendor quote.

Check out the second post in this series, detailing the factors that contribute to an international shipping rate.

Latest posts by Meredith Blechman (see all)

About ARTA

We provide end-to-end logistics solutions for merchants and marketplaces worldwide.

We’re continuously evolving our e-commerce infrastructure for the global collectibles industry through automated transaction, fulfillment, and post-purchase technology.

ARTA’s software provides instant shipping and handling quotes for any item type, regardless of size, material, or price point. Our API automates shipping and fulfillment for high-value items, providing a frictionless purchasing experience for our clients’ buyers.