FTL Versus LTL: Which One Should You Choose?

FTL shipping

When it's time to ship products out to your customers, you have several shipping options. And since there are so many options to choose from, it can seem like an overwhelmingly complex decision, with an equally complex process behind it.

The truth is… it’s actually a really simple process, and you only have to make one equally simple choice.

The two most common shipping methods used today are Less Than Truckload (LTL) shipping, and Full Truckload (FTL) shipping. Both of these methods are pretty easy to understand, but knowing the differences between them will help you make the right choice.

So, forget about the scary image of shipping options you have in your mind for just a minute and let’s take a look at what each of these shipping options has to offer and where they differ.

By the end of this article, you should have a firm idea of whether you need to pick LTL or FTL for your next shipment.

Okay, let’s dive in…


What is LTL Shipping?

Less Than Truckload shipping, or LTL as it is more commonly referred, is the shipping option that small-medium sized companies often utilize the most as it is more geared toward smaller volume shipments.

As a matter of fact, that is where it gets its name; it is less than a full truckload of goods. See, the beauty in LTL is that it's a bit like splitting a cab or an Uber with other people.

Yes, it is basically like a rideshare program for your goods.

Since your shipment isn’t going to take up the entire space of the truck, you share that space with other companies’ products. This way, you aren’t paying for a bunch of empty space you aren't occupying. You only pay for the exact amount of space that is being taken up by your goods only.

As with any mode of delivery, there are a couple of potential downsides of which you need to be aware.

For starters, since you are essentially sharing a delivery truck, there may be quite a few other deliveries or pick-ups along the way that the driver has to make before getting your products to their destination. This could massively impact your delivery speeds and thereby potentially losing customers.

Secondly, at those other stops, the driver will undoubtedly make, once packages are removed from the truck, things may need to be moved or rearranged. This means that anything fragile or sensitive are at a higher risk of becoming damaged from repeatedly moving around.

So long as you choose to work with a reputable LTL, you can greatly minimize the risk of delayed deliveries and damaged goods.


What is FTL Shipping?

In a nutshell, Full Truckload (FTL) shipping is the exact opposite of LTL shipping. Instead of sharing truck space with other companies, the entire truck is only carrying your goods and yours alone.

For this reason, FTL shipping is an excellent option when you ship enough goods to fill an entire truck. When you simply don’t want to risk delayed deliveries or damage due to the repeated stops and handling, FTL shipping is what you want. And that’s not even to mention that your delivery speeds will increase as your driver only has one origin and one destination.

The downside is that you are responsible for the full cost of the delivery, including any unused space inside the cargo area. And if you are operating a small to medium-sized business that ships out smaller pallet loads on a regular basis, FTL is going to hit you where it hurts; the bank account.

On the other hand, if you need to ship a lot of items all at once, shipping via FTL is a much better and more financially sound option.


Final Thoughts

Understanding your shipping options is the first step toward making the best decision possible. Understanding the differences between them can massively impact your bottom line, your customers, and your scalability.

Still not sure which shipping method to choose? Reach out to us here at Redwood Logistics and let us guide you through the process. We have helped thousands of clients put together the best shipping strategies to allow them to grow and prosper, and in that time, we have learned quite a few tips and tricks that we can put into play for you!