LTL Freight vs Small Parcel

Freight vs ParcelUnderstanding the basic packaging guidelines in order to converse in the world of small package and freight shipping will provide key intelligence needed to effectively ship an individual’s product. For those individuals who are experienced with running an e-commerce company, it is common knowledge that using small parcel carriers like DHL, FedEx, and UPS will automatically charge extra for an oversized product or item. Luckily, there have been recent advancements that help reduce the chance of enforcing these fees. To determine small parcel shipping or Less-than-truckload (LTL) freight, shippers need to consider weight, delivery urgency, and location. The questions you need to ask yourself when making the decision are:

• What is the product?
• What is the size and weight?
• How many pieces are there?
• What is my customer’s need and demand?

For LTL carriers to be able to offer competitive and fair shipping rates, they must utilize lanes or networks of terminals and asset equipment to consolidate freight moving in the same general direction. LTL shipments are less risky than small parcel shipments because they are lost, delayed, or damaged less frequently. Small parcels have a much longer complicated journey where packages are loaded up then sent over to localized facilities where they are dispersed into smaller vehicles, eventually reaching a single driver delivery van that commutes to the customer. Per shipment, small parcels weigh under 70 pounds through carrier supplied packaging that is not sent on pallets, but rather a small package shipping system used by DHL, FedEx, and UPS.

In order to implement and utilize freight shipping, packages must be over 150 pounds and a length of over 108 inches. The different modes of transportation for freight shipping involve LTL, FTL, Ocean, and Intermodal (Rail). LTL and freight shipping advantages are actually rather clear; combine all large bulky and heavy packages to perfectly fit truck space and get palletized to a common delivery location. LTL is able to save money when similar cargo is combined in a trailer that is usually 8 feet wide by 8 feet tall and 40 feet long. If your shipment is greater than 525 cubic feet, full truckload (FTL) pricing will be your best option. FTL & LTL are preferred over small parcel shipping because they provide easy loading on secure pallets, overall stability, and greater protection. In regards to LTL vs FTL, the main advantage of LTL is how shipment may be transported for a fraction of the cost of hiring an entire truck or trailer for an exclusive shipment. LTL also offers helpful accessory services that FTL does not have available. LTL transit times allow for cross-country moves within a week and most nationally-based carriers have the ability to cover the United States in 3 days or less. The technology behind LTL drastically improves workflow efficiency through automated tracking updates, batch freight invoicing, document retrieval, and streamlined pick-up requests.

When using small parcel shipping, be careful about accessorial fees. For example, UPS will add a large package surcharge when length plus girth combined exceeds 130 inches. Also, any package with weight over 150 lbs, combined length, and girth over 165 inches, or length over 108 inches; there will be an automatic charge of $150 per package. In order to determine the preferred shipping method, individuals should review different freight rating shopping systems to prove if costs will be much lower. Freight rating shopping systems eliminate uncertainty, waste, human error and the manual process.  Companies such as SAIA & Roadrunner Transportation Services are cost-effective examples of freight providers. Freight forwarders, 3PL’s, and Truck Brokerages also offer consultant advice for shipping freight. Rates are provided based on your requirements and then they coordinate all efforts from start to finish, which ensures safety.

The 100-pound threshold used to be the deciding factor but times have changed.  Carriers continue to broaden their services and now shippers prefer whichever method makes the most financial sense while keeping the customer as happy as possible, regardless of the product’s size and weight. Generally, once a parcel shipment exceeds a certain number of packages and weight, LTL is the most cost-efficient way to ship. For example, if you need to get 4 small packages from San Diego to Washington DC by next day, shipping parcel may make the most sense. If you need to ship 13 large boxes that total 270 pounds from San Francisco to Dallas within five days, LTL is the better option. For someone who has never shipped using LTL or freight before, it may seem like an unfamiliar world. However, parcel shippers who are dealing with LTL shipping for the first time usually find that it’s easier and more cost-effective than parcel shipping. If additional questions are required, it is best to reach out to a freight broker for guidance. Just remember no two customers are alike and freight providers must create case-specific solutions to ensure smart choices that save time and money.