Differences Between LTL and Parcel Shipping
Parcel shipping and LTL are two of the most cost-effective ways to ship in the industry today. Because of their similarities and the overlap between the two, it is important to know the differences between parcel shipping and LTL to determine which mode of transport is best for your shipment. While size is typically the biggest difference in deciding whether to select a parcel or LTL service to move your freight, other factors such as how a shipment is loaded, unloaded, handled, charged, and delivered can determine which form of transport most accurately fits your needs.
Parcel shipping is primarily for smaller packages weighing less than 150 lbs that can be lifted without the assistance of a forklift or pallet jack. However, some shipping companies like FedEx and UPS have changed their policies regarding oversized packages, incorporating additional charges in a way that may make LTL a better option for shipments that fall within the edge of the parcel range. Because of their small size, parcels have a higher risk of being lost or damaged, and they often involve more transfers to and from different shipping hubs before they reach their final destination. On the other hand, the higher number of transfers allows the shipper to track their package with greater accuracy as it arrives and leaves transit hubs. When it comes to pickup and delivery, parcel shipping has a few distinct advantages. Parcels can be taken to drop-off locations to avoid trucks coming to your business or residence. Parcels are also typically delivered door-to-door with no additional charges for inside delivery.
LTL shipping is predominantly for larger shipments over 150 lbs. Shipments are usually palletized and wrapped for security in-transit, and are almost always moved using a forklift or pallet jack. There are usually fewer transfers for an LTL shipment en route to its destination, providing more security and less opportunity for damage to occur. However, fewer stops mean that tracking can be less frequent than parcel shipping, reducing visibility. LTL can also be an advantage if all of your parcel-sized packages are going to the same location, as they can be grouped together, stacked, and wrapped on a pallet for protection. Grouping packages destined for the same location together in an LTL shipment can also save money on the cost per package of a shipment.
Overall, if a shipment is much too large for parcel service but too small for a full truckload, LTL will be the best choice. If a shipment falls somewhere in between the two modes of shipping, weight-wise, then a shipper must consider the factors listed above to decide the most effective method of shipping to fit the needs of the shipment. Destination, fuel surcharges, price per package, delivery times, whether packages can be grouped together or must be shipped separately, and accessorial charges will all affect the final price of shipping, whether it be parcel or LTL. Carefully review these factors before determining the most efficient and cost-effective mode of transport for your shipment.