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Parcel vs Freight LTL Shipping: What to Choose to Maximize Savings

May 23, 2018

Looking to save money when it comes to your shipping strategies? One way to do this is to identify when to use parcel shipping versus freight LTL shipping. All too often, retailers don’t realize the key differences between these two shipping options and spend unnecessary dollars.


Small parcel carriers like UPS, FedEx and DHL have set fees based on weight, delivery departure, location, characteristics of the shipment (such as if a signature is needed upon delivery) and more. Usually, parcel shipments weigh more than 71 pounds (per shipment, not per item) and can be shipped in carrier-supplied packaging or other standard packaging, such as a cardboard box. With carriers having both set rates and surcharges factored into their pricing strategies, it comes as no surprise that packages exceeding the small parcel weight and dimensional size limits incur excess fees. This excessive spike in shipping charges often goes unnoticed by retailers until they’re charged for it.


While packages less than 70 pounds represent a small percent of parcel shipping, individual packages over 150 pounds, or exceed 108 inches in length represent freight LTL (less-than-truckload). All shipments between small parcel standards and freight standards fall into a ‘gray’ zone, leaving retailers to decide how they want to ship. This said, this blurry area doesn’t have to be confusing if you understand the value that freight LTL delivers to shipments. Unlike small parcel, freight LTL has less risk when it comes to items being lost, damaged, or delayed due to a variety of factors. Most freight LTL shipments are shipped via secured pallets for easy loading, overall stability, and protection that retailers simply don’t have when shipping via small parcel and thus, freight LTL has a strong reputation for delivering on-time and intact.

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