In the world of shipping, two of the most common types of shipments encountered are parcel and Less-than-Truckload (LTL). Parcel shipments are small, lightweight packages typically shipped via familiar carriers such as UPS, FedEx, or DHL. LTL shipments are larger and heavier than parcels and are usually transported on pallets via commercial trucking companies.
Both methods have their own unique advantages and disadvantages, which we’ll explore in this blog post. If efficient shipping processes are essential to the operation of your business — the Service Express team has the knowledge and experience to help you select the option that will get your products where they need to go on time and on budget.
Parcel vs LTL: What’s the Difference?
When deciding between parcel and Less-than-Truckload (LTL), you’ve got to know the characteristics of each method. Let’s start with parcel shipments. Shipments of this type are relatively small packages, usually under 100 pounds, and can be moved by an unassisted individual. They are most often sent using courier services or parcel carriers. This is an important distinction because packages of this type are not palletized and must have adequate packaging to ensure that the goods within are protected against the rigors of being individually loaded in delivery vehicles.
LTL shipments are larger shipments, usually over 100 pounds, that are sent using freight services. LTL shipments can be bulky and too cumbersome for an individual to move unassisted. To be securely and efficiently loaded and transported via semi-tractor trailers, LTL shipments must be palletized. Because LTL shipments are palletized, they are typically loaded and unloaded using forklifts or other specialized equipment.
So, which type of shipment is right for your particular need? The answer depends on a few factors. First, you need to consider the size and weight of your shipment. If you’re shipping something large or heavy, LTL is usually the way to go. On the other hand, smaller and lighter packages will most likely be best served by parcel shipping.
Should You Choose LTL or Parcel Shipping? It Depends.
Of all the differences between parcel and LTL shipping, the one that is usually most important to shippers is that parcel shipping is generally much faster. LTL shipping takes longer because the carrier has to consolidate multiple packages into a single large shipment, which can take days or even weeks. This is because LTL shipments are consolidated. Consolidated, in this case, means that the carrier will combine your goods with other shippers’ goods going to the same general destination. You only pay for the space your cargo occupies on the truck, which is one reason why LTL shipping tends to be more cost-effective.
If you need your products delivered quickly, parcel shipping is probably the best option. However, if your weightiest constraint is budget rather than time, then the potential cost savings of LTL shipping might make it the more suitable approach.
Less-than-Truckload and Parcel Shipping: Two Powerful Tools in Your Shipping Toolbox
When it’s time to select the method you’ll use to ship your products, remember this: parcel shipping is most often used for smaller, lighter shipments that are more time-sensitive. Conversely, LTL shipping comes into its own when larger or bulkier items need to be delivered on a budget.
When deciding between parcel and LTL shipping, you now know you’ll need to consider the all-important factors of size, weight, how quickly your shipment needs to be delivered, and your budget. If, after careful consideration, you’re still unsure which option is best for you, reach out to a trusted shipping partner like Service Express for help.
Our leadership team has over a century of combined experience in every facet of shipping logistics. If you’re ready to see how simple, seamless, and streamlined your shipping can be, you’re ready for Service Express! Contact us today to request a personalized quote or more information on how we can deliver future shipping success to your business.