LTL vs FTL: How to Decide Between Less than Truckload and Full Truckload

As a business owner or decision-maker, you may be trying to decide between LTL vs. FTL shipping and wondering which option best suits your business objectives in today’s competitive shipping market. There are several factors to consider when choosing LTL shipping or FTL shipping, including cost, carrier transit times, delivery schedules, how many pallets you are shipping, and the nature of the product you are shipping. Let’s break it down.

What is LTL Freight?

LTL freight or less-than-load freight is when more than one business’s freight is loaded onto a single truck. LTL shipping fills a single truck with as much product as possible from multiple businesses, maximizing efficiency for the carrier and therefore costs to you, the business owner.

Shipments of between one and six pallets are ideal for LTL shipping, best for business owners moving small amounts of product. One factor to consider when deciding between LTL vs. FTL is the current shortage of truck drivers, resulting in an increase in driver compensation, a cost often passed on to the shipping consumer.

Another factor to consider is the number of times a truck carrying an LTL load must stop to deliver other businesses’ goods, resulting in longer transit times. However, if you are comfortable with a pickup and delivery date range and your product load is small, LTL remains a cost-effective choice.

What is FTL Freight?

FTL freight or full-truckload freight is when one business’s product takes up an entire truck’s shipping space. Since your product is the only product being shipped, you have exclusive control of the truck.

Your shipment won’t come into contact with another business’s product or be loaded and unloaded at multiple stops. You won’t be subject to another business’s delivery schedule.

Your business’s delivery will take priority with firm pickup and drop-off dates. Transit time is reduced since your product is the only one on board, avoiding the numerous stops associated with LTL shipping. So, any logistics challenges, especially those caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, can be addressed with the focus remaining on your company’s needs.

How Do I Get the Best LTL vs. FTL Rates?

In your choice between LTL vs. FTL shipping, cost will be a major consideration. If you are shipping six or fewer pallets of product, LTL shipping may be a cost-saver for you. However, if your product is fragile or you require a hard delivery date, FTL shipping will better suit your needs.

For both LTL and FTL shipping, scheduling pickups and deliveries on off-peak days will save on costs. It can also help your company develop a good working relationship with a specific shipping company, enabling you to negotiate the best rates in the future.

LTL vs. FTL: Which is Best for My Business?

The decision between LTL vs. FTL is just one of the many business questions that may be keeping you up at night. In regards to shipping, the answer comes down to your business objectives. LTL shipping is best for business owners with small shipments and flexible delivery schedules. FTL shipping is suitable for business owners needing exclusive control over a truck or shipping fragile product with firm delivery dates. As your business needs and the shipping landscape change, these considerations will dictate whether LTL or FTL shipping is best for you. Don’t let shipping become a bottleneck in your supply chain.

The Nexterus suite of services offers both LTL and FTL shipping solutions to meet the demands of your business. Our experienced supply chain team will engage a reliable and cost-effective provider for your shipping needs.

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