LTL vs Parcel: Which is Best For Your Business?

Many businesses like yours have varying shipping needs. Different products or supplies need to travel various distances and may have to meet a particular deadline. Two of the most frequently used types of shipping for small amounts of goods are LTL (less-than-truckload) and parcel shipping. It’s important for business owners and decision-makers to know which method is best for your needs and the pros and cons of each type of shipping.

Sometimes Less is More

Parcel shipping is used for small amounts of goods or products, usually under 150 lbs. Parcels are easier for shipping companies to work with, as they usually can be lifted by one worker without assistance.

Parcel companies have sophisticated tracking with barcoding that allows shipments to be easily tracked within the carrier systems and are updated each time they are handled. Parcel companies specialize in complicated deliveries that include deliveries to residences, special locations within a building, and other special instructions given to the carrier on the shipping document. Additional shipping options are available other than standard services. These may include next-day, two day, and time specific designations such as before noon.

Rating of parcel shipments is another factor to consider when shipping via this method. It is important to understand the way rates are determined. Parcel shipping rates are dependent on numerous factors.

  • Weight – the heavier the package the higher the rate. Note that you cannot look at weight alone. Package dimensions may also cause your package to be rated at a higher rate, which is known as dimensional weight pricing. This ensures the customer is paying for the space the shipment requires in the delivery vehicle. It is important to use the smallest box needed for the articles and packaging material to ensure you do not incur higher dimensional weight charges due to the size of the box.
  • Distance – origin and destination zip codes also play a part in the price. The further the distance, the higher the rate. This is also relevant in the fuel surcharge being applied to the shipment.
  • Accessorial charges – fees include things like residential deliveries, additional handling, and oversized dimensions.
  • Discounts – Not all are created equal. Carriers give discounts based on volume. Nexterus has partnerships that allow us to negotiate on the volume we are handling over multiple clients to increase each clients’ discount.

Proper packaging decreases the chances of damage. Make sure your transportation carrier uses the correct shipping boxes to meet your business needs. Packages are handled multiple times on docks as well as on vehicles.

Sometimes shipments are damaged or lost, Nexterus’ claims department is available to assist with recovery of monies when this occurs.

Pack It Up, Pack It In

LTL is most often used for shipments over 150 lbs. but no more than 10,000. Multiple items, boxes or shipping units are secured to pallets for LTL transit. While loose freight may be accepted by the carrier, it is best to use a pallet, as it greatly reduces the chance of damage or loss in the LTL environment. When comparing LTL vs. parcel, larger bulkier materials may be a better fit to move via LTL vs. parcel. Nexterus will be able to help you determine the best way to ship.

LTL shipments are picked up by a pickup driver and returned to the local terminal to get in route to the final destination. Shipments are removed from the driver’s trailer via forklifts and moved to a linehaul trailer that will move to the next terminal to handle the freight. Depending on the distance, it may go to another break bulk facility or two before arrival to the destination terminal. Once the shipment is at the destination terminal it will be loaded on a delivery drivers trailer to deliver to the final destination.

In order for the shipment to arrive without damage, it is important that the shipment is shrink wrapped properly to the pallet and packaged per the NMFC guidelines for that product. If you are unsure of the current guidelines, Nexterus will be happy to assist you with information. It is important that each pallet is marked with the same pro number as on the bill of lading. This will ensure if a pallet is separated from the rest, the carrier can get it back on track to the delivery. It will help identify a pallet or more if somehow it gets put on the wrong trailer and will allow it to get to the proper location timely.

Nexterus has a partnership with Project 44 for tracking and tracing shipments. Once the pro number is in Nexterus’ system, it allows for the ability to track shipments and provide continuous visibility through the life of the shipment.

LTL rating is based on distance of shipment, freight class and discounts. Nexterus maintains both client-negotiated rates as well Nexterus-negotiated rates in the TMS to allow the client to pick their carrier of choice for the shipment. The system also will provide you with the bill of lading and labels for your pallets. Additional accessorial charges will also rate in the system. These include but are not limited to, residential deliveries, liftgate deliveries, and call ahead prior to delivery.

LTL vs. Parcel: Get the Best of Both With Nexterus

Whether your business needs to choose between LTL vs. parcel, or could use both for different types of deliveries, we at Nexterus have your shipping requirements covered. Whether you’re shipping a small parcel, LTL, or Truckload, Nexterus will be able to handle your transportation needs.

Through our long-term partnership with numerous transportation providers, we find the most efficient and cost-effective solution to your shipping needs. We handle both domestic transportation within the U.S. and international shipping.  If your business has its own distribution network, we help our clients organize and optimize your warehouses.

If you’re looking for a company for your transportation needs, submit a contact form to Nexterus and get started on optimizing your supply chain.

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