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The Low-Down on LTL Shipping
Carrier Diversity Across Modes
The Low-Down on LTL Shipping
Carrier Diversity Across Modes
March 31, 2022

E-commerce, global pandemic, supply chain delays: three terms that populate nearly every piece of logistics writing in early 2022. This economic uncertainty causes businesses of all sizes to rethink their distribution strategy, often through carrier diversity. Carrier diversity is a term that ConnectShip holds in high regard. Not only because multi-carrier is in our DNA, but due to the benefits that diversification can bring in times of uncertainty. One such measure of diversification is across modes.

Less-than-Truckload (LTL) shipping is often perceived as the choice for high-volume, large-item shippers, those toting industrial HVAC systems or restocking stores. Diving deeper, LTL has so much more to offer. It is true that FTL, or Full Truckload shipments, do require the shipper to fill a long-haul, often 53’ trailer to get their money’s worth. These are your industrial and box store restocking shipments noted above. The beauty of LTL is its division of that single trailer’s space and cost across many shippers. If a shipment can be palletized, weighs over the 150-pound small parcel threshold, and all pieces of the shipment are headed in reasonably the same direction, LTL could be a great fit. Oh, and one more myth to debunk: LTL is not just for commercial deliveries. Most LTL carriers allow for residential drop-off, a huge plus for consumer-facing operations. All this to say, LTL provides a potential second option for long-time parcel shippers and fills a niche for the sizes and shapes that small parcel is less equipped to handle.

A singular tracking number for multiple orders, reduced handling, improved shipping rates, environmental friendliness from shared space, customer delivery preferences, reduced redundancy of travel to the same area, and shorter delivery times are all reasons to consider LTL as part of a greater distribution strategy.

Having explained the basic contrast between LTL, FTL, and parcel, let’s take a look at procedural differences. By most standards, parcel and LTL look similar. Destination, size, weight, and special requests all factor into the cost and timeline. However, LTL shipments will be picked up via liftgate or loading dock and routed directly from the sender through various terminals, whereas parcel shipments will first be sorted at a facility. LTL carriers also offer services such as placement, dunnage (packaging) removal, assembly, and freeze protection. If a business is looking for customer service that stands a notch above, LTL operates by appointment and typically assigns an account manager and local contacts to ensure quality service.

In some ways, LTL is more customizable and flexible than parcel or FTL due to the nature of the shipments. Some are headed to construction jobs with limited access. Others need indoor or outdoor drop-off. Others simply leverage the protection offered by palletizing smaller boxes. Businesses can also turn to consulting organizations that specialize in preparing shipments and securing the best rates.

Be sure to comply with packaging, measurement, documentation, and labeling requirements, an effort greatly reduced with the use of shipping technology. ConnectShip is committed to providing excellence in multi-carrier, and multi-modal, solutions. Stay tuned for new product updates and more from ConnectShip.

Ludwig Dischner III, MA, PMP
Marketing & Commercial Project Analyst ~ ConnectShip
Ludwig contributes to ConnectShip in brand development, project management, content production, video animation, UX/UI design and development, marketing research, analytics, business strategy, legal administration, and some musical talents, too. Ludwig is an integral piece of the team, communicating logistics solutions to a wide range of audiences and improving ConnectShip's project management. Ludwig holds a master’s degree in strategic communication and in project management from the University of Oklahoma, after graduating from the University of Tulsa with a bachelor's degree in business marketing. He also maintains his PMP certification.