LTL Shipping vs. Full Truckload Freight: Which to Choose?

LTL vs. Full Truckload: Which Freight Shipping Option is Right for You?

Posted on:
Sep 07, 2023

Making the right freight shipping choice can significantly impact your business operations, costs, and customer satisfaction. Two popular shipping options businesses often grapple with are LTL (Less Than Truckload) shipping and full truckload freight. Each has its advantages, tailored to meet specific shipping needs. If you’re a seasoned shipper or just starting, understanding the nuances of these two options when seeking is crucial.

What are LTL and Full Truckload Freight Shipping?

If you’ve dealt with trying to move a large shipment, you’ve probably heard these terms: LTL (Less Than Truckload) and full truckload freight shipping. But what are they? And how do they differ?

LTL shipping refers to shipments that don’t require a full truck’s space. Instead of booking an entire truck, businesses using LTL freight shipping share the truck space with other shippers. This method is ideal for small to medium-sized shipments that don’t need the capacity of a full truck. LTL freight shines in scenarios where a shipment is too large for traditional parcel services but too small to justify the cost of an entire truck.

On the other hand, full truckload freight, often referred to as “full truckload” or “FTL,” is when a shipment occupies an entire truck by itself. Unlike LTL freight shipping, where multiple shippers’ goods share space in one truck, FTL dedicates the whole truck to a single shipper’s cargo. This method is best suited for large shipments that can fill or nearly fill the entire capacity of a truck.

Both LTL and full truckload freight shipping offer unique solutions tailored to different needs. When dealing with smaller, more frequent shipments or large, one-time deliveries, understanding these two options is the first step in optimizing your shipping strategy.

What is the Difference Between LTL and Full Truckload Freight Shipping? 

Navigating the world of freight shipping can be intricate, especially when deciding between LTL and full truckload freight shipping. Here are some of the primary distinctions between the two:

  • Cost Structure: LTL freight shipping costs are determined by the amount of space your shipment occupies and its weight and distance traveled. In contrast, full truckload pricing is often based on the distance, with a flat rate for the entire truck, regardless of whether it’s fully loaded.
  • Transit Time: full truckload shipments usually have faster transit times since they travel directly from the pickup to the delivery point without additional stops. On the other hand, LTL shipments might make several stops at different terminals, which can add to the delivery time.
  • Handling: LTL shipments are typically handled multiple times as they move between trucks or terminals. This increases the risk of potential damage. full truckload shipments are less frequently handled, as they remain on the same truck from start to finish.
  • Flexibility: LTL freight shipping offers more flexibility for businesses with smaller shipments, allowing them to ship goods without waiting to accumulate enough for a full truckload. Full truckload is less flexible but offers the advantage of dedicated space.
  • Shipment Size: LTL freight is designed for smaller shipments that don’t require the space of an entire truck, while a full truckload is ideal for larger shipments that can fill a truck by volume or weight.

Understanding the differences between LTL and full truckload freight shipping is essential when making an informed decision that suits your shipping needs and budget.

What Should You Consider When Choosing Between LTL and Full Truckload?

Hypothetical time: let’s say you’re a business that manufactures printers. You have a large order that needs to go out to stores this week consisting of several pallets. You contact a freight carrier, and they give you the options of LTL freight shipping and full truckload freight shipping. Which do you choose? Well, there are several factors that you must weigh when deciding between LTL and full truckload. 

The size and weight of your shipment play a pivotal role. Smaller shipments often lean towards LTL for cost-effectiveness, while larger ones that fill an entire truck benefit from full truckload. The distance to your destination matters too; longer hauls with direct routes favor full truckload for its speed. Budget constraints, urgency of delivery, and the nature of your goods (fragile or high-value) also influence the decision. If sustainability is a priority, LTL’s consolidation of multiple shipments can be a greener choice. Evaluating these aspects makes sure your shipping aligns with your business objectives.

How Can You Optimize Your Freight Shipping Choice?

Selecting between LTL and full truckload freight shipping is just the beginning of the shipping process. Once you’ve made your choice, optimizing your shipping practices can save time and money. When shipping an LTL load, careful packaging to maximize space and protect goods during multiple handlings is key. With full truckload freight shipping, ensuring that the truck space is efficiently utilized can lead to cost savings. 

Working with reliable freight brokers or carriers who understand your specific needs can make the process smoother. Regularly monitoring and tracking shipments provides peace of mind and allows for timely adjustments if needed. By paying attention to these details, you can enhance your shipping experience and meet your business goals.

Navigating the Freight Highway

Navigating the ins and outs of freight shipping can be daunting, but understanding the distinctions between LTL and full truckload can simplify the decision-making process. Both LTL freight shipping and full truckload freight shipping offer unique advantages tailored to different shipping needs. Businesses can make informed choices that align with their objectives by considering factors like shipment size, distance, budget, and urgency. Ultimately, the key lies in evaluating individual shipping requirements and leveraging the benefits of each method to achieve optimal results.

GoShips’s digital platform, rooted in years of industry expertise, streamlines both full-truckload and less-than-truckload freight shipping. GoShip is your trusted freight shipping partner, offering a seamless, user-friendly shipping experience. Ready to take the hassle out of shipping? Get an instant, low-cost full truckload and LTL freight quote for your shipments today with GoShip, and let’s drive your freight goals forward together.