LTL Shipping (meaning Less Than Truckload shipping), is your main alternative to FTL (Full Truckload Shipping).
The difference is fairly straightforward (at first glance) — if you have a very large shipment to make, you’re probably going to use FTL shipping. If you have a smaller shipment to make (anything less than an entire truckload), you’re probably looking at LTL shipping
Now, while the difference may appear simple, the reality may be much different.
Let me explain. Common sense would tell us that LTL shipping is going to be more expensive — after all, you’re not using the entire truck, so the cost will go up, right?
By the same line of reasoning, FTL shipping should be the most cost-effective way to go. If I apply economies of scale to FTL shipping, then reasonably, I’m going to pay less because I’m always filling up the entire truck. And the more trucks I fill up, the lower my ultimate cost.
Not So Fast
Reality in the shipping industry, as is often the case elsewhere, is a little more complicated than common sense might dictate.
The truth of the matter is that rates for both types of shipping have their own factors influencing cost. LTL shipping (meaning Less Than Truckload shipping) prices are the result of an enormous number of variables, variables that can (and do) change month to month, week to week, and day to day – sometimes even hour to hour! FTL (again, meaning Full Truckload Shipping) is a bit more stable, but finding the sweet spot in pricing can be just as difficult as LTL.
I won’t dive too deeply into the variables (you know the intricacies of your industry better than I do!), so instead I’ll put it like this: Our industry often runs on razor thin margins, margins that the average shipper isn’t concerned with. Because of this, carriers, brokers, and other players in the industry are looking for every possible opportunity to cut costs as deeply as possible.
The result? Extraordinarily complex calculations, based on a variety of ever-changing variables and factors, many of which are subject only to the control of daily changes in markets.
This may seem bad, but in reality, it creates opportunities to work the system (especially when it comes to LTL shipping) and to manipulate the calculations, saving some serious money.
LTL Shipping, Meaning Less Than Truckload Shipping, Can Sometimes Not Only Be Faster Than FTL — It Might Actually Save You Money.
Shipping has become a commodity in many people’s eyes, a thing that has no difference between one company and the next.
That couldn’t be further from the truth: Quality, speed, and low cost rarely align, but the savvy provider can help you navigate the convoluted maze that is the shipping industry and find the best fit for your shipping needs.
Just because you have a large load doesn’t mean an FTL shipment is the best fit for you (or the best opportunity to save).
That’s where we come in. We’ll do the navigating for you, finding the best possible answer to your shipping problem.
Whether you're a company looking to improve one facet of your supply chain, your entire supply chain, or simply looking for a transportation and logistics consultation, we can help.