Your business may not always need to fill up a whole delivery truck with shipping. LTL is a good option if the load weighs in on the lighter side.
The abbreviation “LTL” is shorthand for less-than-truckload shipping. Despite what the name suggests, it’s still a method that can handle heavy loads – LTL carriers can deliver packages ranging from 150 to 15,000 pounds. There are many more benefits beyond this that could make LTL the right candidate for small freight shippers.
The basics of LTL
Shipping LTL saves money right away because businesses don’t pay to use the delivery vehicle’s total storage space. Instead, they’re only charged for the portion of the truck their shipment occupies. The rest is filled with packages from other shippers, who in turn pay for their own allotment of cargo space.
Benefits of LTL shipping
LTL shipping is designed to maximize freight space, so packages are usually protected by crates or pallets, which adds an extra layer of toughness and security in transit. LTL can also keep packages safer since this method of freight packing minimizes the risk of loss.
Safety and peace of mind are further made possible by the end-to-end tracking offered by some LTL providers. This kind of service lets businesses keep a closer eye on whether their carrier is keeping their end of the deal. Multiple shipping options are available, ranging from standard hours to urgent deliveries and freight that requires special handling – a variety of choices you can pass on to customers.
In a world where consumers now expect the fastest delivery possible, LTL brings businesses closer to meeting that demand. LTL lets shippers send out packages a lot more regularly. Smaller batches move quicker than waiting until enough orders have been made to fill up an entire truck.
A further benefit also connects to another public demand, namely that companies be as eco-friendly as possible. LTL shipping lowers toxic emissions since it maximizes the number of trucks that are making runs at full capacity, lessening the amount of traffic on the road. Half-full (or less) trucks driving around are an unnecessary strain on the environment and stamp your business with a poor carbon footprint.
How do FedEx and UPS shape up on LTL shipping?
Both of these big parcel carriers offer LTL to businesses, with FedEx Freight being the more dominant of the two (FedEx does in fact have the fastest published transit times of any LTL carrier in America). FedEx offers two options to customers: Priority and Economy LTL.
Priority offers all-points coverage and delivery across the mainland United States, as well as services to all major cities in Hawaii and Alaska. Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico are also on their LTL delivery route. Businesses can upgrade to Priority Plus for more time-sensitive packages, taking advantage of a service that provides end-to-end tracking and delivers outside of standard business hours and on Saturdays.
FedEx Freight Box is their solution for LTL packages weighing under 1,200 pounds and provides businesses with two box sizes to choose from. The whole thing is backed by FedEx’s money-back shipping guarantee – if a delivery is late by as little as 60 seconds, the sender gets a full refund on shipping.
FedEx Economy LTL offers the more standard morning and close-of-business delivery windows (by 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., respectively). Economy also provides the Freight Box option along with end-to-end shipment control and a custom delivery window.
UPS offer similar options for shippers. Their LTL freight can ship to and from all 50 states as well as to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada, and Guam. The service breaks down into four options:
- UPS Freight LTL – For direct shipments in the 48 contiguous states and to and from Canada. It is backed by their no-fee guarantee, which sees freight charges canceled if they deliver later than the agreed time. This guarantee also applies to their other options.
- LTL Guaranteed – Offers on-time delivery by a certain day across the continental United States and Canada.
- LTL Guaranteed A.M. - Only applies to certain ZIP codes and direct points in the contiguous states and Washington, D.C. Guaranteed to get there by noon.
- LTL Urgent – Provides access to the UPS Freight Fleet as well as their air network. Offers after-hours, holiday and weekend service and customizable LTL solutions such as temperature-sensitive shipping.
It’s great that both FedEx and UPS claim to either refund or cancel LTL delivery charges if they don’t get packages there on time. It’s not quite so wonderful when they try to wriggle out of their guarantees with various unacceptable excuses.
How 71lbs can lighten your stress load
The big LTL shippers may advertise wanting to lighten your next shipping load, but what use is that if they start causing your business time and trouble chasing a refund? That’s putting more weight on your shoulders, which 71lbs specializes in relieving.
We can add our own layer of observation and analysis to your LTL shipping that complements what is offered by UPS or FedEx. It’s our experience that too many customers get detailed information that proves invalid – if they get any reason for a denied refund at all.
LTL is there as an option to save money and maintain your reputation with your customers. Partner with us to make sure it doesn’t become just another way to take a heavy loss.
At 71lbs, we uncomplicate the shipping process for our customers, making it easier and faster for them to access refunds and reduce their expenses. Our automated platform gathers all your shipping information into one easy-to-use custom analytics dashboard. Drop by the contact page to get in touch.