If you’ve been using small parcel shipping, but are considering LTL shipping, it can be overwhelming to decide when it makes sense to change the mode of transportation. Thankfully, technology has improved and with that, shipment processes have improved.

It used to be pretty easy to choose between a small parcel and LTL. The old rule was anything over 150 pounds should be transported with an LTL carrier. However, many parcel shipping companies (like FedEx and UPS) have changed their dimensional and oversized package policies, that may warrant LTL as a cheaper alternative.

So, how then do you know when to use small parcel shipping or LTL? Consider the following. Click To Tweet

Weight & Shape

Obviously, the size and weight need to be a major consideration when selecting a small parcel or LTL carrier. You also want to think about the shape and size of your packages. Small parcel shipments are typically more automated than LTL. LTL carriers use forklifts to move packages while small parcel uses conveyor belts. Often times people prefer LTL when the packages are oddly shaped or over 150 lbs, because of the careful handling of your shipments.

The Final Destination & Transit Times

Something else that you should consider when choosing your parcel carrier is the final destination of your shipments. Is the shipment going to the 15th floor of a building? If so, small parcel will be the best avenue to take, as there will not be any inside delivery charges accessed. Is the address a residence? In this case both LTL and parcel carrier do charge for this service, however, the charges are much higher via LTL.

If shipping via a ground service on a parcel carrier, in some cases an LTL carrier will actually get it there quicker. A quick example would be from Houston, TX to Little Rock, AR: FedEx ground has a published transit of 2 days, while LTL carrier Averitt Express has a published transit of 1 day.  

Pro Tip: If your company is making top quality products, but the customer doesn’t receive the delivery in a timely manner or their shipment is damaged, it can negatively affect your business.


The final consideration is the price. In most cases, your company will need to invest in software to simultaneously rate both modes of transportation and determine which route is the cheaper or effective option. Fuel surcharges alone could warrant the use of the parcel carrier, as their surcharges are dramatically cheaper than the fuel surcharges of LTL carriers. In an upcoming article, we will discuss the highly underutilized parcel Hundredweight and Multiweight programs of FedEx and UPS, as they can be an effective replacement for some of your LTL shipping needs.

So, Small Parcel or LTL Shipping?

After carefully considering the above, you should know which shipping service will be best for your deliveries. Are you interested in learning more about the benefits of LTL or parcel shipping? Join us on Facebook to speak with our shipping management team today.