LTL (less than truckload) shipments, is a shipment of cargo not big enough to warrant its own truck, and is generally a pretty reliable way for companies to transport small orders (less than ~10,000lbs or 12ft. of trailer space) and keep costs low. However, even with the advantages of using LTL freight shipping methods, it’s not a perfect system. As with any business method, LTL shipments have their pros and cons.

LTL shipping is a great solution for any business trying to transport only a small amount of freight. But make sure you know how to prepare for anything that might go wrong. Click To Tweet

Potential Drawbacks

On the whole, LTL shipping is a dependable, cost-effective way to transport a small amount of cargo, most carriers maintain 97% or better on-time delivery rate. But business owners should be aware of both good and bad potential outcomes. Be prepared to deal with one of these issues when using LTL:

  1. Losing the whole shipment
  2. Higher risk of damage
  3. Monetary drawbacks

1) Losing the Whole Shipment

One of the downfalls of shipping via an LTL carrier is that there is a possibility of the whole shipment not arriving at its destination on time or being lost in transit. As where, if shipped via a parcel CWT program you have a higher probability that most of your order will arrive in the published transit time.

However, an entire LTL shipment is contained in a single truck and rarely is a shipment broken down into a smaller quantity when capacity runs out for the entire order. Anything that delays or damages that single truck will also delay or damage your entire pallet of merchandise.

Pro Tip: Make sure to use a shipment manager or tracker to keep an eye on your LTL freight. This can reduce the risk of your goods being delayed in transit.

2) Higher Risk of Damage

In spite of the fact that there is less handling of the shipment, the risk of damage is actually higher with LTL providers. LTL carriers use forklifts to handle and load the freight, often double-stacking pallets in a trailer as well, making your shipment more susceptible to damage. Proper packaging and the appropriate use of dunnage, as well as blocking and bracing practices, are essential to guarantee a damage-free delivery.

3) Monetary Drawbacks

Lastly, LTL quantities don’t automatically contribute to parcel revenue-based incentives, only if you have negotiated this language into your parcel agreement. Unless your FedEx Freight or UPS Freight contract specifically states so, the revenue tendered to the LTL carrier will not contribute to the incentive received from the parcel carriers.

As well, there are so many more competitors in the industry that you may not even be transporting your LTL freight through the parcel carriers LTL business units. Though LTL shipping will generally save you money, don’t take it as a guarantee in every case. Use a rateshopper to double-check the price.

A Mostly Advantageous Strategy

Depending on your circumstances, the positives of LTL shipping may outweigh the negatives. But don’t make a decision either way without considering the advantages as well as the potential disadvantages. Make the best choice for your shipment and your needs.

Not sure if LTL is right for you? Connect with us for helpful ideas on when to use or pass on LTL shipping plans.