LTL, FTL… uhh, wait… we are still talking about shipping services, right? Yes, and it is entirely reasonable that shipping lingo can sometimes be frustrating and overwhelming, whether you are a new or seasoned online seller. But as the saying goes, "knowledge is power." If you have an in-depth understanding of different shipping services, you can use that knowledge to develop an effective shipping strategy to win more customers and increase sales.
This article will discuss the different types of shipping services in Canada and their pros and cons.
FTL (Full Truckload)
The entire truckload is reserved or dedicated for one shipment only. It is normal to have shipments that can fill a full shipping container or truck, which is approximately more than ten pallets, or the consignment exceeds 15,000 lbs. On the other hand, you can still opt for FTL if you want the whole truck to yourself, even though it will not be completely full.
Choose FTL if the items to be shipped are fragile, like expensive paintings, antique furniture, luxury items, or perishable goods.
Pros and Cons of FTL:
FTL is best for time-sensitive shipments, especially during holidays, such as Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and Prime Day (for Amazon shipments). You can be assured that your shipment will only travel from point A to point B without the need for pickups, stopovers, or multiple transfers. It means your cargo is more secure since it will only travel to a single direct route, and fewer hands will touch your shipment.
On the other hand, you may spend a higher shipment fee with FTL since you need to rent the entire truck. There is also a minuscule possibility that you have to pay for extra services such as handling.
LTL (Less Than Truckload)
According to Investopedia, LTL, which is also known as Less-Than-Load, is a “shipping service for relatively small loads or quantities of freight." It is one of the popular shipping services in Canada, especially for new online merchants who are just starting to deliver smaller batches of goods.
The cargo is either palletized or created to reduce the cost, as well as secure the shipment. Despite transporting only small loads, you can use LTL frequently in batches to replenish your inventory, so you don't have to wait until it is running low. This is a good strategy for distant customers to avoid the risk of losing sales due to lack of inventory.
Pros and Cons of LTL:
If you are asking which shipping service is cheapest, LTL can save you money on shipping your products because it only consumes a portion of a truck's weight or space. LTL also has add-on services such as liftgate, freeze protection, and special handling.
As we all know, sharing is caring, and when you share space with other shipments (instead of renting a single truck for yourself), it could help lower its carbon footprint, thus reducing environmental impact.
However, the downside of the LTL shipping service is that it takes longer to prepare, organize, and arrange the truck's shipments since they are coming from different clients. The waiting time until your shipment arrives is longer since the truck has to be filled before it can leave, and it needs to make many stops to unload other shipments.
It is one of the shipping services in Canada that transports cargos by air, and is the quickest method to ship goods abroad. There are three types: air parcel, dedicated air cargo planes, and air charter for urgent shipments. In air parcel, the shipment is loaded on passenger planes with a weight of 2 semi-trailer trucks. Dedicated air cargo planes are aircraft designed for transporting consignments, while the air charter is dedicated to shipping cargo on time with no transit stops.
Pros and Cons of Air Freight:
As mentioned above, air freight is suitable for urgent shipments with realistic arrival and departure times. It also helps you to expand your business overseas because you can send orders anywhere. Moreover, thanks to faster transit times, there is no need to have a local warehouse keep your stock because your shipment can be cleared within a couple of hours.
However, if you want quick deliveries, you need to pay more. Air freight also has limited shipping capacity due to the size of the aircraft. You can't even ship products like firearms, lithium batteries, flammable substances, and power supplies or power banks. Air freight shipping also depends on the weather condition, as this may cause delays.
Sea or Ocean Freight
It is another way of shipping packages overseas that can handle any shape, weight, and size of freight. Containers filled with cargoes are loaded onto vessels and shipped to the destination country by the sea. This is where LTL and FTL shipping services can come in handy. You need to choose depending on the weight and type of your products.
Pros and Cons of Sea Freight
Ocean freight shipping service is perfect for oversized bulky shipments and is an economical way of transporting goods internationally. Like LTL, sea freight is also environmentally friendly because some ships are powered by liquefied natural gas. Besides, ocean freight shipping can transport dangerous and hazardous materials, unlike air freight.
As for the disadvantages, sea freight is slower than air freight and might even take a month to arrive at the destination. It may also suffer from delays due to bad weather, pirate attacks, and customs processes.
What is ground service shipping? USA Today defines ground shipping as a "freight transport of tangible goods by land ("ground"), whether by train or truck." It is a way of transporting shipments domestically or within a country.
Pros and Cons of Ground Shipping
You can save money with ground shipping, and it can transport large, hazardous, or heavy items. It is also possible to offer your customers a free shipping option because of its cost-effectiveness. And sometimes, it has add-on services such as a shipment tracking system that can help you check your packages' status.
Ground shipping is not good for urgent deliveries, though, as it could take several days or weeks to arrive at the destination. Delays may also happen due to unpredictable weather, traffic, and road closures.
Demystifying shipping and mailing services
Shipping and mailing services are sometimes used interchangeably in the realm of eCommerce . In some cases, both are viewed as the same thing. Let us help you draw a line between the two.
Shipping, also known as courier service, is managed by a private company that delivers important documents and parcels. It has various types, such as local, international, and time-sensitive shipping. Shipping services are fast and reliable, but pricey.
On the contrary, mailing or postal service is run by national governments. Businesses use this service for non-urgent deliveries and mostly are just routine correspondence. It is more affordable than courier service but has longer delivery times.
Based on what we've learned, shipping services have their pros and cons that affect how you deliver orders to your customers. There is no such thing as a perfect shipping service, so you have to be smart enough to combine two or three shipping services above to develop the best shipping strategy. You must also consider the distance, size & weight of the package, and the type of your product. Once you figure this all out, it will be easier for you to provide the best customer experience and smoother delivery services.
Pramod is the CEO of Stallion Express - the leading eCommerce shipping provider in Canada. His vision, leadership, and innovative strategies have catapulted Stallion into one of the industry's most trusted brands. He is on a mission to help online sellers in Canada scale and succeed. He is also the reigning office ping pong champion.
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