Parcel Shipping vs. Pallet Shipping: Which One is Best for You?
Parcel Shipping and Pallet Shipping
We often get questions from our clients regarding which shipping option should they choose for their business: parcel shipping or pallet shipping (LTL). These two options are quite similar, but which one you choose for your business is crucial.
We have compiled some information on the key differences between parcels and LTL to help you use the most efficient, cost-effective, and safe shipping method possible.
Parcels are lightweight, small shipments that typically weigh below 150 lbs and can be lifted without any help. They are labeled and shipped individually and utilize protective materials on this inside such as styrofoam or bubble wrap. Some carriers categorize boxes as parcels if their combined length and girth don’t exceed 165 inches.
The carrier will consolidate your parcel shipment on a pallet with other parcel shipments, send it to a facility, and then reconsolidate it again. This high level of manual handling means that your boxes are at a greater risk of damage or loss, especially if they are more fragile and lighter than other boxes on the pallets. However, the fact that there are many checkpoints and possible transfers of parcels means that they are generally easier to track than some types of pallet shipping. Also, parcel trucks have a daily-calculated route that rarely changes, which makes parcel shipping a better option if your shipment is time-sensitive.
Parcel shipping is the right choice if you’re shipping single, smaller items to individual customers if you’re shipping locally, or on-demand, and if timely delivery is important to your business.
Pallet Shipping (LTL)
LTL shipping is a better choice for freight that weighs more than 150 lbs or is bulky. Palletized shipments have a lower risk for damage because they are packaged more safely, and they go through fewer manual handling and checkpoints. They are also most commonly moved using a forklift, which is generally safer than a conveyor belt used for parcel shipments.
Pallet shipping allows for transporting multiple packages together to the same location, saving money on shipping costs per package. An LTL shipment travels to a distribution or fulfillment center, where it is unloaded, consolidated with other pallets moving to the same area, and then shipped to another terminal to be re-consolidated, or shipped directly to the delivery location.
LTL is the right choice for you if you have a business that ships large amounts of freight regularly, or if you need multiple shipments to arrive at the same time.
The Key Differences Between Parcel and Pallet Shipping
- Cost – pallets are larger and heavier than parcels, and therefore more expensive, but are nevertheless a more cost-effective option if you’re shipping large amounts of freight to the same place.
- Tracking – easier tracking is a key difference due to the many checkpoints of parcel shipping. On all of these checkpoints, parcel carriers get updates of the shipment location.
- Safety – typically, parcels are more fragile than pallets, are shipped in greater volumes, and manually handled at many checkpoints. This makes them more susceptible to loss or damage.
- Speed – LTL shipments are more likely to encounter unexpected delays while traveling from a terminal to a terminal, via truck or train. Also, a human error can play a larger role in LTL shipping. If a carrier comes to pick up two pallets and finds out there are twice as many, loading time is dramatically increased, and if the carrier ends up with no room in the truck, pickups scheduled for the same day may get pushed to the next.
This doesn’t typically happen with parcel shipments. Several unexpected parcels will not make that much of a difference when it comes to loading and pickups.
For more information, give us a call. We would be happy to assess your specific business needs for shipping. Our number is 877-242-0409.