Choosing between parcel and LTL shipping methods

Chris Lund

By Chris Lund Business Development at King Solutions

king solutions trailers

There’s no shortage of shipping services, each with their own freight criteria, regulations and other factors. They also each come with their own pros and cons, and when shippers have freight that can be sent using two or more methods, the question becomes which method is the best the use.

This is frequently the case for businesses dealing with very small shipments, particularly those that hover around 150 lbs in total weight. These shipments place shippers at a bit of crossroads. Do they choose parcel shipping or less than truckload (LTL) shipping? Which is faster? Is one more cost efficient? What’s the best way to choose between the two? All we have to say is welcome to the world of logistics management, where these types of decisions are made every single day! Well, that’s not all we really have to say, which is why we pieced together a quick guide to help you choose which method is right for your shipping strategy.

Parcel shipping overview
The general criteria for parcel shipments are as follows. Packages should:

  • Weigh less than 150 lbs
  • Have a combined length and girth measurement of less than 165 inches
  • Not have a girth of more than 67 inches if they have a length of 108 inches or less

Since the main requirements deal with sizing, density also comes into play. Packages with a large size-to-weight ratio require special pricing that is contingent upon dimensional weight calculations. To calculate this, shippers must divide the volume (length x width x height) of a their package by 166 to get the dimensional weight in pounds.

Even though a package may weight more, it may be cheaper to ship if it takes up significantly less space than other, lighter packages.

LTL shipping overview
LTL shipping simply refers to sending out shipments that do not fill an entire trailer. Shippers generally contract out these services to third-party providers because of the large amount of planning and coordination that goes into successfully managing LTL freight. Rates depend on the classification, weight and size of freight as well as the pickup and end locations and the distance between them.

Which is better for you?
There is no general rule for separating freight into LTL and parcel shipping. While there are some hard lines that can be crossed — where freight should most definitely be shipped by one method or the other — the decision mostly relies upon the specific details of delivery, which can include:

  • The size, shape, weight and classification of freight
  • The amount of items to be shipped
  • Whether or not the items will be stacked on pallets
  • The location and ease of the delivery
  • Whether or not the delivery location has a loading dock
  • If the item is going to a commercial or residential property
  • How quickly the item/s need to get to their destination

It’s best not to stick with one method of shipping. If you want to get the best rates and to optimize your shipping strategy, you must use a balanced approach that incorporates both methods. But to do this takes planning and the ability to execute a shipping strategy that makes use of the benefits and weighs the costs and risks of each individual shipping method. These are the types of custom solutions that we here at King create for our customers. Don’t settle for a single, inflexible shipping solution, contact King to discuss your individual shipping needs.